how to get rid of dark spots on face

How To Get Rid Of Dark Spots On Face: Treatments That Really Work

Dark spots, liver spots, hyperpigmentation, whatever term you prefer, are frustrating! Here's how to get rid of dark spots on your face.
Updated: January 30, 2023
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Over time, our skin can experience many factors that can alter its look and complexion. From different forms of irritation to breakouts, blemishes, and more. One of the most common and frustrating skin issues that millions of people deal with is dark spots. While they can appear on every part of the body, learning how to get rid of dark spots on the face seems to be an ever-growing priority.

In this article, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about dark spots, including what they are, how they form, and more importantly, how to remove them. Treatment options range from homemade remedies, all the way to professional dermatological procedures.

If you’re having trouble removing dark spots from your face, read on. We have the answers.

What are dark spots?

Dark spots, otherwise known as liver spots or hyperpigmentation, are a completely normal occurrence within the skin. When the skin experiences a form of trauma or stress, usually triggered by environmental elements, patches of the skin become darker in color than everywhere else. Even though statistically, dark spots are more common in middle-aged people, they can emerge at any time, in anyone, on any part of the body for a number of reasons.

The symptoms of dark spots

The vast majority of dark spots/liver spots are nothing to worry about. It is very rare that an area of hyperpigmentation signifies a deeper medical problem. However, it is true that in a minority of instances, dark spots or other melanoma symptoms can be cancerous.[1] If you become worried about a mole or notice unusual symptoms, speak to your doctor for an expert opinion.

Generally, dark spots are categorized by identifying the following symptoms:

  • They have a tan to dark brown color
  • Form on skin that has the most sun exposure
  • Are usually flat
  • Can range from freckle size to about half an inch

What causes dark spots on the face?

Before we give you tips on how to get rid of dark spots on your face, it’s important to understand what caused them to appear in the first place.

Liver spots on the face can form for the same reasons that they appear on any part of the body. There are no unique circumstances that make dark spots on the face any different from patches of hyperpigmentation on the shoulders, arms, or back, for example.

Dark spots and hyperpigmentation are caused by the overproduction of melanin in the body. Melanin is what defines a person’s skin pigment. Darker people have more melanin in their skin, whereas paler people have less. However, melanin production can be stimulated by several external factors.

Here are the most common:

Sun exposure

The sun’s powerful UV rays can trigger the body into producing more melanin, which leads to dark spots. Whenever you get a sunburn, it irritates the skin. Over time, the skin begins to sting, turn red, and peel. We’ve all been there and it sucks. In this situation, your body begins to produce more melanin as a protective response against the trauma caused by the sun. This is why the majority of dark spots appear on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun more often, such as the face, neck, shoulders, and between the breasts.

Look, we know you want that gorgeous golden tan, we all do! However, you should adequately protect yourself whenever you go out on a hot sunny day, and limit your sun exposure to sensible amounts.

Ingrown hair

Have you ever finished shaving only to notice areas of your skin that are red and bumpy? The likelihood is that these little bumps could develop into ingrown hairs and cause a few issues.

Ingrown hair is when a hair follicle gets trapped under the surface of the skin. This can occur due to excess oil, dirt, or a poor shaving technique that has sharpened the end of the hair to such an extent, that it has buried itself under the skin. These little ingrown hairs can then cause inflammation and irritation in the skin, once again triggering your body to produce more melanin leading to dark spots. Ingrown hair can affect anywhere on the body, from your arms and legs, all the way to your butt.

To minimize the chances of hyperpigmentation emerging in these situations, you should learn how to correctly deal with ingrown hair. Trust us, you’ll be thankful.

Skin inflammation

Following on from ingrown hair, general skin inflammation can create the same bodily response of more melanin production.

Our skin can become inflamed for many reasons. Some of the most common causes are scratches, rashes, eczema, and acne. Additionally, some people can experience inflammation after certain skincare procedures like microneedling. Each skin issue has different treatments, so figure out the best ways to soothe any specific type of inflammation with the correct methods and products.

Hormonal changes

Hormones can fluctuate all the time, and yes, they can lead to hyperpigmentation. Usually more prominent with teenagers and pregnant women, hormonal changes can create a host of skin responses that can be super annoying and tricky to deal with.

Medication side effects

If you are taking medication for a particular issue, one of the lesser-known side effects could be the triggering of melanin production and the formation of dark spots. This can affect everyone regardless of the medication, as our bodies react completely differently to each other. Speak to your doctor if you are noticing these side effects.

How to get rid of dark spots on your face

The process of removing dark spots from your face is the same as it is for every other part of the body. There’s no magic product or pill you can take that will clear them all up, so you’ll have to go through a process of trial and error to find the best results for you.

Below we have our most recommended methods for removing dark spots. Some of our tips can be done at home, whereas others require a professional dermatologist.

Sun protection

Since an overwhelming amount of dark spots and hyperpigmentation are caused by excess sun exposure, it’s only right we start here.

Using adequate sun protection like good sunscreen every time you go out is a fantastic way of preventing liver spots from forming. We’d recommend wearing sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Depending on your natural skin type, this will provide much-needed protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays that can irritate, damage, and cause inflammation in the skin.

Skin-Brightening creams/serums

The skin-brightening trend is only growing in popularity. There are many products on the market today dedicated to effectively lighting areas of the skin, such as skin-brightening serums and creams. People may want to do this purely for aesthetic reasons, but this can also be helpful in dealing with dark spots on the face.

By consistently implementing ingredients such as retinol, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, and hydroquinone, skin-brightening products can help to fade and lighten areas of hyperpigmentation over time.[2] It may take a few months to see complete results, but this is a good casual option that will work if given enough time and patience.

Laser removal

If you want a more hard-hitting approach to removing liver spots, you could opt for laser removal treatment.

Performed by a professional dermatologist, laser therapy can effectively fade dark spots and minimize hyperpigmentation in any area of the body. It may take a few sessions to achieve the full desired results depending on your natural skin type, but more and more people are choosing this road to deal with their dark spots.

We’d recommend booking a session with a professional so they can evaluate your skin and give you personalized advice.

Dietary changes

You are what you eat! Making some positive changes to your diet may help with dark spots. To be more specific, including foods that are naturally rich in glutathione could be beneficial.

Glutathione is a strong and effective antioxidant that is often used in brightening products. However, you can increase your natural consumption by eating the following foods more often:

  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Nuts

While we’re not promising miracles, having more glutathione in your life can only be a good thing.

Chemical peels

Using powerful chemical peels might be a fast way of dealing with dark spots. Essentially, chemical peels are exfoliators that work to dissolve and wipe away specific areas of skin. This then stimulates the production and growth of new healthy skin cells.

The idea is that you can potentially chemically wash away the skin cells that are contributing to the dark spots, and allow your body to naturally replace them. Again, we’d recommend speaking to your dermatologist before undertaking this type of procedure.


Learning how to get rid of dark spots on the face can be a process of trial and error. However, by implementing the same techniques used to reduce hyperpigmentation on other parts of the body, you can make some good progress by staying consistent.

Once again, dark spots aren’t usually a sign of medical problems but always keep an eye open for odd or painful symptoms just in case.

Remember to protect your skin effectively from the sun whenever you go out by using sunscreen with SPF 30 at a minimum.

Good luck!

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This article has been reviewed by the in-field experts on our Medical Content Advisory Board to ensure everything is up-to-date and accurate.