Your everyday life usually prepares you for certain aspects of aging. Fine lines and wrinkles? Yep. A more rigorous natural skin care routine to keep your skin’s supple appearance? You’re already on it.
What you might not have been prepared for are the dark spots that could randomly show up out of the blue, altering your oh-so-smooth complexion. Surprise!
Thankfully, there are skin care products for all of the above—even dark spots. From papaya to honey, we’ve compiled a list of eight of the best ingredients for dark spots that can help bring back your porcelain complexion—and keep the dark sun spots at bay.
What Are Dark Spots?
Before we dive into ingredients, let’s dissect what dark spots really are. The formal term for dark spots—hyperpigmentation—occurs when your skin produces an overabundance of melanin. Melanin is responsible for giving your skin, hair, and eyes their color. The more melanin your skin produces, the darker your features will be.
Dark spots vary in size and are more commonly found on areas of your skin that regularly sees sun exposure, such as your:
What Causes Dark Spots? (And How to Treat Them)
If you find yourself wondering why you suddenly have these dark pigmentations on your glowing skin—we get it. Before you find the right skin care ingredients to treat your dark spots, you want to know what’s causing the skin discoloration..
There are a few reasons you might find one (or more) dark spots on your glowing skin, including:1
- Exposure to sun – Sun exposure is one of the most common culprits of dark sun spots. After being in the sun, your skin increases melanin production, which can cause some areas of your skin to darken.
- Changes in hormones – Because of the rapid influx and change of hormones during pregnancy, some women find themselves with melasma, a form of hyperpigmentation that produces dark-colored patches, typically on the face.2
- Inflammation – After a bout of acne scars, psoriasis, or other types of inflammation, dark spots can occur due to your skin producing extra melanin after an injury.
8 Natural Ingredients for Dark Spots
Choosing to use natural ingredients to reduce your dark spots can be beneficial for yourself and others. Not only are they better for the environment, but they’re also:
- Full of beneficial nutrients for your skin (like antioxidants and vitamins)
- Gentle on your skin
- Easy to pronounce so you know exactly what you’re using
Below is a list of 8 natural ingredients to consider using on your dark spots (many of which you might have lying around your kitchen this very second!):
#1 Apple Cider Vinegar
You can find apple cider vinegar in premade masks containing natural ingredients.
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which acts as a natural chemical peel to exfoliate dead skin cells. After sloughing off the old cells, your skin becomes a fresh canvas, ready to show off the new, fresh skin cells underneath.3
You’re probably familiar with using honey in some of your favorite foods and beverages—a hefty tablespoon in your morning bowl of oatmeal, a dollop in your tea, maybe even a quick swirl on top of your yogurt. But have you ever considered using it as a mask on your face?
We didn’t think so, but it’s chock full of beneficial properties that might help with your dark spots, including:
- It’s an anti-inflammatory – Studies have shown that honey contains flavonoid and polyphenol, which increases its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are known for their anti-inflammatory capabilities.4 So when you apply honey to your skin, it may reduce inflammation caused by irritants.
- It’s an exfoliator – Honey contains enzymes that may contribute to the removal of dead skin cells on your face.4 Since it’s a smooth substance, it can act as a gentle exfoliant to reveal new, more radiant skin underneath. If you’re seeking a more dynamic natural exfoliation duo, consider adding ground oatmeal to the mixture.
#3 Vitamin E oil
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant found naturally in avocados, olive oil, and sweet potatoes. As an antioxidant, it fights free radicals caused by UV rays, pollution, smoking, and more. Free radicals can cause damage to our skin cells,5 leading to signs of premature aging, such as:
- Dark spots
- Fine lines
Skin care products with vitamin E can create a protective barrier on your face to keep your skin cells safe from the negative impacts of free radicals.6 This may decrease your chances of finding new dark spots on your skin any time soon.
#4 Vitamin C
Sure, eating your daily vitamin C gummies might shorten the length of an impending cold, but did you know it’s also used to help improve the quality of your skin? From reducing redness to improving your dark spots, it touts a very robust resume when it comes to skin benefits, including:7
- Being safe for most skin types
- Providing hydration to your skin
- Brightening your skin
- Evening out your skin tone
- Promoting collagen production (which may keep your skin more smooth and firm)
Found naturally in citrus, berries, and other fruit, you can also use vitamin C in serums, creams, and other skin care products. Research has shown that it may inhibit melanin production, which can help to lighten your dark spots over time.8
If you’re looking for methods of using vitamin C directly from the source, you can use lemon juice or orange peels, both of which are bursting with the prized ingredient. Simply apply the juice from either fruit directly onto your dark spots and let it sit for about 20 minutes before rinsing it off.9
#5 Aloe Vera
Have you ever rubbed aloe vera on your skin after having a little too much fun in the sun? In addition to cooling off your toasty skin and being known for its wound-healing abilities (we’re looking at you, sunburn), some of the chemicals inside the aloe vera leaf make it another component to add to your growing ingredient list for combatting dark spots.
There are two chemicals naturally found in aloe vera that may positively impact your dark spots, and they include:
According to existing studies, they work by destroying existing melanin cells and preventing new melanin cells from forming.11 This may result in the reduction of current dark spots and the prevention of new ones.
Oatmeal isn’t just another fantastically healthy and versatile breakfast option (although it is both of those things). It’s more than that. It’s also a surprisingly useful ingredient that may fade your dark spots, as it contains:
- Amino acids
- Vitamin E
When used on your sensitive skin, the combination of those nutrients may help to fight off the darkening of your skin pigmentation and instead, brighten your skin tone.
If you’re a woman on the go, however, you can skip the DIY lesson and use a pre-made mask made with oat flour and other natural (and fresh) ingredients.
Are you familiar with that quintessential spa scene in movies? You know the one—the main character arrives at the spa and is immediately pampered with a white fuzzy robe, a face mask, and two cucumbers covering their eyelids to help them relax.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t just for show! Cucumbers contain antioxidative properties that may help to reduce puffiness and dark circles under your eyes.12 (Who knew!) Those very same antioxidants might also help diminish dark spots on your skin, especially when used as a mask.
Want to know about papaya benefits for skin? The papaya is another excellent natural exfoliant It contains alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) which you can use as a chemical exfoliator. Many skin care products use AHAs to help remove the top layer of dead skin from your face, leaving behind a fresh, new layer.13
Making a papaya mask is as easy as bada-bing-bada-boom! Simply mash your papaya and apply it to clean skin. After it’s dry, you can remove it with water. Feel free to rinse it with a wet washcloth for an extra layer of exfoliation.
Fight Dark Spots with HPPY’s Masks (with Natural Ingredients)
Diminishing the dark spots on your face doesn’t have to be complicated (or a chore). Why not use a skin care product with ingredients you can pronounce and can enjoy using each week?
That’s where HPPY comes in. We’ve created a line of products, made with our cold water high-pressure process technology, that contain potent fresh ingredients to help relieve your skin of dark spots (and so much more).
Your skin is the largest organ on your body. Fuel it with what it craves—natural, plant-based ingredients that are safe for sensitive skin.
- Medical News Today. Dark Spots on the Skin. Causes and How to Treat Them. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324833#symptoms
- Healthline. Melasma. https://www.healthline.com/health/melasma#symptoms
- NIH. Use of organic acids in acne and skin discolorations therapy. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25811473/
- Healthline. Are There Benefits to Using Honey and Lemon on Your Face? https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/honey-and-lemon-for-face#benefits-of-honey
- Today. What Are Free Radicals, and How Do They Affect Your Skin? https://www.today.com/style/what-are-free-radicals-how-do-they-affect-your-skin-t150296
- Women’s Health. Here's Exactly How Vitamin E Oil Can Transform Your Skin. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/beauty/a28249734/vitamin-e-oil-benefits/
- Healthline. 11 Reasons to Add Vitamin C Serum to Your Skin Care Routine. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/vitamin-c-serum-benefits#benefits
- NIH. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579659/
- AARP. Get the Upper Hand On Age Spots.
- Thieme. On The Novel Action of Melanolysis by a Leaf Extract of Aloe vera and Its Active Ingredient Aloin, Potent Skin Depigmenting Agents. https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-0031-1298406
- Medical News Today. Can Cucumbers Be Beneficial to Undereye Skin? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/cucumbers-on-eyes#
- Byrdie. 7 Remedies for Dark Spots, According to a Dermatologist. https://www.byrdie.com/how-to-treat-dark-spots-4686898
- Derm Collective. How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Treat Hyperpigmentation? https://dermcollective.com/apple-cider-vinegar-for-hyperpigmentation/