If summer were a crush, it would be the level of heartthrob country music ballads are written about. You know, the kind that loves you and leaves you. The kind that’s a good time while it’s here, but better have a nice backside because it’s gonna be gone soon, leaving teardrops on the floor and heartbreak in the air. Only, in the case of summer, those teardrops and heartbreak take the form of so much pigmentation and clogged pores on your otherwise glowing complexion. Because while the high-humidity sunshiny days can feel like a warm hug that greets you when you walk outside, the truth is, summer leaves behind a lot of damage on your skin.

And while this season is the most obvious culprit for your freckles and dark patches because the UV index is highest during these months, your skin tone can get uneven any time of the year, due to hormonal changes in your body and even environmental aggressors, like pollution, that are just chilling freely in the air. So, according to the experts with whom I chatted, pampering your face should be a 365-day job in order to have even skin. Here’s what you should know

Keep scrolling for tips to deal with an uneven skin tone, according to experts.

Photo: Unsplash/Kevin Laminto

Here’s how to even our your skin tone

1. Apply sunscreen every. single. day.

Like so many skin-care issues, prevention is the name of the game, so regardless of the season, you should be loading up on sunscreen to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. That means a daily dose of at least SPF 30 (I’m currently loving Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40) can help to keep skin protected and prevent pigment cells from firing up. “Aging of the skin can occur when the skin is unprotected or poorly protected from the sun. And with fairer skin types, this can lead to discoloration (dyschromia) that can be difficult to cover with makeup,” explains board-certified plastic surgeon Julius Few, MD, FACS.

While the sun is a huge culprit behind your complexion’s discoloration patches, it’s not the only cause of unevenness in your skin tone. “The change in hormones with aging allows the skin to be more sensitive to the environment and makes uneven skin a problem,” Dr. Few adds. “As the skin loses its elasticity, pores become larger and more visible, making the skin uneven and wrinkles more notable.” Commonly skin pigmentation conditions, such as melasma, are the result of hormonal changes that can result in discoloration that requires a targeted approach to address.

2. Use retinol to exfoliate at night

So how do you deal post-summer or once you see pigmentation pop up? The name of the game is exfoliation. Dr. Few explains that for anyone experiencing pigmentation or an uneven skin tone, the best course of action is to hit it from all angles. “Combination or stackable treatments work best, so we recommend at-home retinol and vitamin C-based treatments to enhance the skin’s appearance,” he shares.

Retinol, a vitamin A derivative, is pretty much the heavyweight champion of all anti-agers. In addition to stimulating collagen, it speeds up cell turnover, which means that it helps to create new cells to replace the old, tired ones. That’s great news when it comes to any form of hyperpigmentation, because the ingredient helps to fade dark spots (in addition to a whole slew of things like taming acne, for instance). However, it’s strictly a nighttime ingredient, because it can be photosensitizing, which means that it makes you more susceptible to the sun. To test out a retinol, look for a more tame dose (commonly on packages, you’ll see this as “.5”). SkinMedica Retinol Complex (from $70) offers options that range from 0.5 to 1.0.

3. Try a brightening vitamin C product for daytime

In the morning, you want to work on evening out your skin tone by reaching for an all-star daytime ingredient such as a vitamin C serum. It can work wonders on your skin, because while it’s a magnificent brightener, it’s also a potent antioxidant. This means it can help fend off free radicals (those pesky things that come from pollution) by capping their unbound electrons, which can also be responsible for causing pigment cells to fire and create an uneven skin tone.

“Vitamin C as an antioxidant is the most researched of antioxidants in the world,” says Ole Henriksen, who founded his eponymous skin-care line. “One of the great benefits is that when you use clinically proven, stable, and multiple forms of vitamin C, it the active melanin production and will step-by-step fade it away based on the acidic background of ascorbyl phosphate and the ascorbic acid itself in addition to helping to rebuild collagen.” So by slathering on a serum, such as the Ole Henriksen Truth Serum ($72), you can help to guard against any pigmentation from kicking up and then nix it, if by chance it does.

Or, in other words, your sunny summer fling can be your little secret.

Here are the best vitamin C serums, according to dermatologists. Plus this is how to tell whether your vitamin C serum has gone bad.

How To Get An Even Skin Tone, According To Dermatologists

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Uneven skin tone is one of the most common skin problems. Luckily, with the right topical products and treatments, you can make it a thing of the past. Here, three leading skincare experts discuss how you can achieve the complexion of your dreams:

Get to the bottom of it

There are many causes of an uneven skin tone, the first step is to identify what’s causing the issue. “The most common one is due to sun exposure,” says Dr. Laura Scott, Miami-based board-certified dermatologist and lifestyle blogger. “Our melanocyte cells (the cells that give the skin its color) are activated by sunlight and make more color in response to that. A tan is usually the immediate result of this while sunspots develop over the years because of prolonged unprotected sun exposure,” she adds.

Other causes include post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (for instance, pimple marks and dark spots left after a bug bite or a burn) and melasma, which is usually triggered by a hormonal change (when you’re pregnant or using birth control, for example), notes Dr. Scott.

“Erythema or skin redness is another common factor that can contribute to an uneven skin tone,” says Dr. Sandra Lee aka Dr. Pimple Popper, celebrity dermatologist and founder of SLMD Skincare. It’s often caused by dermatitis (skin inflammation), skin injury or skin conditions such as rosacea. “Erythema can also be triggered by exposure to the sun—which weakens and dilates superficial blood vessels under the skin, causing redness,” explains Dr. Lee.

Excessive oil production by the skin (seborrhea) may also be a factor. “It leads to bumpiness and irregular thickness of the skin, making your skin texture and tone uneven,” tells Dr. Lee.

Now, what can you do to improve your skin tone?

For maintaining an even skin tone, you need to build a skincare routine that focuses on both smoothing out the texture of your skin as well as treating and preventing hyperpigmentation (dark spots).

Try these eight derm-approved tips to improve your skin texture and tone effectively:

Exfoliate once a week. “The top layer of your skin is mostly made up of dead skin cells. Regular exfoliation helps speed up the process of removing those dead skin cells, revealing brighter, smoother skin underneath,” tells Dr. Scott. It also helps decongest your pores by sucking out sebum, dirt and other impurities that can cause breakouts. When searching for an exfoliator, keep your skin type in mind. “For example, if you have dry, bumpy skin, you may need something which contains both chemical and physical exfoliants,” says Dr. Lee. “While those who are prone to acne should avoid physical exfoliants as they tend to be more abrasive and could irritate inflamed skin,” she notes. For those who have oily or acne-prone skin, Dr. Lee recommends using a face exfoliator that has salicylic acid in it. “It’s a fantastic skincare ingredient that most people can benefit from,” she says. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that’s used in many chemical peels. It effectively sloughs off dead skin cells and debris and is great for treating acne. Try Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant or First Aid Beauty Skin Lab Resurfacing Liquid if you’re looking for a chemical exfoliator. For manual exfoliation, try Omorovicza Refining Facial Polisher or Tatcha’s The Rice Polish.

Say hello to glycolic peels. “Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that boosts collagen production and helps break the proteins which act as a ‘glue’ that binds the dead skin cells together,” explains Dr. Scott. “It’s incredible for treating acne, fading dark spots and superficial scars, even early fine lines,” says the dermatologist. They come in many different concentrations. Over-the-counter peels contain a lower concentration as they are meant for at-home use. While the higher medical-grade concentrations are used by dermatologists. “We typically perform this treatment once a month on a patient, but the at-home peels can be used once a week,” tells Dr. Scott. Check out Lancer Skincare’s Caviar Lime Acid Peel and Caudalie’s Glycolic Peel.

Invest in a good vitamin C-rich serum. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps treat sun and environment-induced damage to the skin and neutralizes free radicals. “It also inhibits an enzyme (tyrosinase) that’s used in the production of pigmentation or melanin, which makes it an effective lightening agent,” says Dr. Jenny Liu, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota. To reap its full benefits, wear vitamin C serum during the daytime, recommends Dr. Scott. Try Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma Day Serum or Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum.

Wear sunscreen daily. Both Dr. Scott and Dr. Liu stress that the most important thing is to wear sunscreen every day. “Remember, the cells that make dark spots are activated by sunlight, even a little bit of unprotected exposure can reverse all of the hard work you put in,” says Dr. Scott. So if you want to keep dark spots, flare-ups and skin cancer at bay, don’t forget to slather on a broad spectrum SPF before stepping outside, no matter what the weather condition is. Dr. Lee recommends using a 2-in-1 product that moisturizes your skin and offers broad-spectrum protection at the same time. Try Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart SPF 50 or Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion. If you’re a fan of powdered sunscreens, check out Colorescience’s Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50 and It Cosmetics’ CC+ Airbrush Perfecting Powder.

Incorporate retinol in your nighttime routine. In the evening, Dr. Scott recommends using either retinol or an AHA cream/serum. Retinol, which is a vitamin A derivative, works on hyperpigmentation in two ways—by fading existing dark spots and curbing the production of melanin, which causes dark spots, explains Dr. Lee. “It also slows the breakdown of collagen, while simultaneously encouraging rapid skin cell turnover,” she adds. Try SLMD Retinol Serum or Epionce Intense Defense Serum. Because retinoids break down in sunlight, it’s best to apply retinol products at night. And just to be safe, avoid using retinol if you’re pregnant.

Stop picking your skin. “Please try your hardest to avoid picking at your skin and squeezing any pimples,” says Dr. Lee. “Remember, the more you inflame your skin, the longer you’ll struggle with hyperpigmentation,” she adds. Here are a few simple strategies you can try to keep yourself from picking your skin.

Treat redness with ceramides. If redness is your primary skin concern, the first step is to determine whether or not you have rosacea. “This is a common skin condition that I find is often under-diagnosed as most people simply assume that they have ‘adult acne’ or think that they’ve always had a red face,” says Dr. Scott. “Soothing creams that contain ceramides are often helpful in calming redness,” she tells. Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is another ingredient that is effective at calming red blemishes. For relief from redness, try Murad’s Sensitive Skin Soothing Serum or SkinCeutical’s Phyto Corrective Masque. “There are also certain prescription creams that can help that dermatologists often use in combination,” says Dr. Scott. Besides using topical products, “it’s also important to not over-exfoliate or combine too many products as it can make your skin more sensitive and prone to redness,” adds the skincare expert.

Get a laser treatment. “Both hyperpigmentation and erythema, the two main culprits behind an uneven skin tone, can be treated successfully with laser (such as CO2 laser or pulsed dye laser) or other in-office procedures,” says Dr. Lee. But much is dependent on what’s the main cause of the skin problem. Hyperpigmentation, for instance, can be caused by photoaging, melasma, trauma to the skin, etc. So the kind of treatment you’ll be offered depends on what the underlying cause is in your case, explains the celebrity dermatologist.

If, despite your best efforts, you don’t see any improvement in your skin tone within a few months, visit a dermatologist at the earliest opportunity, recommends Dr. Scott. They may be able to help you get to the root of the problem and provide the right skincare products or in-office treatments to get you glowing in no time.

How to Manage an Uneven Skin Tone

Spoiler alert: there’s no such thing as a perfectly even skin tone. Try as you might, your rosy cheeks, red-tipped nose, hollowed eyes and shaded hairline will forever stand in the way of one universal hue – and that’s a good thing!

A little color adds shape and dimension to your complexion, whether it’s achieved naturally or through the use of everyday cosmetics. However, the trouble begins when your uneven skin tone begins presenting itself in blotchy patches or dark spots known as “hyperpigmentation”. Although perfectly even skin simply doesn’t exist, there are ways for you to manage uneven tones to create a more balanced, harmonious complexion. If you suffer from hyperpigmentation or a severely uneven complexion, read through the following strategies to correct and manage your discolored areas and find your way back to healthier skin.

What is hyperpigmentation?

Let’s break it down: “hyper” means above, and “pigment” means color; together, they refer to the overproduction of melanin. Melanin (produced by melanocytes) is the pigment responsible for the color of human skin, hair, and eyes.

You probably observe melanin most noticeably when you watch your skin tan after a day in the sun, since the complex polymer is part of our body’s natural defense against UV rays. Melanocytes will respond to sun exposure by kicking their production volume of melanin into overdrive. In an attempt to defend against the increased presence of UV light, the dark brown-colored pigment spreads itself across our skin.

Unfortunately, such tanning is usually the desired outcome for most sunbathers, despite the harmful effects it poses on the skin’s health. Unprotected sun exposure comes with a slew of consequences – ranging from mild burns to severe cancer – per the result of photoaging.

Whereas chronological aging refers to the body’s natural processes (changes in hormone levels, the slowing down of collagen production, etc.) photoaging is due to damage caused by UV light. Photoaging is premature and accelerates the onslaught of visible age signs, namely in the form of wrinkles, fine lines, and sunspots.

Hyperpigmentation – or those grayish brown sunspots, formally known as solar lentigines – is usually the result of photoaging due to repeated, unprotected sun exposure. The spots form when melanin is overproduced and creates deposits on the skin which can range in size, shape, and color. These spots are harmless, unlike the dangerous melanoma growths that occur once melanocytes become cancerous; nonetheless, they are considered unsightly, especially amongst those who have them.

Prevention is always best when it comes to warding off the effects of the sun, but if you already have hyperpigmentation, treatment is still possible. Unfortunately, the sun isn’t the only cause of discoloration, and determining the root of your troubles is critical for finding the right management program.

What else causes uneven skin?

Not all dark spots are created equal, and there are a couple additional culprits behind uneven skin. For example, dry skin often lacks sebum which makes it vulnerable to cracking easily. Damaged, unhealthy skin is prone to discoloration and can appear patchy or ashen.

Another common skin condition is melasma, which causes brown, tan, or grayish discoloration of the skin. These patches usually form on the forehead, cheeks, bridge of the nose, and above the upper lip, but they can also occur on other parts of the body such as the forearms and neck. Both men and women can experience the condition, but it’s usually caused due to hormonal changes during pregnancy or birth control usage. Estrogen fluctuations stimulate melanocytes to work overtime and create melasma, or pools of unwanted melanin in the skin. Your skin may be discolored due to an injury (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), or due to pollution in the environment that’s penetrated the skin’s surface. Whatever the reason, reduce your time in the sun while your complexion struggles to balance itself out.

Identifying your pigmentation’s provenance is crucial for creating the proper treatment plan. The wrong treatment can make discoloration darker, so if you’re unsure of the source, consult a skincare professional.

How to Determine your Skin Type

Before you can learn how to treat uneven skin, you first need to determine your unique skin type. Skincare routines must be tailored around your skin, otherwise you run the risk of worsening your complexion concerns by making your face unduly dry, oily, irritated or blemished. Generally speaking, there are four types of skin:

  1. Dry skin: Dry skin produces less sebum (a sticky substance generally known as oil) than normal skin. As such, the skin lacks the lipids it needs to retain moisture and shield against environmental influences.
  2. Combination skin: As the name suggests, those with this skin type have a combination of dry, oily, and normal areas within the complexion. The skin type will generally vary between the T-zone (forehead, chin, and nose) and the cheeks.
  3. Normal skin: “Normal” is the term used to describe well-balanced skin. The T-zone might be a bit oily, but overall the sebum and moisture are balanced in ratio.
  4. Oily skin: Oily skin has a heightened sebum production. The face may appear excessively shiny, with pores frequently enlarged and visible.

If you’re not entirely sure which type of skin you have, refer to the following draft as a useful tool.

How to Treat Uneven Skin

Armed with the knowledge of the skin type you’re battling and which type of hyperpigmentation you’re facing, you can begin treating your uneven skin and taking steps toward correcting your complexion. Ready to get started?

  1. Choose products with your skin type in mind. Although your goal is to treat discoloration, you might add acne or dry flakes to your list of problems by using the wrong products. If you’re not sure which formulas best suit your complexion, here’s some help:
    • Dry skin types should look for mixtures that contain water in oil-emulsions (more oils or lipids than water). The lipid film will smooth cracked surfaces and prevent a further loss of water from the epidermis – your skin’s outermost layer. Look for water-binding ingredients such as urea, lactic acid, and glycerin to enhance the hydrating effects of moisturizers.
    • Combination skin needs special care; the dry spots should be treated with water in oil-emulsion products, whereas oil in water-emulsions (more water than oil or lipids) should only be applied to oily areas to prevent clogging pores.
    • Normal skincare products should keep the skin clean and moisturized without making it too oily. For daytime use, find a light, water-in-oil emulsion formula; however, a product containing more lipids may be beneficial to use at night.
    • Oily skin should only use oil-free fluids or light, oil-in-water emulsion skincare products. Find formulas labeled “non-comedogenic” to decrease the likelihood of clogging enlarged pores.
  2. Exfoliation is a critical step in managing uneven skin tones. To help the correcting ingredients within your cleansers, serums, and moisturizers penetrate the epidermis and do their work, you first need to slough off the dead, dull skin cells at the surface.

Find an exfoliant suitable for your skin type, and use it twice a week to lighten hyperpigmentation and erase away dark spots. Apply your exfoliator following these steps:

  • Apply your exfoliator onto a clean, moist face
  • Use your fingers or wet a wash cloth with warm water
  • In circular motions, gently rub the exfoliant across your face to remove dead skin
  • Rinse the product off using warm water

Be careful not to exfoliate too aggressively or too frequently; otherwise, you might disturb the skin’s natural equilibrium and make your problems worse.

  1. Facials can be an incredibly effective way to repair discoloration in a short amount of time. Either receive a professional-grade facial from either a dermatologist or esthetician, or for those on a budget, perform facials on yourself at home.

If you opt for a chemical facial, consider a chemical peel. These combine a variety of acids and enzymes to literally remove the superficial layers of damaged skin from the face. Chemical facials usually make you red and flaky as the skin peels and sheds itself, but once the process is complete, it’ll look as though you rolled back the clock on your complexion. At-home facials are cost effective and still helpful for managing uneven skin. Buy and over-the-counter product, or make your own facial using natural ingredients! Some ingredients you can use for a facial include:

  • Lemon juice: Lemons are highly enzymatic and citrusy, which both have great healing properties for the skin. Place a dab of lemon juice on affected areas and allow it to sit for 10 minutes (but stay out of the sun during this time).
  • Apple cider vinegar and onion juice: Apple cider vinegar has been hailed as the latest cure-all and is suggested for hair, skin, nails, and nutrition. However, when combined with onion juice, it’s a great remedy for lightening dark spots. Cut an onion and collect the juice that drains, then mix it with equal parts apple cider vinegar. Allow the mixture to sit on your face for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it off with water.
  • Garlic: This one also might also be a little stinky, but garlic can make your skin appear lighter and more natural. We wouldn’t tell you to consume garlic juice – although you can, if you want to – so instead apply a fresh clove to damaged areas and see great effects.
  • Aloe Vera: You’ve probably used Aloe Vera at least once in your life to soothe an aching sunburn due to its immense healing and restorative properties, but are you aware of all the other ways you can use this wonder plant?

From makeup remover to shaving cream, the vitamins and minerals found within anti-inflammatory aloe have beautifying effects on the skin. It’s ideal for rosacea, sensitivity, and overall skin health. Apply the gel directly onto the damaged skin twice a day, or get creative by combining it with other ingredients and using it as a facial. Make your own exfoliator by taking ½ cup of Aloe Vera and adding just enough brown sugar or baking soda to achieve a gritty (not sharp!) texture, then apply it to your face and let it sit a while before rinsing it off. Or, for a calming and nourishing facial, combine 1 tablespoon of aloe with raw organic coconut oil and let it rest on your skin for an anti-aging boost.

At home facials can generally be done once or twice a week depending on which ingredients you use, whereas strong, professional facials are usually performed on a monthly basis. Consult your skincare professional for the best advice.

  1. Exfoliation should be done twice weekly, and facials should be done on either a monthly or weekly basis; however, cleansing and moisturizing your skin should be done every single day. Most experts recommend doing these critical skincare steps twice a day – once in the morning and once at night.

Keeping your complexion clean and moisturized is essential for the health and vitality of your skin. It’ll boost collagen production and increase cell regeneration, thereby helping to counteract the damage caused by sun exposure or hormonal flare-ups. Look for products enriched with skin toning and lightening ingredients, such as:

  • Hydroquinone: This is the most common depigmenting agent used to lighten dark patches on the skin and correct uneven complexions. Hydroquinone is an organic compound that’s readily available in many cosmetic products, although high-strength formulas might require a prescription.
  • Mulberry: A compound made from mulberry plant roots, this ingredient has been shown to dramatically lighten complexions.
  • Kojic acid: This ingredient, produced from the mushroom family, not only whitens, but suppresses the tryosinase enzyme production and impedes melanin formation.
  • Glutathione: Commonly found in soaps, lotions, ointments and even pills, glutathione is a peptide whose strong antioxidant powers have a whitening effect.

When cleansing your face, remember to always pat dry using a clean towel, as rubbing can irritate and worsen dark spots. Use your moisturizer immediately after your wash in order to seal in the wetness and retain the hydration.

  1. Don’t just manage your uneven skin topically; take your treatment a step further by correcting your skin from the inside out. Eating a clean diet helps beautify any complexion, not only uneven ones. Avoid processed foods such as white bread, chips, soda, and candy. The preservatives and additives found within these ingredients cause your blood sugar levels to spike, thereby triggering a hormonal reaction. Additionally, aim to incorporate more foods into your diet that have been proven to improve the quality of your skin, such as:
    • Green tea: Green tea is very high in antioxidants which can improve the quality of your skin while minimizing visible aging effects.
    • Green vegetables: Consuming raw, leafy greens provides the body with high doses of vitamins B and E, along with ample amounts of fiber, which can improve the quality of your skin, help fight sunspots, and give your skin better protection against free radicals.
    • Citrus: Foods that are high in citrus such as oranges and tomatoes contain high amounts of vitamin C, which your body uses to reduce existing pigment, repair skin cells and minimize the effects of UV exposure. Watermelons, grapes, carrots and tomatoes also contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant with a greater-than-average ability to quench free radicals.
    • Tuna: Tuna, salmon, and other seafood are full of healthy fatty acids and omega 3 which, along with a variety of other benefits, can help prevent hyperpigmentation and allow the body to repair damage on the skin.

If you have sunspots, be sure to slather on sunscreen to prevent them from darkening, and if you’re prone to melasma, try to minimize your UV exposure to avoid flare-ups. It may take some time, but if you stay diligent and follow this routine, you’ll see dark spots fade and your complexion even.

How to Apply Makeup to Conceal Uneven Skin

As your hyperpigmentation begins to heal itself through your revised skincare and diet, consider concealing your uneven complexion with a tactful makeup application. A foundation with a blendable, buildable texture can become your new best friend, but be sure to apply it correctly, or risk making your skin appear even blotchier. Follow these steps to look flawless when using products to manage uneven skin:

  1. Begin by first applying a primer or moisturizer. This will allow your concealer and foundation to glide on smoothly, versus settling into fine lines or wrinkles. Having a primed canvas will prevent the makeup from soaking into the skin, thereby preserving its health.
  2. Pick the proper color for your skin. In order to do this, you’ll first need to identify your skin’s unique undertone: warm, cool, or neutral. Warm skin skews yellow, sallow, peachy, or golden; cool undertones exhibit hints of a blush, pink, or beige complexion. Identifying the tone of your skin is something top makeup artists can do in their sleep, but for most people it can be a bit tricky – especially if your complexion is uneven. If you’re unsure which undertone you have, ask yourself these questions:
    • If you look under your wrist, what colors are your veins? Warm skin shows veins that are mostly green, whereas a cool undertone shows veins that are mostly blue.
    • Do you tan easily and rarely sunburn? If so, your skin likely has warm or neutral undertones (but you should still be wearing sunscreen to prevent the worsening of your hyperpigmentation!).
    • Do you look better in silver or gold? Personal preferences aside, cool undertones tend to be flattered by silver or platinum jewelry, whereas warm looks better in gold tones.

Once you determine what category you fall into, find a neutral foundation shade with the slightest hint of your undertone, but be cautious to stay away from formulas that appear either too pink or too yellow.

  1. Apply your concealer before your foundation. Usually concealer is applied under the eyes, along the nose, and on the chin, but those with uneven skin can also apply concealer to areas that need equalizing. Pay extra attention to the red areas around the nose; dot your product in these places and step back to see a noticeably brighter complexion.
  2. If you apply concealer first, you won’t need to use as much product when it comes to foundation. Uneven skin types should avoid a full-coverage foundation application, and instead only apply the product to uneven areas. This strategy will appear the most natural, especially if you use the correct shade for your undertone.
  3. Blend your foundation correctly. Always start at the center of your face and move in an outward direction. You can use a brush, blender, sponge, or fingers, but whatever you use, don’t forget to take care of the neck. Without blending your foundation into your neck and jaw, you’ll see a distinctive line of where you stopped, causing that dreaded “mask face”.

These are the basic makeup steps for a flawless complexion, but you can always take your look further and correct your color using blush, bronzers, and highlighters. Setting sprays are great once your application is complete and can help you achieve a long-lasting wear.

Key Takeaways

Managing uneven skin tone doesn’t always depend on high-tech lasers and expensive doctors. If those things are in your budget, you’re luckier than most. However, those looking for a more affordable way to correct discoloration should begin with this guide. Let’s recap how to manage an uneven skin tone:

  1. Identify the reason behind your hyperpigmentation
  2. Determine your skin type to create the best skincare routine for your complexion
  3. Treat your uneven skin using proper skincare, the correct products, and a clean diet
  4. Figure out your skin’s undertone to find a makeup shade that can best blends discoloration

Remember – perfectly even skin doesn’t exist, but if you see no improvement at all in your uneven complexion after following these four steps, it might be time to consult a dermatologists to rule out any medical conditions. Stop allowing your skin to make you look and feel years older than your age; get started today and rediscover your youthful radiance.

Whether you follow natural remedies or medical treatment options, you need to be patient and wait before you see results. However, if you need any quick-fixes while you wait to get back your natural and an evened out skin tone, you can use makeup.

How To Manage Uneven Skin Tone With Makeup

This is just a temporary solution to conceal uneven skin tone. Here are the steps that you need to follow to get an even skin tone with makeup:

  1. Prep your skin: Use a moisturizer followed by a primer to prepare your skin before you put any makeup product.
  2. Color Correct Your Skin: A good color corrector can hide dark spots, redness, and uneven skin tone. Click here to learn more about color correcting.
  3. Apply Concealer: You can use a concealer before you apply the foundation. It helps to hide any dark spots, dark circles, and blemishes on your skin.
  4. Apply Foundation: Choose a foundation that matches your skin tone and spread it evenly on your face. Check your undertone to determine the right foundation for your face. If you have used a concealer, you may not need much product on your face. Blend it properly, and you are good to go.

These are basic makeup tips that you can follow to fix the uneven spots on your face quickly.

Taking care of your skin is something that shouldn’t be an occasional affair. While these face masks can help you combat uneven skin tone, blemishes, and acne, embracing daily skin care practices is the only way to maintain great skin. Here’s a quick view of the things you need to do to fix an uneven skin tone.

Lifestyle Tips To Reduce Uneven Skin Tone

Adopt these healthy lifestyle habits to maintain a blemish-free skin:

1. Keep Your Skin Hydrated

Dry skin appears dull and lifeless. It makes your skin appear uneven. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking water at regular intervals. Opt for herbal drinks and flavored detox water.

2. Avoid Excessive Sun Exposure

Long-term exposure to sun rays may cause hyperpigmentation, tanning, and uneven skin tone. Use sunscreen before you step out. Also, avoid the sun during peak hours and try to stay under the shade.

3. Exfoliate Regularly

This is the best way to maintain an even skin tone. Exfoliation sloughs off the dead skin cells to reveal glowing and healthy skin.

4. Add Antioxidant-rich Foods To Your Diet

Consume more vegetables, whole grains, seafood, poultry, and low-fat dairy products. These foods provide your cells with all the essential nutrients and keep them healthy and give you a clear skin tone.

5. Exercise Regularly

Exercising is not only great for your body, but it also boosts circulation, tones your muscles and skin, and reduces skin-damaging stress.

Unless you follow a proper skin care routine religiously, it is nearly impossible to combat issues like uneven skin tone. A toner rebalances your skin, keeps it glowing, and gives it an even tone. A lot of these results depend on what type of toner you use. Let’s take a look at the types of toners.

Best Toners For Uneven Skin Tone

Toners essentially come in three variants:

  • Alcohol-free (contains glycerine and 0% alcohol)
  • Skin tonics (containing up to 20% alcohol)
  • Astringents (containing up to 60% alcohol)

Select a toner depending on your skin type:

  • If you have dry skin, alcohol-free toners are best for you. They are neither too harsh on the skin, nor do they dry the skin out. They do just what they are supposed to – maintain the pH balance of the skin.
  • For people with other skin types, skin tonics work better. These remove all traces of oil from the face. They help keep your face squeaky clean.

There are a number of beauty products available on the market that you can use to bid goodbye to uneven skin tone. Let’s check out a few of them.

Best Products For Uneven Skin Tone

1. QRx Labs Glycolic Acid 50% Gel Peel

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What Does It Do?

Glycolic acid is a skin lightening agent. It reduces hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone by promoting cell regeneration. However, before applying, do a patch test to check if the product suits your skin.

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2. Alpha Skin Care Dual Action Skin Lightener

What Does It Do?

It contains 2% Hydroquinone and 10% Glycolic acid. It helps inhibit dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and age spots to improve your skin tone and make it bright.

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3. Tetyana Dark Spot Corrector

What Does It Do?

This is extremely effective in treating dark spots, pigmentation, damaged skin, and age spots. It contains 4-Butylresorcinol, kojic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, and morinda citrifolia extract. These ingredients help inhibit melanin production, restore the damaged skin, and nourish it to give a clear skin tone.

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Anything can make your skin tone uneven – from poor lifestyle choices to excessive sun exposure. Hence, it is important to have a skin care routine that suits your skin. Take your time to see which routine works best for you and stick to it.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Are hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone the same thing?

They are similar with subtle differences. Hyperpigmentation may be a reason for uneven skin tone, which can also be caused by a lot of other factors. Hyperpigmentation is usually caused by any inflammation caused by skin damage.

How do I know what’s causing my uneven skin tone?

Consult the doctor to know if there are any underlying reasons.

20 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • Facial hyperpigmentation: causes and treatment, British Journal of Dermatology, Wiley Online Library.
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bjd.12536
  • Postinflammatory Hyperpigmentation, The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921758/
  • An updated review of melasma pathogenesis, Dermatologica Sinica, ScienceDirect.
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1027811714000548
  • In-House Preparation and Standardization of Herbal Face Pack, The Open Dermatology Journal, Bentham Open, Semantic Scholar.
  • Epidermal and dermal effects of topical lactic acid, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, ScienceDirect.
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0190962296906027
  • Effects of Turmeric (Curcuma longa) on Skin Health: A Systematic Review of the Clinical Evidence., Phytotherapy Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27213821
  • Antioxidant activity of topically applied lycopene. Journal of European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14678532
  • Antimicrobial Activity of Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) Essential Oil and Their Major Constituents against Three Species of Bacteria, Frontiers in Microbiology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4868837/
  • Therapeutics Role of Azadirachta indica (Neem) and Their Active Constituents in Diseases Prevention and Treatment, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791507/
  • Traditional and Medicinal Uses of Carica papaya, Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies.
  • Efficacy of topical cinnamon gel for the treatment of facial acne vulgaris: A preliminary study, Biomedical Research and Therapy, BioMedPress, http://www.bmrat.org/index.php/BMRAT/article/view/515
  • Honey in Dermatology and Skin Care: A Review, Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24305429-honey-in-dermatology-and-skin-care-a-review/
  • Colloidal oatmeal: history, chemistry and clinical properties., Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17373175
  • Study Antimicrobial Activity of Lemon (Citrus lemon L.) Peel Extract, British Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology, ResearchGate, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236217959_Study_Antimicrobial_Activity_of_Lemon_Citrus_lemon_L_Peel_Extract
  • Therapeutic Potential of Pterocarpus santalinus L.: An Update, Pharmacognosy Review, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791987/
  • Aloe Vera: A Short Review, Indian Journal of Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763764/
  • A Pilot Study of Skin Resurfacing Using the 2,790-nm Erbium:YSGG Laser System, Archives of Plastic Surgery, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4297807/
  • TOPICAL TREATMENT OF MELASMA, Indian Journal of Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2807702/
  • Evidence and Considerations in the Application of Chemical Peels in Skin Disorders and Aesthetic Resurfacing, The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921757/
  • Microdermabrasion: An Evidence-Based Review, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20048628-microdermabrasion-an-evidence-based-review/

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Ramona Sinha

Ramona has a Master’s degree in English Literature. She believes that beauty begins with a good skin care regimen and is on a mission to eliminate all toxins from her routine. She helps readers select products and ingredients specific to their skin type and gives out tips to keep their skin healthy in a natural way. When Ramona is not working or experimenting with a new skin care product or ingredient, her books and a passion for music, good food, and traveling keep her busy.

How to fix uneven skin tone: What you need to know

Most people turn to makeup to correct uneven skin tone and texture, but why not solve the problem instead of masking it? The term uneven skin tone can mean several different things ranging from texture to hyperpigmentation concerns. The first step to fixing hyperpigmentation is to identify the cause of the problem. Keep reading to learn how to fix uneven skin tone for good.

Why do I have uneven skin tone?

There are many different causes of uneven skin tone and texture. Skin texture can become uneven due to UV damage, dehydration, poor lifestyle choices, natural aging, and poor circulation. Whereas hyperpigmentation (uneven skin color and skin discoloration) has three main causes: UV exposure, hormonal imbalances, and injury. Identify the cause of your uneven skin tone to prevent further damage.

UV exposure is the common factor that damages both skin texture and color, so it is crucial to wear a broad spectrum SPF every day in addition to the steps below if you truly want to achieve an even skin tone.

How to fix uneven skin tone at home

Aside from protecting skin from further UV damage, there are other steps to take to remedy an uneven skin tone on the face. Always use the best products for uneven skin tone:

1) Exfoliate

To create even, flawless skin, exfoliation is an absolute necessity. In addition to solving uneven skin texture, exfoliating also helps unclog pores, minimize the appearance of dark under eye circles and crows feet, diminish fine lines and wrinkles, and lessen excess oil production.

If you prefer physical scrubs, try Pumice Peel. This “microdermabrasion in a jar” is filled with ultra-fine pumice crystals that buff away dullness, fine lines, and problem pores to create an even texture and tone.

If you want a deeper exfoliation or dislike the feeling of physical facial scrubs, opt for a chemical exfoliant, like Quick Refiner instead. This leave-on gel will visibly smooth skin with powerful alpha hydroxy acids.

For a total purge of impurities, use fan-favorite Kerafole. This will give pores a deep cleanse in addition to vastly improving texture and tone. Perform the Kerafole Purge by using this 10-minute mask 7 days in a row. The Kerafole Purge will sweep away dulling cells and uncover fresh, smooth, and bright skin.

Pro tip: Suffer from uneven skin tone around your mouth? Use a gentle exfoliator, like Measured Micrograins + and softly massage onto your lips and the surrounding skin.

2) Target hyperpigmentation

Aside from exfoliation and UV protection, other uneven skin tone products work to tackle hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation will definitely contribute to an uneven skin tone on the face, whether it’s acne spots, melasma, sun spots or overall discoloration. If you suffer from spots or small patches, try LightPlex GigaWatt Dark Spot Corrector. It pinpoints and obliterates stubborn dark spots to create an even skin tone.

For overall discoloration, use LightPlex MegaWatt Skin Brightener to even out tone and brighten skin for all over luminous, hydrated skin.

3) Protect against pollution

Unfortunately, pollution is now one of the biggest causes of uneven skin texture and tone. In fact, recent dermatological studies directly connect pollution with increased dark spots* – not to mention wrinkles! Combine pollution protection with your uneven skin tone products for healthy skin.

Remineralist Daily Moisture replenishes skin’s depleted minerals to achieve the elemental equilibrium of young skin. Skin is endowed with an even tone, renewed hydration and powerful protection against daily forces that cause aging and uneven skin texture.

How to fix uneven skin tone in the treatment room

An uneven skin tone treatment in the spa may be necessary to create the perfect complexion. Depending on the severity of your skin concerns, there are several different treatment options:

1) Enzyme exfoliation

Enzyme exfoliation is a type of chemical exfoliation used during a professional facial. The enzymes work more gently than AHA chemicals to break down the “glue” that holds dead, dulling skin cells together. This treatment is ideal for anyone too sensitive for chemical peels that experiences hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, clogged pores, or overall dull skin.

2) Chemical peels

Chemical peels can be the holy grail when it comes to creating an even skin tone. Don’t let the stigma chemical peels have scare you – as long as you opt for a modern chemical peel, like Bioelements Ultra-Detox Chemical Peels, you won’t have any of the side effects people often associate with traditional peels (like peeling, flaking or redness). With the correct modern chemical peel your skin should be hydrated, detoxified, nourished and exfoliated immediately upon exiting the spa.

3) Bioelements Depigmenting and Brightening Facial

This specific facial is designed to tackle hyperpigmentation concerns. It starts with a thorough professional cleansing, followed by an exfoliation treatment custom blended just for you. The facial is finished with clinical-strength LightPlex GigaWatt Dark Spot Corrector and an activated charcoal mask to help penetrate the active ingredients deep into your skin.

Find a Bioelements spa near you.

If you have any questions about how to fix uneven skin tone, sign up for our email newsletter here or comment below!

*Source: Journal of Investigative Dermatology

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