‘I’m a Dermatologist, and This Is the 3-Step Drugstore Routine I Swear By for Fading Dark Spots’

Photo: Getty Images/ Plume Creative
There are several different causes behind dark spots—acne scarring, hormones, and genetics, to name a few—but they all have one thing in common: They're notoriously hard to treat. As any derm will tell you, dealing with discoloration requires a seriously diligent routine, and you likely won't see any significant changes overnight. Sigh. 

The silver lining? Putting together an effective regimen doesn't have to cost you a zillion dollars. Recently, board-certified dermatologist Daniel Sugai, MD, let his TikTok followers in on his 3-step drugstore routine for fading even the most difficult dark spots.

Below, find his quick and simple regimen designed to give you a bright and even complexion.

1. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser

Cleansing your face of dirt, makeup, and grime is a crucial first step to ensure your skin has full access to all of the hydrating, brightening, and nourishing ingredients to follow. Dr. Sugai's go-to gentle cleanser is one that W+G editors cannot get enough of: CeraVe's Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser ($16).

"This cleanser uses an amino acid-based surfactant and gently transforms the cream into a delicate foam to help eliminate oil, dirt, and buildup," Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medicine, previously told Well + Good. "It also contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid to help restore the skin barrier and retain moisture."

2. Apply a vitamin C serum

Vitamin C serums are beloved by dermatologists for their ability to protect skin from harsh environmental factors and brighten the complexion—two things that are critical for treating discoloration. As Ivy Lee, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Pasadena, California, previously told Well + Good, the potent antioxidant "decreases the oxidative stress and damage that we get from environmental factors, like UV radiation from being outside, pollution, and smoking." It's also been known to stimulate your skin's collagen production and brighten the overall appearance of dark spots. Dr. Sugai's go-to is the La Roche Posay Pure Vitamin C Serum ($42), which he claims brightens the appearance of dark spots on his skin.

3. Seal with SPF 30+

We will never stop saying it: Make sunscreen your best friend. According to Dr. Sugai, you should be using sunscreen with an SPF above 30 and re-applying every 2 hours—even if you're inside. The sunscreen he recommends is the La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Sunscreen ($37), which has an SPF of 50 and blocks both UV and blue light. This beloved formulation is also water-resistant, fragrance-free, oil-free, and paraben-free, making it great for everyday use.

Want even more beauty intel from our editors? Follow our Fineprint Instagram account) for must-know tips and tricks.

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