Discoloration serums are skincare products that treat hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. Skincare products that treat hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone.
Videos featuring discoloration serums have over 85 million views on TikTok.
Interest in this product category is growing mainly because several DTC brands have recently launched discoloration serums.
For example, a discoloration serum by Paula’s Choice generates around $99K/month on Amazon.
Discoloration serums are part of the Skin Tone SkinTok meta trend.
The #skintok hashtag has over 15 billion views on TikTok.
And we are seeing growing demand for products designed to improve skin tone.
Examples of trending products in this category include:
Glowing sunscreen is a protective skincare product with a pearlescent finish. Searches for this product have increased by 3167% over the past five years.
Bronzing drops are typically added to moisturizers or serums in order to add subtle color and glow. Searches for bronzing drops have grown 5000% over the past 24 months.
Barrier creams help maintain the skin barrier, protecting it from irritation and dryness. Searches for this product have increased by 154% over the last five years.
Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)
Question: What is a discoloration serum?
Answer: A discoloration serum is a type of skin care product that is designed to target and correct the appearance of uneven skin tone, dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and sun damage. A discoloration serum usually contains active ingredients that can inhibit the production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color, or exfoliate the surface layer of the skin to reveal a more even complexion. Some examples of ingredients that can help with discoloration are vitamin C, niacinamide, tranexamic acid, kojic acid, glycolic acid, and retinol.
Question: What is tranexamic acid and how does it work for skin discoloration?
Answer: Tranexamic acid is a derivative of the amino acid lysine that has anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrinolytic properties. It was originally used as a medication to treat excessive bleeding, but it was later discovered that it can also reduce the appearance of melasma, a type of skin discoloration characterized by brown or gray patches on the face. Tranexamic acid works by blocking the interaction between melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin) and plasmin (an enzyme that triggers inflammation and stimulates melanin synthesis). By doing so, tranexamic acid can prevent or reduce the formation of excess melanin and improve skin tone and texture.
Question: How does a Discoloration Serum work?
Answer: A Discoloration Serum works by targeting the different causes and types of skin discoloration with various mechanisms, such as:
- Antioxidants: These are substances that protect the skin from oxidative stress and free radical damage, which can trigger inflammation and increase melanin synthesis. Examples of antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, resveratrol, and green tea extract.
- Tyrosinase inhibitors: These are substances that block the enzyme tyrosinase, which is responsible for converting tyrosine into melanin. By inhibiting tyrosinase, these substances prevent or reduce the formation of new pigment in the skin. Examples of tyrosinase inhibitors are hydroquinone, kojic acid, azelaic acid, arbutin, and licorice extract.
- Retinoids: These are derivatives of vitamin A that stimulate cell turnover and collagen production, which can improve the texture and tone of the skin. Retinoids can also help fade existing pigment by increasing the shedding of dead skin cells and enhancing the penetration of other ingredients. Examples of retinoids are retinol, retinaldehyde, and tretinoin.
- Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs): These are organic acids that exfoliate the surface layer of the skin by breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells. AHAs can help remove excess pigment and reveal a brighter and smoother skin. Examples of AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, and malic acid.
- Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs): These are organic acids that exfoliate both the surface and deeper layers of the skin by penetrating into the pores and dissolving sebum and debris. BHAs can help reduce acne and inflammation, which can cause or worsen skin discoloration. The most common BHA is salicylic acid.
- Tranexamic acid: This is a synthetic amino acid that inhibits the activity of plasmin, an enzyme that triggers inflammation and melanin production in response to UV exposure or hormonal fluctuations. Tranexamic acid can help treat melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Question: How do I use a discoloration serum?
Answer: A discoloration serum is typically applied to clean skin after cleansing but before moisturizing. You only need a few drops of the serum to cover your entire face, or you can focus on the areas where you have discoloration. You can use a discoloration serum once or twice a day, depending on your skin type and sensitivity. However, some ingredients that can help with discoloration, such as vitamin C and retinol, can make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure, so you should always wear sunscreen during the day when using a discoloration serum.
Question: Can a discoloration serum be used on all skin types?
Answer: Most discoloration serums are designed to be suitable for a wide range of skin types. However, it’s important to consider individual skin sensitivities and potential allergies to certain ingredients. Some active ingredients, such as hydroquinone, may not be recommended for individuals with sensitive or reactive skin. It’s always a good idea to perform a patch test or consult with a dermatologist before incorporating a new discoloration serum into your skincare routine, especially if you have specific skin concerns or conditions.
Question: How long does it take to see results from a discoloration serum?
Answer: The results from a discoloration serum may vary depending on the severity of your discoloration, the type and concentration of the active ingredients in the serum, and your skin’s response to the product. In general, it may take at least four to eight weeks of consistent use to see noticeable improvement in your skin tone and texture. However, some discoloration may be more stubborn and require longer-term treatment or more aggressive interventions, such as chemical peels or laser therapy.
Question: What ingredients should I look for in a discoloration serum?
Answer: Key ingredients to look for in an effective discoloration serum include vitamin C, niacinamide, licorice extract, arbutin, kojic acid, mulberry, bearberry, alpha arbutin, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (vitamin C derivative), and hydroquinone. Retinol can also help increase cell turnover. Avoid products with fragrance, essential oils and other potential irritants if you have sensitive skin.
Question: What are the benefits of using a discoloration serum?
Answer: Using a discoloration serum can have several benefits for your skin health and appearance. Some of the benefits are:
- It can help fade dark spots, hyperpigmentation, sun damage, and other forms of discoloration that can make your skin look dull or uneven.
- It can help brighten and enhance your natural skin tone and radiance.
- It can help improve your skin texture and smoothness by exfoliating dead skin cells and stimulating collagen production.
- It can help prevent future discoloration by protecting your skin from oxidative stress and environmental damage.
- It can help boost the effectiveness of your other skin care products by allowing them to penetrate deeper into your skin.
Question: What are the side effects of using a discoloration serum?
Answer: A discoloration serum is generally safe and well-tolerated by most people, but some potential side effects may occur depending on your skin type, sensitivity, and the ingredients in the product. Some of the common side effects are:
- Irritation, redness, itching, burning, or stinging at the site of application.
- Dryness, flaking, peeling, or increased sensitivity of the skin.
- Allergic reaction or contact dermatitis, which may cause swelling, rash, hives, or blisters.
- Photosensitivity or increased risk of sunburn.
To minimize these side effects, you should always patch test a new product before using it on your face, follow the directions on the label or consult with your dermatologist for proper usage instructions, start with a lower concentration or frequency of application and gradually increase as tolerated, use gentle and hydrating products along with the serum to soothe and moisturize your skin, and avoid direct sun exposure or use adequate sun protection when using a discoloration serum. If you experience any severe or persistent side effects, you should stop using the product immediately and seek medical attention if needed.
Question: Who should use a discoloration serum?
Answer: A discoloration serum can be used by anyone who wants to improve their skin tone and texture or address specific concerns such as dark spots, hyperpigmentation, sun damage, or acne scars. However, some people may benefit more from using a discoloration serum than others, such as:
- People with darker skin tones, who tend to produce more melanin and are more prone to developing discoloration due to inflammation, hormonal changes, or sun exposure.
- People with aging skin, who may experience loss of elasticity, collagen, and moisture, as well as increased exposure to environmental stressors that can cause discoloration over time.
- People with acne-prone skin, who may have post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or acne scars that can leave behind dark marks or uneven texture on the skin.
However, not everyone can use a discoloration serum safely or effectively. Some people who should avoid using a discoloration serum or consult with their dermatologist before using one are:
- People with sensitive skin, who may react adversely to the active ingredients in the serum or experience irritation or dryness from the product.
- People with rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, or other skin conditions that may worsen with the use of exfoliating or brightening agents.
- People with melasma, a type of hyperpigmentation that is influenced by hormonal factors and may not respond well to topical treatments or may even worsen with sun exposure.
- People who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking certain medications that may interact with the ingredients in the serum or affect their skin sensitivity.
Question: Who should not use a discoloration serum?
Answer: Discoloration serums should be avoided if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. People with sensitive skin should exercise caution. Hydroquinone products are not recommended for anyone under 18 years old. Those with darker skin tones should use lower strength hydroquinone preparations due to increased risk of ochronosis.
Question: How do I choose the best discoloration serum for my skin type and concern?
Answer: There are many different types of discoloration serums available on the market, each with different ingredients, formulations, concentrations, and benefits. To choose the best discoloration serum for your skin type and concern, you should consider the following factors:
- The cause and type of your discoloration. Different types of discoloration may require different types of ingredients to treat them effectively. For example, vitamin C and niacinamide are good for fading sun spots and brightening the skin tone, while tranexamic acid and kojic acid are good for reducing melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. You should also consider the depth and severity of your discoloration, as some ingredients may be more potent and penetrating than others.
- Your skin type and sensitivity. Different ingredients may suit different skin types better than others. For example, glycolic acid and retinol are good for oily and acne-prone skin, as they can exfoliate the pores and reduce breakouts, while hyaluronic acid and ceramides are good for dry and sensitive skin, as they can hydrate and repair the skin barrier. You should also consider your skin’s tolerance and reaction to the ingredients, as some may cause irritation or dryness if used too frequently or at too high a concentration.
- Your budget and preference. Different discoloration serums may vary in price, quality, availability, and packaging. You should choose a discoloration serum that fits your budget and preference, as well as delivers the results you want. You should also look for reputable brands that have good reviews and customer service, as well as transparent labels that list the ingredients and concentrations clearly.
- The compatibility and synergy with your other skin-care products: Some ingredients in discoloration serum may interact negatively or positively with your other skin-care products, affecting their efficacy or safety. For example, vitamin C may degrade or oxidize when exposed to light or air, so it should be stored in a dark and airtight container and used with sunscreen. On the other hand, vitamin C may enhance the effects of sunscreen and other antioxidants, such as vitamin E or ferulic acid. Therefore, it is advisable to check the ingredient list and compatibility of your discoloration serum with your other skin-care products before using them together.
Question: Can I use more than one discoloration serum at a time?
Answer: It is possible to use more than one discoloration serum at a time, but it is not necessary or recommended for most people. Using multiple discoloration serums may increase the risk of side effects such as irritation, dryness, sensitivity, or allergic reaction. It may also reduce the effectiveness of each product by diluting or interfering with their absorption into the skin. Instead of using multiple discoloration serums at a time, you should look for a single product that contains a combination of ingredients that can address your specific concerns. For example, you can look for a discoloration serum that contains vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid for antioxidant protection and brightening effect. Alternatively, you can use different discoloration serums at different times of the day or on alternate days to avoid overloading your skin with too many active ingredients at once.
Question: What are some of the best discoloration serums on the market?
Answer: There are many discoloration serums available on the market, each with different formulations, concentrations, and benefits. Some of the best-reviewed ones are:
- SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense Multi-Phase Serum: This serum contains 3% tranexamic acid, 1% kojic acid, 5% niacinamide, and 5% HEPES to target stubborn brown patches and post-acne marks. It is clinically proven to improve skin brightness and clarity in 12 weeks.
- Murad Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum: This serum contains 2% hydroquinone, glycolic acid, hexapeptide-2, and vitamin C to fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation. It is fast-acting and suitable for all skin tones.
- Hyper Skin Fade & Glow AHA Brightening Serum: This serum contains 10% glycolic acid, kojic acid, azelaic acid, vitamin C, turmeric, and bearberry to exfoliate dead skin cells and brighten dull complexion. It is vegan and cruelty-free.
- Good Molecules Discoloration Correcting Serum: This product contains 3% cetyl tranexamate mesylate (a more stable form of tranexamic acid) and 4% niacinamide to improve the appearance of skin discoloration and uneven skin tone.
Question: What are the different types of Discoloration Serums?
Answer: There are many different types of Discoloration Serums available on the market, each with its own formulation, concentration, and delivery system. Some of the most common types are:
- Hydroquinone-based serums: These are serums that contain hydroquinone as their main active ingredient. Hydroquinone is one of the most potent and effective tyrosinase inhibitors, but it can also cause side effects such as irritation, allergic reactions, or ochronosis (a bluish-black discoloration) with prolonged or improper use. Hydroquinone-based serums are usually available in concentrations ranging from 2% to 4%, with higher concentrations requiring a prescription from a doctor.
- Vitamin C-based serums: These are serums that contain vitamin C as their main active ingredient. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can protect the skin from UV damage, stimulate collagen synthesis, and inhibit melanin production. Vitamin C-based serums are usually available in concentrations ranging from 5% to 20%, with higher concentrations providing more benefits but also more risks of irritation or oxidation. Vitamin C-based serums can also contain other ingredients such as vitamin E, ferulic acid, or hyaluronic acid to enhance their stability and efficacy.
- Retinol-based serums: These are serums that contain retinol as their main active ingredient. Retinol is a form of vitamin A that can improve the texture and tone of the skin by increasing cell turnover and collagen production. Retinol-based serums are usually available in concentrations ranging from 0.1% to 1%, with higher concentrations providing more benefits but also more risks of irritation or sensitivity. Retinol-based serums can also contain other ingredients such as niacinamide, ceramides, or peptides to enhance their tolerability and performance.
- Niacinamide-based serums: These are serums that contain niacinamide as their main active ingredient. Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that can improve the appearance of uneven skin tone, dullness, enlarged pores, and fine lines. Niacinamide-based serums are usually available in concentrations ranging from 2% to 10%, with higher concentrations providing more benefits but also more risks of flushing or itching. Niacinamide-based serums can also contain other ingredients such as zinc, hyaluronic acid, or tranexamic acid to enhance their versatility and potency.
- AHA/BHA-based serums: These are serums that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and/or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) as their main active ingredients. AHAs and BHAs are organic acids that can exfoliate the skin and remove excess pigment. AHA/BHA-based serums are usually available in concentrations ranging from 5% to 30%, with higher concentrations providing more benefits but also more risks of irritation or sun sensitivity. AHA/BHA-based serums can also contain other ingredients such as antioxidants, hydrators, or soothing agents to enhance their safety and comfort.
Question: How to use discoloration serum correctly and effectively?
Answer: To use discoloration serum correctly and effectively, you should follow these steps:
- Cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser that suits your skin type and does not strip your skin of its natural oils or disrupt its pH balance.
- Tone your face with a hydrating toner that restores your skin’s moisture and prepares it for better absorption of the serum.
- Apply a thin layer of discoloration serum evenly over your face or the affected areas, avoiding the eye and mouth area. You can use your fingertips, a cotton pad, or a dropper to apply the serum. You can also mix the serum with your moisturizer if you prefer.
- Wait for the serum to dry completely before applying any other products on top of it, such as moisturizer, sunscreen, or makeup. You can also gently pat your face with your fingers to help the serum absorb faster.
- Repeat this process once or twice a day, depending on the product instructions and your skin tolerance. You can use discoloration serum in the morning or at night, but make sure to use sunscreen during the day to protect your skin from further sun damage and pigmentation.
Question: Can I use discoloration serum if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
Answer: It’s generally not recommended to use discoloration serums containing hydroquinone or high-strength lightening ingredients during pregnancy or breastfeeding without consulting a dermatologist first. Milder OTC options containing vitamins C and B3 are likely safe to use, but play it safe by checking with your doctor. The best approach during this time is often prevention of further dark spots using sun protection.
Question: How can I maximize the effects of my discoloration serum?
Answer: To maximize results, be consistent in applying your serum daily, use the full recommended amount, apply only to clean skin, wear SPF during the day, exfoliate 1-2 times/week, avoid picking or irritation, consider adding a prescription-strength option like hydroquinone under dermatologist supervision, and be patient as fading takes regular use over several weeks. A consistent routine will yield the best outcomes.
Question: Can a discoloration serum be used during the day?
Answer: Some discoloration serums are formulated for daytime use and can be used under sunscreen and makeup. However, it’s important to check the specific product instructions as some serums may be recommended for nighttime use only. Additionally, it’s crucial to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF during the day when using a discoloration serum, as the skin may become more sensitive to sun exposure. Sun protection is essential to prevent further pigmentation and protect the skin from harmful UV rays.
Question: Are discoloration serums safe to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding?
Answer: It’s generally recommended to avoid using discoloration serums that contain potentially harmful ingredients, such as hydroquinone, during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Some ingredients that are considered safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding include vitamin C, niacinamide, and botanical extracts like licorice root and bearberry. However, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional or dermatologist before using any skincare products, including discoloration serums, during this time.
Question 7: Can a discoloration serum be used on sensitive skin?
Answer: Yes, a discoloration serum can be used on sensitive skin; however, it’s crucial to choose a product specifically formulated for sensitive skin or perform a patch test before applying it to the entire face. Look for serums that contain soothing ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile extract, or green tea extract. It’s always advisable to consult with a dermatologist or skincare professional to determine the most suitable discoloration serum for your specific skin concerns.
Question: Can a discoloration serum be used in conjunction with other skincare products?
Answer: Yes, a discoloration serum can typically be used in conjunction with other skincare products. However, it’s important to avoid using multiple products with similar active ingredients at the same time, as this can potentially lead to irritation or overexfoliation. It’s recommended to introduce new products gradually into your skincare routine and pay attention to how your skin responds. If you experience any adverse reactions or sensitivities, it’s best to discontinue use and consult with a dermatologist.
Question: How often should a discoloration serum be applied?
Answer: The frequency of application for a discoloration serum can vary depending on the specific product and its instructions. In general, most serums are recommended to be used once or twice daily. However, it’s important to follow the guidelines provided by the manufacturer or consult with a dermatologist for personalized advice. Overuse of a discoloration serum can potentially lead to skin irritation, so it’s crucial to find the right balance for your skin.
Question: Can a discoloration serum be used on the body?
Answer: While discoloration serums are commonly used on the face, they can also be used on other areas of the body with skin discoloration, such as the neck, chest, hands, and arms. However, it’s important to consider the size of the area and the amount of product needed for coverage. Some individuals may find it more cost-effective to use alternative skincare products, such as body lotions or creams, specifically formulated to target body discoloration.
Question: Can I use a discoloration serum on my face and body?
Answer: Yes, you can use a discoloration serum on your face and body. However, be sure to choose a serum that is specifically formulated for the area you are using it on.
Question: How can I prevent my dark spots from coming back after fading them?
Answer: Daily SPF use is critical for preventing further sun damage that can cause discoloration to reappear. Consistent use of a discoloration serum can help maintain results. Using brightening products like vitamin C and niacinamide can also help control melanin production. Professional chemical peels can be considered for longer term reduction of melanin.
Question: Are there any other ways to reduce the appearance of dark spots?
Answer: In addition to using a discoloration serum, there are a number of other things you can do to reduce the appearance of dark spots, including:
- Exfoliating your skin regularly to remove dead skin cells
- Using a sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays
- Eating a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Getting enough sleep
Question: What if I have a dark spot that doesn’t seem to be going away?
Answer: If you have a dark spot that doesn’t seem to be going away, it is important to see a doctor. Dark spots can sometimes be a sign of a more serious medical condition, such as skin cancer.
Question: How much does a discoloration serum cost?
Answer: The cost of a discoloration serum will vary depending on the brand and the size of the bottle. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $100 for a bottle of discoloration serum.
Question: Where can I buy a discoloration serum?
Answer: Discoloration serums are available at most drugstores, department stores, and online retailers.
Question: How to store and maintain discoloration serum properly?
Answer: To store and maintain discoloration serum properly, you should follow these tips:
- Keep the discoloration serum in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight, heat, or moisture. This will prevent the degradation or oxidation of the active ingredients and preserve their potency and stability.
- Close the cap or lid of the discoloration serum tightly after each use to prevent air exposure or contamination. This will also prevent the evaporation or leakage of the product.
- Use the discoloration serum within its shelf life or expiration date indicated on the package. This will ensure the safety and effectiveness of the product. If you notice any changes in the color, smell, texture, or performance of the product, discard it immediately and do not use it on your skin.
- Follow the hygiene and sanitation guidelines when using the discoloration serum. Do not share the product with others or use it on broken or infected skin. Wash your hands before and after using the product and avoid touching the applicator or nozzle with your fingers.