The 11 Best Skin Lightening Creams for Hyperpigmentation (2023 ✅)

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Are you looking for the best skin lightening cream for hyperpigmentation?

(TLDR: our top pick is Meladerm)

Our editors have combed through hundreds of skin lightening creams and thousands of customer reviews to bring you the crème de la crème (pun intended).

The global skin whitening industry is big business (projected to reach $12bn by 2026) and ripe with false or misleading claims, especially on social media.

But the worse part is that many skin whitening creams still contain toxic chemicals, with a recent report showing that almost half contained dangerous levels of mercury. Yikes!

That's why we always review the full ingredient list of every product we recommend and run them through ingredient analyzers like Skin Carisma.

We also highlight specific ingredients that may cause issues for certain skin types.

Editor's Note: the terms "skin lightening" and "skin whitening" have significant cultural and historical associations that are beyond the scope for our website. In this article, we focus more on skin lightening products that reduce hyperpigmentation and promote more even tone, rather than products designed to whiten the skin beyond its natural skin tone.

Without further ado, let's get right to our recommendations!

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What Is The Best Skin Lightening Cream for Hyperpigmentation?

Here are our top picks:

  1. Editor's Choice: Meladerm
  2. The Original Bestseller: Obagi Nu-Derm Clear Fx
  3. Best Reviews: IMAGE Skincare VITAL C Hydrating Repair Crème
  4. Best Quality: Dermalogica Biolumin-C Gel Moisturizer
  5. Cult Favorite: Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Glow Moisturizer
  6. Certified Organic: Andalou Naturals Probiotic + C Renewal Cream
  7. Best Day Moisturizer: Murad Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30
  8. Best Night Cream: Glytone Enhance Brightening Complex
  9. Best Makeup Primer: Colorescience Even Up Clinical Pigment Perfector SPF 50
  10. Best Drugstore Pick: Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15
  11. Best Budget Pick: ACURE Brightening Day Cream
Editor's Choice

Meladerm

5.0
$58.00

For best results, Meladerm is a potent skin lightening cream with natural ingredients and no hydroquinone.

Best For: Age Spots, Dark Spots, Melasma, Uneven Skin Tone
Ingredients: Bearberry (Beta Arbutin), Emblica Fruit, Kojic Acid, Lemon, Licorice Root, Niacinamide, Vitamin C Derivative, Mulberry, Alpha Arbutin, Azelaic Acid, Sepiwhite™, SymWhite® 377
Pros:
  • Natural Ingredients
  • No Hydroquinone
  • Brightens & Corrects
  • Bestseller for 20+ Years
  • 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
Cons:
  • Expensive
We earn a commission if you buy via our links.
The Original Bestseller

Obagi Nu-Derm Clear Fx

5.0
$106.50 ($53.25 / Ounce)

Experience the original Obagi formula with no hydroquinone to fight aging, melasma, and uneven skin tone.

Best For: Dark Spots, Hyperpigmentation, Melasma, Sun Spots
Ingredients: Beta Arbutin, Vitamin E, Pure Vitamin C, Lactic Acid
Pros:
  • The Original Obagi Formula
  • No Hydroquinone
  • Reduces Discoloration
  • Evens Skin Tone
  • Outstanding Reviews
Cons:
  • Expensive (but note it's 2 oz)
  • Contains Parabens
We earn a commission if you buy via our links.
01/10/2023 03:15 pm GMT
Best Reviews

IMAGE Skincare VITAL C Hydrating Repair Crème

5.0
$79.00 ($39.50 / Ounce)

Fall in love with the highest rated skin brightening cream from IMAGE Skincare featuring vitamin C and antioxidants.

Best For: Anti-Aging, Uneven Skin Tone
Ingredients: Vitamin C Derivatives, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Ceramides, Hyaluronic Acid, Superoxide Dismutase
Pros:
  • Professional Quality
  • Nourishes & Protects Dry Skin
  • Brightens & Boosts Radiance
  • Suitable for Sensitive Skin
  • Outstanding Reviews
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Light Fragrance
We earn a commission if you buy via our links.
01/11/2023 01:45 am GMT
Best Quality

Dermalogica Biolumin-C Gel Moisturizer

4.5
$65.00 ($38.24 / Fl Oz)

Get glowing with a professional brightening moisturizer from Dermalogica that reduces signs of aging and pigmentation.

Best For: Anti-Aging, Hyperpigmentation
Ingredients: Vitamin C Derivatives, 5 Types of Hyaluronic Acid, Green Tea, Centella Asiatica (Cica), Chamomile, Licorice Root, Bioluminescence Flower, Phytic Acid, Pumpkin Enzymes
Pros:
  • Professional Quality
  • Lightweight Gel Texture
  • Promotes A Healthy Glow
  • Smoothes Fine Lines & Wrinkles
  • Outstanding Reviews
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • May Feel A Bit Sticky
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01/10/2023 09:12 pm GMT
Cult Favorite

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Glow Moisturizer

4.5
$76.00 ($44.71 / Fl Oz)

Re-energize dull skin with a double dose of AHAs and fruit enzymes to brighten, exfoliate, and repair aging skin.

Best For: Age Spots, Fine Lines, Wrinkles
Ingredients: Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Papaya, Pineapple & Pumpkin Enzymes, Napol Cactus Fruit, Hyaluronic Acid
Pros:
  • Exfoliates & Hydrates
  • Evens Out Skin Tone
  • Smoothes Skin Texture
  • Outstanding Reviews
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Not for Sensitive Skin
We earn a commission if you buy via our links.
01/11/2023 04:06 am GMT
Certified Organic

Andalou Naturals Probiotic + C Renewal Cream

4.0
$28.52 $18.99 ($11.17 / Ounce)

Brighten up with a popular cream from Andalou Naturals featuring vitamin C and certified organic extracts.

Best For: Brightness, Hydration
Ingredients: Vitamin C Derivative, Vitamin E, Fruit Stem Cells, BioActive Berry Complex, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Goji Fruit, Probiotics, Calendula Flower, Rosehip Oil, White Tea
Pros:
  • Certified Organic & Fair Trade
  • Loaded with Antioxidants
  • Very Affordable
  • Great Reviews
Cons:
  • Fakes from some Amazon Sellers
  • Doesn't Work for Everyone
We earn a commission if you buy via our links.
01/11/2023 03:11 am GMT
Best Day Moisturizer

Murad Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 | PA+++

4.0

For the perfect daytime moisturizer, Murad has you covered with vitamins, antioxidants, and broad spectrum SPF 30.

Best For: Dark Spots, Sun Protection
Ingredients: Vitamin C Derivatives, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Yeast Amino Acids, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf, 3% Avobenzone, 6.5% Homosalate, 7.5% Octinoxate, 5% Octisalate, 2% Oxybenzone
Pros:
  • Excellent Sun Protection
  • Lightweight Moisturizer
  • Brightens & Smoothes
  • Prevents Oxidative Damage
  • Outstanding Reviews
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Not Fragrance-Free
  • Chemical Sunscreen May Irritate Eyes
We earn a commission if you buy via our links.
Best Night Cream

Glytone Enhance Brightening Complex

4.0
$78.00

Let Glytone exfoliate your dead skin cells with glycolic acid and fade brown spots with powerful 12% azelaic acid.

Best For: Hyperpigmentation, Melasma
Ingredients: 12% Azelaic Acid, 3% Glycolic Acid
Pros:
  • Professional Quality
  • Exfoliates & Brightens
  • Simple Formulation
  • Fragrance-Free
  • Good Reviews
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Some Experienced Shipping Issues from Amazon
We earn a commission if you buy via our links.
01/11/2023 03:27 am GMT
Best Makeup Primer

Colorescience Even Up Clinical Pigment Perfector SPF 50

4.5
$155.00

Simplify your skincare regimen with this 3-in-1 primer from Colorescience that corrects, protects, and brightens.

Best For: Dark Spots, Sun Protection
Ingredients: 11.6% Titanium Dioxide, 8.6% Zinc Oxide, Lumira (Vitamin E, Marine, and Botanical Extracts)
Pros:
  • Excellent Coverage (Can Replace Foundation and Sunscreen)
  • Blurs Brown Spots & Imperfections
  • Corrects Discoloration & Pigmentation
  • Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen
  • Good Reviews
Cons:
  • Very Expensive
  • Tint Color Doesn't Match Everyone
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01/11/2023 04:35 am GMT
Best Drugstore Pick

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15

4.0
$17.59 ($4.40 / Fl Oz)

Never forget sunscreen again with a daily moisturizer from Aveeno that protects, hydrates, and evens skin tone.

Best For: Hydration, Sun Protection
Ingredients: 3% Avobenzone, 7.5% Octinoxate, 2% Octisalate, Soybean Seed, Glycerin, Panthenol
Pros:
  • No Sunscreen Residue
  • Moisturizes & Soothes
  • Very Affordable
  • Great Reviews
Cons:
  • Not Fragrance-Free
  • Thick Texture
We earn a commission if you buy via our links.
01/11/2023 02:01 am GMT
Best Budget Pick

ACURE Brightening Day Cream

3.5
$10.80 $9.99 ($5.88 / Fl Oz)

If you're on a budget, ACURE is an affordable option that doesn't compromise on quality ingredients.

Best For: Brightness, Hydration
Ingredients: Coconut Oil, Cocoa Butter, Aloe Vera, Vitamin E, Centella Asiatica, Blackberry, Acai Berry, Pomegranate
Pros:
  • Natural Ingredients
  • 100% Vegan
  • Very Affordable
  • Good Reviews
Cons:
  • Strong Fragrance
  • Not for Oily Skin
We earn a commission if you buy via our links.
01/11/2023 03:36 am GMT

What Is The Best Hydroquinone Cream?

*2020 UPDATE* We previously recommended a hydroquinone cream, Murad Rapid Age Spot & Pigment Lightening Serum, which was unfortunately discontinued in Sept 2020 after the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced in April 2020 that hydroquinone products may only be prescribed by a doctor.

For more information, see this announcement by Murad on Facebook and this article about the FDA's decision on hydroquinone as part of the 2020 CARES Act.

At the time of writing, there is only one FDA approved hydroquinone cream, Tri-Luma, which is a 4% hydroquinone cream available by prescription for the treatment of melasma.

Fortunately, there are many hydroquinone alternatives on the market such as Meladerm and Obagi which use clinically proven ingredients like beta arbutin, kojic acid, and vitamin C, and are more convenient to purchase (and less expensive) than obtaining a prescription.

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