The 11 Best Skin Lightening Creams for Hyperpigmentation (2022 ✅)

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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!

RELATED ARTICLES:

What Is The Best Skin Lightening Cream for Hyperpigmentation?

Here are the best skin lightening creams for hyperpigmentation:

  1. Meladerm
  2. Meladerm
    • Save
    5.0
    $58.00

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

    Shop Direct Save 20% with 2-Pack

    We earn a commission if you buy through our links.

  3. Obagi Nu-Derm Clear Fx
  4. Obagi Nu-Derm Clear Fx
    • Save
    4.5
    $106.50 ($53.25 / Ounce)

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

    Shop Amazon Save 15% with 2-Pack

    We earn a commission if you buy through our links.

    09/30/2022 04:13 pm GMT
  5. IMAGE Skincare VITAL C Hydrating Repair Crème
  6. IMAGE Skincare VITAL C Hydrating Repair Crème
    • Save
    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.

    Shop Amazon Shop DIrect

    We earn a commission if you buy through our links.

    09/30/2022 04:18 pm GMT
  7. Dermalogica Biolumin-C Gel Moisturizer
  8. Dermalogica Biolumin-C Gel Moisturizer
    • Save
    4.5
    $65.00 ($38.24 / Fl Oz)

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

    Shop Amazon Save 30% with Full Kit

    We earn a commission if you buy through our links.

    09/30/2022 04:44 pm GMT
  9. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Glow Moisturizer
  10. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Glow Moisturizer
    • Save
    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.

    Shop Amazon Shop Direct

    We earn a commission if you buy through our links.

    09/30/2022 06:55 pm GMT
  11. Andalou Naturals Probiotic + C Renewal Cream
  12. Andalou Naturals Probiotic + C Renewal Cream
    • Save
    4.0
    $28.52 $12.59 ($7.41 / Ounce)

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

    Shop Amazon Shop Direct

    We earn a commission if you buy through our links.

    09/30/2022 05:39 pm GMT
  13. Murad Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 | PA+++
  14. Murad Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 | PA+++
    • Save
    4.0

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

    Shop Amazon Shop Direct

    We earn a commission if you buy through our links.

  15. Glytone Enhance Brightening Complex
  16. Glytone Enhance Brightening Complex
    • Save
    4.0
    $78.00

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

    Shop Amazon

    We earn a commission if you buy through our links.

    09/30/2022 05:48 pm GMT
  17. Colorescience Even Up Clinical Pigment Perfector SPF 50
  18. Colorescience Even Up Clinical Pigment Perfector SPF 50
    • Save
    4.5
    $145.00

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

    Shop Amazon Shop Direct

    We earn a commission if you buy through our links.

    09/30/2022 10:03 am GMT
  19. Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15
  20. Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15
    • Save
    4.0
    $16.99 ($4.25 / Fl Oz)

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

    Shop Amazon

    We earn a commission if you buy through our links.

    09/30/2022 04:57 pm GMT
  21. ACURE Brightening Day Cream
  22. ACURE Brightening Day Cream
    • Save
    3.5
    $12.99 $11.89 ($6.99 / Fl Oz)

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

    Shop Amazon Shop Direct

    We earn a commission if you buy through our links.

    09/30/2022 06:15 pm GMT
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
  • Doesn't Work for Everyone
We earn a commission if you buy through our links.
The Original Bestseller

Obagi Nu-Derm Clear Fx

4.5
$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
  • Lightens Skin Discoloration
  • Evens Out Skin Tone
  • Outstanding Reviews
Cons:
  • Expensive (but note it's 2 oz)
  • Not Paraben-Free
We earn a commission if you buy through our links.
09/30/2022 04:13 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 through our links.
09/30/2022 04:18 pm GMT
Professional 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
We earn a commission if you buy through our links.
09/30/2022 04:44 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 through our links.
09/30/2022 06:55 pm GMT
Certified Organic

Andalou Naturals Probiotic + C Renewal Cream

4.0
$28.52 $12.59 ($7.41 / 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 through our links.
09/30/2022 05:39 pm 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 through 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 through our links.
09/30/2022 05:48 pm GMT
Best Makeup Primer

Colorescience Even Up Clinical Pigment Perfector SPF 50

4.5
$145.00

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
We earn a commission if you buy through our links.
09/30/2022 10:03 am GMT
Best Drugstore Pick

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15

4.0
$16.99 ($4.25 / 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 through our links.
09/30/2022 04:57 pm GMT
Best Budget Pick

ACURE Brightening Day Cream

3.5
$12.99 $11.89 ($6.99 / 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 through our links.
09/30/2022 06:15 pm GMT

Best Hydroquinone Cream: Murad Rapid Age Spot & Pigment Lightening Serum

For decades, hydroquinone has been the "gold standard" for treating hyperpigmentation and it remains a popular option at both over-the-counter levels (2.0%) and prescription levels (4.0%).

Hydroquinone is effective at resolving hyperpigmentary skin conditions like melasma, age spots, uneven tone, and sun damage, and has an excellent safety record across multiple decades (sources: Hyperpigmentation Therapy: A Review, 2014 and The Safety of Hydroquinone, 2006).

RELATED:

As I discussed previously (under Meladerm), there's been some controversy over hydroquinone after the FDA published a proposed rule to ban over-the-counter hydroquinone products in 2006 (source: The Federal Register, 2006).

Murad Rapid Age Spot Pigment Lightening Serum Ad
  • Save

However, some dermatologists responded to the FDA with counterarguments on hydroquinone:

  • It has a strong safety record (no documented cases of malignancy across 40-50 years)
  • The data on carcinogenicity (cancer) is inconclusive and based on animal studies only
  • The most adverse side effects like exogenous ochronosis (skin darkening) were linked to unsupervised use of OTC products and/or use of unapproved formulations (in South Africa, hydroquinone products actually used to contain mercury before 1986!)

(sources: The Safety of Hydroquinone: A Dermatologist's Response to the 2006 FDA Federal Register and The Safety of Hydroquinone, 2006)

Long story short, hydroquinone is extremely effective and has been used safely for decades.

But it's important to choose the right hydroquinone product (if you're buying over-the-counter) and use it in accordance with medical guidelines or under a dermatologist's supervision.

My top recommendation here is the Murad Rapid Age Spot & Pigment Lightening Serum.

Murad Rapid Age Spot Pigment Lightening Serum Ad 2
  • Save

This is a 2% hydroquinone product created by dermatologist Dr. Howard Murad that does not require a doctor's prescription (or an expensive appointment).

It also includes Glycolic Acid to help hydroquinone penetrate your skin better and Hexapeptide-2 to improve uneven skin tone and assist in reducing excess pigmentation (source: Murad).

There's also Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Amino Acids, and Aloe Vera in the formula. On the other hand, I don't like that there's Alcohol Denatured (drying and potentially irritating) and Fragrance included.

Finally, customer feedback has been excellent, with ~2,500+ ratings on Ulta Beauty and Sephora. Comments included: fewer dark spots, more even skin tone, and less noticeable acne scars.

However, more critical reviews said this product did not improve their skin or caused a reaction.

My Verdict: Hydroquinone is a powerful treatment for hyperpigmentation (especially for melasma) and should not be feared, but respected, for its ability to fade dark spots and correct uneven tone. My top recommendation is Murad Rapid Age Spot & Pigment Lightening Serum which uses 2% Hydroquinone along with Glycolic Acid and Hexapeptide-2 to help brighten your complexion.

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