No matter how well you take care of your skin, chances are high you’ll deal with an uneven skin tone at some point in your life. Unevenness, usually due to hyperpigmentation, can be caused by any number of factors, including sun exposure, skin type, and age. Sometimes, an uneven skin tone will resolve itself fairly quickly. But usually, evening the skin takes a bit of elbow grease (so to speak) in the form of skincare treatments and brightening ingredients.
Since uneven skin is such a common concern, we’re compiling some of our best expert-approved tips for evening skin tone. We’ll provide recommendations on the best products to use and what ingredients to look out for if you want brighter, healthier-looking skin. Read on to learn how to get an even skin tone in just seven simple steps.
Step 1: Cleanse With an Exfoliating Face Wash
Cleansing is an essential step in any skincare routine. If you have an uneven skin tone, we recommend using an exfoliating cleanser to wash your face. Exfoliating regularly will help clear dead skin cells while removing the dirt, oil, and other impurities that accumulate on your skin throughout the day. It also encourages cell turnover, which can help improve the appearance of dark spots and other discolorations.
Try Clearly Corrective Brightening & Exfoliating Daily Cleanser, which contains white birch extract, peony extract, and pearlstone. This mild exfoliating face wash cleanses and refines skin without aggravating the skin barrier for a soft, radiant appearance. The brightening formula is suitable for all skin types and gentle enough for daily use. We recommend using it morning and night to cleanse and exfoliate your face for clearer, smoother-looking skin.
Step 2: Balance Skin With a Hydrating Toner
There are countless reasons to use toner: It hydrates the skin, removes any leftover dirt or oil, and helps prepare skin for the rest of your routine. The right formula can provide additional benefits, as well.
Our best-selling Clearly Corrective Brightening & Soothing Treatment Water stars brightening licorice root extract and activated C to refresh dull, tired skin. The powerful formula also contains illuminating minerals, which instantly give skin a soft, subtle glow. When used daily, this effective treatment water visibly evens skin tone to promote a more radiant appearance.
Step 3: Address Discolorations With a Treatment Serum
Dark spots and discolorations are among the most significant obstacles to clear, even skin. They can result from aging, inflammation, and even excessive sun exposure. While many of these marks will fade on their own eventually, some are persistent and need a little help. You can address stubborn spots with brightening skincare treatments, like Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution. This potent serum features activated C and white birch extract, which work in tandem to help improve skin tone and texture. It’s clinically-demonstrated to visibly reduce dark spots and discoloration on all skin types and tones.*
One of the most effective ways to improve skin tone is via professional chemical peels. You can get similar results at home (albeit slower) with a chemical exfoliant, like Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate. This mild at-home peel is clinically demonstrated to accelerate cell turnover for visibly more even skin over time.** Though effective, this unique treatment is gentle enough to be used nightly. Apply it all over your face and neck or just to problem areas to promote smoother, glowing skin.
Kiehl's Expert Tip: You don’t have to stick to only one serum. Some formulas can be combined for an extra boost. In the evening, layer Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution over Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate. These potent serums will work in tandem to refresh and brighten your skin while you sleep.
Step 4: Treat Your Under-Eye Area
The under-eye skin is thinner and more delicate than the rest of your facial skin, making it uniquely susceptible to showing signs of aging. As such, keeping this area hydrated and smooth is essential for a healthy, youthful appearance.
Address under-eye discoloration, including blue and brown dark circles, with Powerful-Strength Dark Circle-Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum. This daily eye treatment contains vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to smooth and hydrate the delicate under-eye area. It’s clinically-demonstrated to decrease the appearance of under-eye wrinkles and dark circles for fresher, brighter-looking eyes. Use your ring finger to pat the lightweight formula along your orbital bone and at the outer corners of your eyes after applying your facial serum. (Try to avoid rubbing the eye serum in, as this can pull on the thin under-eye skin and lead to sagging down the line.)
Step 5: Nourish Skin With a Non-Comedogenic Oil
Post-acne marks, otherwise known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, are a common concern for those who struggle with acne. Even after a blemish heals, a post-acne mark can remain for months, leading to a patchy, uneven skin tone. Incorporating a non-comedogenic oil into your skincare routine can help keep blemishes—and the unevenness they often cause—at bay.
We recommend Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate Face Oil, which contains Cannabis sativa seed oil and green oregano oil. This unique face oil helps calm stressed skin and visibly reduces redness for a more even appearance. With regular use, this treatment helps strengthen the skin barrier for more hydrated, resilient skin.
Kiehl's Expert Tip: Discover more ingredients to fight blemishes and breakouts in our article The Best Ingredients For Treating Pimples.
Step 6: Restore Hydration With a Brightening Moisturizer
Even if your skin tone is uniform, it won’t look its best if it’s dry or dehydrated. That’s one reason (of many) why using a moisturizer daily is vital for smooth, healthy-looking skin. You’ll enjoy the best results if you choose a formula suited to your skin type and specific concerns.
If unevenness is your primary concern, try a brightening moisturizer, like Clearly Corrective Brightening & Smoothing Moisture Treatment. This daily moisturizer stars activated C and glycolic acid to reduce the appearance of skin discolorations, like age spots. The creamy formula provides lasting 24-hour hydration for a smoother, brighter appearance.
To address skin tone and texture simultaneously, reach for Super Multi-Corrective Anti-Aging Face & Neck Cream. This potent wrinkle cream is formulated with hyaluronic acid, phytomimetic vitamin A, and chaga mushroom. These powerful ingredients work together to help correct a wide range of age-related skin concerns, including fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and dullness. It’s clinically-demonstrated to reduce wrinkles and even skin tone within just four weeks. With continued use, your skin will appear brighter, firmer, and more radiant.***
Step 7: Target Persistent Discolorations With an Intensive Treatment
If you’re dealing with persistent discolorations or need to even your skin tone quickly, we recommend Clearly Corrective Accelerated Clarity Renewing Ampoules. This targeted treatment includes 28 single-use ampoules, which are designed to be used morning and night for two weeks. Each ampoule contains a potent serum formulated with three gentle yet effective acids: phytic, lactic, and glycolic. After just two weeks of consistent use, skin appears 33% brighter and visibly more even.**** The 14-day treatment also enhances skin renewal to promote softer skin and a more radiant appearance.
To use it, break open one ampoule and apply its contents to a clean, dry face morning and night. Pat the serum in, allowing it to absorb into your skin, then follow with the aforementioned Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution. You can use this treatment anytime you want to amplify your routine or whenever your skin needs a little extra TLC.
*This product was tested on a multi-ethnic panel equally distributed: 25% African American, 25% Asian, 25% Caucasian, 25% Hispanic. Results based upon a clinical study of the upper layers of the skin.
**Based on an instrumental test within surface layers. Results based upon expert grading in a dermatologist-controlled clinical study.
***Based on agreement in a 12-week consumer-use study with a panel of 53 women. Individual results may vary.
****Based on expert grading in a 2-week clinical study of 85 panelists in Brazil.