13 of the Best Products for Dark Spots & Acne Scars

Among the dozens of products I've tested over the past few years, here's what worked.

By Emily Spain Sep 29, 2021 12:00 PMTags
EComm, Dark Spots & Scar Solutions GuideE! Illustration

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Who else is doing damage control for their skin after spending too much time outside this summer? I know I must not be the only one.

Whether your sunscreen routine faltered or you dealt with borderline painful breakouts all summer long, you're probably in the market for some products that will help even out and brighten skin tone. While we should all embrace zits, scars and dark spots because that's what makes us human, it can be easier said than done. Trust me when I say, my skin and I have been at odds with one another since One Direction formed. Acne scars and dark spots are familiar friends at this point. 

It wasn't until we all were forced into lockdown in 2020 that I started to listen to what my skin needed. With more time at home, I ditched makeup and focused on healing my skin from the inside out. Besides keeping breakouts at bay, one of the areas I wanted to focus on was fading stubborn acne scars and dark spots that would not go away. Thanks to TikTok, I found some pretty amazing and encouraging skincare gurus that recommended products like Peach & Lily's Glass Skin Refining Serum and Versed's Weekend Glow Daily Brightening Solution in addition to educating me on which ingredients would help me get filter-free skin.

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Almost a year and a half later, after lots of testing, hoping and praying, I'm happy to report I've found over a dozen products that actually help fade dark spots and acne scars. No lasers, costly treatments or supplements involved.

Rest assured these are products I didn't just try for a few days, but this round-up features the skincare products I tested individually for several weeks and months to truly see if they made a difference. It is also important for me to note that while these products may have helped me, I suggest doing your own research and finding which products will work best with your skin type!

While none of them can make stubborn scars disappear overnight, they do produce results as long as you have "patience, patience, patience" as the wise Stormi Webster once sang. Below, my favorite tried and true products from brands like Glow Recipe, SkinCeuticals, Banish, Peach & Lily that will help you feel confident enough to ditch the filter and layers of foundation and concealer.

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Vitamin C Beauty Elixir - Facial Mist

We are obsessed with Banish's entire line of acne-fighting products, but their Vitamin C Beauty Elixir Facial Mist is a must for tackling stubborn scars. It's packed with antioxidants, organic bilberry extract, tea tree oil and aloe vera to aide in collagen production, reducing the look of dark spots and preventing future breakouts. Plus, we just love a mist!

Glow Recipe Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Treatment Serum

This serum is lightweight but does the heavy-lifting when it comes to evening out skin tone and reducing the appearance of dark spots and acne scars. Thanks to 5 forms of vitamin C, sustainably sourced guava, plus tranexamic and ferulic acids, you can say hello to glowing skin sooner rather than later. It's been our go-to lately!

SkinCeuticals Advanced Scar Control

SkinCeuticals' new Advanced Scar Control is one of the most effective products we've ever tried in terms of producing fast yet effective results. This high-concentration silicone scar gel not only gets rid of old scars, but it helps prevent the formation of new scars. It's like the ultimate damage control for those days you just can't not pick that zit that's staring you right in the face. You can also use this gel to treat burns, scrapes and cuts!

COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

Do not sleep on this cult-favorite essence! While the snake mucin had us skeptical at first, we soon fell in love with this transformative essence. With hydrating ingredients like sodium hyaluronate, it's like giving your skin a huge jug of water. Not to mention it also helps brighten and repair skin.

Wishful Yo Detox Face & Body Enzyme Scrub

We reach for this scrub about once a week when our skin is in need of a detox. It's packed with an AHA and BHA blend, charcoal, and pineapple and papaya enzymes to draw out impurities, absorb excess oil and residue from pores. We love how smooth it makes our skin and how it helps even out skin tone.

Topicals Faded Serum for Dark Spots & Discoloration

There is a reason why Topical's Faded Serum sold out almost instantly when it dropped on Sephora's website earlier this year. It works! We bought our first of many tubes about a year ago thanks to an Instagram ad and can definitely say it is worth the hype. In short, it's a vegan gel-like cream packed with ingredients like tranexamic acid, azelaic acid and niacinamide that works to reduces the look of marks, scars, dark patches, discoloration and uneven skin tone. We love how it's lightweight and produces results within a week or two of consistent use.

Sunday Riley C.E.O Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream

Featuring a high-potency, advanced vitamin C, this cream is a godsend for dry, dull skin, especially during the winter. It feels thick and heavy at first, but it melts right into the skin when you apply, leaving your face glowing.

Glass Skin Refining Serum

TikTok turned us on to this magic in a bottle serum over a year ago and we have been using it ever since. The combination of peptide and hyaluronic acid complexes, plus East Asian mountain yam extract, peach extract and niacinamide will help calm and brighten skin in addition to keeping it hydrated AF all day long. We highly recommend picking up the jumbo size because we can almost never find it stocked in stores. 

Drunk Elephant C-Firma™ Fresh Day Serum

We've never tried a vitamin C serum quite like Drunk Elephant's latest innovation. First of all, you mix the formula, so it's fresh AF and even more effective. We feel like a chemist every time we do our morning skincare routine! Second, it offers a potent antioxidant complex of l-ascorbic and ferulic acids, plus vitamin E to firm and brighten skin while minimizing the appearance of pores.

Blue Tansy Invisible Pores Resurfacing Clarity Mask

In addition to helping decongest pores and calming irritation, this mask also aides in giving dull skin a second life. With every use, we instantly notice a positive difference in our overall skin texture and complexion.

Versed Weekend Glow Daily Brightening Solution

TikTok influenced us to try this toner from Versed and it does not disappoint. Featuring a powerful yet gentle four-acid complex of lactic, glycolic, azelaic and kojic acid, a few swipes of this toner not only removes leftover dirt and debris that your cleanser didn't get, but it really does give your skin a visibly brighter glow. With consistent use, you won't want to use another toner. Not to mention, you can use it on your underarms and bikini lines. We love a multi-use product! Plus, it's suitable for darker skin tones.

Banisher 2.0

Whether your acne scar is fresh or has been hanging around for a bit, we recommend this nifty stamp-like tool, which aides in the repair process of skin and collagen formation. The 24k Gold plated titanium bristles have antibacterial properties, so you don't have to worry about breakouts spreading like wildfire across your face. 

Peace Out Microneedling Dark Spot Brightening Dots

If you religiously use acne patches to tackle whiteheads and active breakouts, you absolutely must try Peace Out Skincare's Microneedling Dark Spot Brightening Dots if dark spots are a concern of yours. They offer the same convenience and are packed with brightening ingredients like niacinamide, tranexamic acid and ferulic acid to help give hyperpigmentation the boot

Ready for more beauty must-haves? Check out Sephora's $35 Black-owned beauty set that is giving back in a major way.

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