When reading about skincare, the topic of dark spots and acne scars might be one of the largest issues that are mentioned, studied, and talked about. Acne scars, hyperpigmentation and other conditions representing the remnants of past (or ongoing) struggles can be a headache to treat, especially for the most impatient ones.

As a skincare user, I struggle with acne scars on the sides of my face and finding THE ingredient that would rid me of any dark spot became the ultimate quest, and this is what I found: here are the 5 ingredients ruling the world of dark spots right now.


A skincare enthusiast-favorite and treasure of mine, Niacinamide is used by many skincare brands as a brightening agent in moisturizers and serums. This water-soluble form of Vitamin B3 can be applied morning and night, provided the rest of the routine is adapted (beware of other exfoliating acids).

Niacinamide is known to help reduce water loss and signs of ageing in the skin, as well as fading hyperpigmentation spots. One thing that I highly appreciate as a user is its ability to sink into the skin and go to work while you go on about your day.

For sensitive skins, however, lower concentrations are recommended to avoid potential irritation. In my personal case, a 10% concentration takes up to a few days to agree with my skin, although the light tingles present beforehand do not bother me. The bottom line is to know and understand your skin type before applying Niacinamide.

Here is where you can find some of the most popular Niacinamide products:
CeraVe Facial Moisturising Lotion PAULA'S CHOICE Clinical 20% Niacinamide Treatment
Glossier Super Pure niacinamide + zinc serum The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Tranexamic acid

Deemed the “biggest up-and-coming acid” and “new it-acid” by the top skincare publications, Tranexamic is derived from the amino acid Lysine. Known to reduce discoloration by inhibiting UV-induced melanin over-production, it is incorporated into skincare formulas to act as a brightening agent along with other ingredients.

Contrary to other ingredients, Tranexamic acid pairs surprisingly well with Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Kojic acid and Phytic acid and boosts their effects. It also shows a high tolerability for sensitive skin, compared to other brightening ingredients. This is because it sports anti-inflammatory abilities while reducing pigment production.

Because of its relatively new usage, only a handful of brands have been incorporating it in their products.

Here is where you can find the most popular formulas:

Good Molecules Discoloration Correcting Serum The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment
Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense

Vitamin C

When it comes to glowing skin, Vitamin C could easily be called the “Holy Grail” of skincare, and for good reason. Famous for reviving dull skin, fading the look of fine lines and wrinkles by boosting collagen production, and reducing hyperpigmentation in the long run, it was one of the top searched subjects on the Internet last year.

With this impressive pedigree, Vitamin C has been included in countless skin brightening formulas, from cleansers to serums and moisturizers. Depending on your personal routine, you can decide of the best way to enjoy its benefits. That being said, dermatologists and skincare professionals swear by it in serum form, as it sinks into the skin and has time to work its magic under the protective skincare layers you apply after it and throughout the day.

Here are some of our favorites:

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic PURITO Pure Vitamin C Serum
Maelove GLOW MAKER Murad Vita-C Triple Exfoliating Facial/td>


It is no surprise; Retinol is one of the kings of skincare. For a long time, it has been helping us clear breakouts and keeping skin bouncy by boosting our production of collagen and hyaluronic acid. Preventing acne-prone skin from suffering new breakouts, it speeds up cell regeneration deep into the skin layer, treating dark spots at their core.

While mixing active ingredients can be tricky as they can either inhibit each other or provoke side effects, Retinol and Niacinamide have the ability to enhance each other in skincare products.

Here are the top products incorporating Retinol in optimal formulas:

La Roche-Posay Pure Retinol Face Serum Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Serum
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum

Alpha Arbutin

A little less popular, but nonetheless efficient, Alpha Arbutin is one of the most powerful brightening ingredients in skincare. Found in bearberry, cranberry, and blueberry plants, it is a natural antioxidant that inhibits melanin overproduction. Incorporated in skincare formulas, it helps prevent melasma and post-inflammatory scars.

Alpha Arbutin brings results comparable to those of Hydroquinone but has been shown to be much safer as it does not start a bleaching process. It reduces the enzymes that boost melanin production and inhibits UV-induced hyperpigmentation. Gentler than retinol, those with sensitive skin can benefit from giving it a try in their skincare routine.

Here are our picks for Alpha Arbutin products on the market!

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Naturium Alpha Arbutin Serum 2%
Minimalist Alpha Arbutin 2% + Hyaluronic Acid 1%

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