Link to share article here:

Ask A Dermatologist: How Can I Even Out My Skin Tone? 

It’s not uncommon to notice some small marks on your skin, especially as the years go by. Whether they’re pink, brown, grey or a purplish shade, almost everyone will have a few small, darker spots on their faces. 

Although there’s nothing wrong with these marks – they’re completely normal, and you’ll far more likely notice them on yourself than anyone else is – some people do want to target them and even out their skin tone. So, we sat down with Dr Beibei, dermatologist at Skin + Me, to talk about skin tone and texture, and chat about the best active ingredients to fade dark spots and illuminate the skin.

Why is my skin tone uneven?

“Skin tone can look uneven due to the presence of brown, pink or red areas on the skin,” explains Dr Beibei. “Brown marks are due to hyperpigmentation, which can arise due to many different reasons, but sun exposure is either a cause or catalyst for its appearance. Pink or red spots can often be due to acne marks and blemishes or skin irritation and sensitivity.”

Hyperpigmentation might take the form of irregular dark spots or areas, such as sun spots or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This is when dark brown or grey spots occur due to an increase in melanin production, caused by either sun damage or inflammation. Or, you might notice symmetrical flat patches, especially across the cheeks – this could be melasma, and is often linked to hormonal changes, which is why it’s often associated with contraception and pregnancy

Pink or red areas might be acne scars or post-inflammatory erythema, marks left over by irritation to a particular area of unhappy skin.

Can I even out my skin tone?

So, we know that there are several reasons why your skin tone might look uneven – but is there anything you can do to make it look more uniform? Well, as Dr Beibei says, treatment “depends on what the underlying cause of the uneven skin tone is” – but there are several things you can do to fade away dark marks on your skin and even safeguard against future damage. 

A derm-approved skincare routine is one of the best ways you can smooth out your skin texture. “A healthy skin barrier which is less reactive is also less likely to have pink or red spots, so supporting the barrier with good skincare is key,” explains Dr Beibei. Look out for moisturisers with ceramides and humectants like allantoin and betaine to nourish the skin barrier and keep your skin happy. 

You probably also know that we’re big advocates of sunscreen here at Skin + Me HQ, and Dr Beibei says that “SPF is the cornerstone of pigmentation prevention. Additionally, protection from high-energy visible light is important; tinted products containing iron oxide pigments, which include foundations, tinted moisturisers and tinted sunscreens, are able to do this.” Wear a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every single day, like Daily Defence SPF 50 Oil-free Sunscreen to prevent future damage and stop existing dark patches getting darker. 

Certain cosmetic treatments can also help to even out your skin tone when done by a professional. Laser treatments work by stimulating cell rejuvenation and collagen production to reveal renewed skin without dark spots. Chemical peels remove the top layer of skin, which may be damaged, leaving behind newer skin which is smoother in texture and appearance. It’s important to remember that results from both of these processes can vary, and you should always go to a certified professional for aesthetic treatments to treat unwanted pigmentation. 

Active ingredients to even out your skin tone

So, you’re using your sunscreen and you’re protecting your skin barrier with a good moisturiser – but which active ingredients should you be looking out for if your priority is smoothing out your skin tone?

Vitamin C 

Vitamin C is one of the ingredients most-associated with treating dark spots – that’s why it’s the powerhouse behind our Brighten + Boost Regulating Vitamin C Serum. Vitamin C works by reducing the synthesis of melanin, the pigment responsible for colour in our skin, fading dark spots and areas of unwanted pigmentation. It’s also full of antioxidants, protecting your skin against the damaging effects of pollution, making it a great addition to your morning routine. 


Peptides are generating quite the buzz in skincare circles at the moment, thanks to their versatility and ability to zero in on specific skin concerns. Certain peptides (like acetyl hexapeptide-1, which is a key ingredient in our Brighten + Boost Regulating Serum) are able to help fade dark spots and areas of unwanted pigmentation, so look out for them if your goal is a brighter, more illuminated complexion. 

Tretinoin and retinol

Retinoids such as tretinoin and retinol boost skin cell turnover, which reveals new skin and helps to fade the appearance of pigmentation. They also inhibit tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in the production of melanin, preventing the appearance of more dark spots. 

Tretinoin is the most efficacious retinoid out there, as it works directly on the retinoic acid receptors, while retinol needs to be processed first. However, tretinoin is not available over the counter, so you can only use it if a medical professional prescribes it to you – products containing retinol don’t require a prescription. 


For cases of hyperpigmentation or melasma diagnosed by a medical professional, some experts may recommend a prescription-only ingredient called hydroquinone. Hydroquinone works by inhibiting the production of melanin, which helps to fade dark spots and regulate your skin tone. It’s a powerful treatment that’s not available over-the-counter, so you should only use it if it’s been prescribed by a medical professional. 

Azelaic acid 

Azelaic acid is an antioxidant and excellent multitasker, which helps target redness and spots along with unwanted pigmentation. Its effectiveness in treating dark spots comes from its ability to slow down production of melanin, and dermatologists sometimes use azelaic acid in combination with tretinoin and hydroquinone as a “triple therapy” when treating hyperpigmentation

Final thoughts

It’s important to remember that nobody has a perfectly even skin tone, so it’s never a good idea to focus on perfection. Instead, try creating a supportive skincare routine that will work to fade dark spots and uneven texture while supporting your skin barrier. Healthy, happy skin with a natural glow – now that’s something we can all get on board with.

New to Skin + Me? Get your first month of personalised skincare for £4.99 with promo code DOSE – complete our quick consultation here.

Looking for a routine refresh? Add the Dream Routine to your Skin + Me subscription.

In need of a restock? Head to The Skincare Shop for one-off purchases of your Routine Essentials.