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While some are more prone than others, anyone who has spent time outside during the summer months has likely been bit by a mosquito at some point.

The symptoms of the bite alone can be irritating — itchiness, redness, inflammation — but for some, mosquito bites can also leave behind dark spots known as hyperpigmentation.

To help you determine the best product to use to treat hyperpigmentation, we chose the following lightening products based on expert recommendations, key ingredients, and effectiveness according to reviews.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $25
  • $$ = $25–$50
  • $$$ = $50–$80
  • $$$$ = over $80

Best overall

Murad Environmental Shield Rapid Age Spot Correcting Serum

  • Price: $$$
  • Pro: clinically proven to lighten dark spots
  • Con: product packaging misleading — you get less product than you think
  • Skin type: all except sensitive
  • Vegan: yes
  • Fragrance-free: no
  • Key ingredients: niacinamide, vitamin C, oligopeptides

Murad’s serum has long been a favorite remedy for dark spot correction—and for good reason: in clinical testing, 73% of users saw changes in their skin after six weeks of use. (The brand says that some people may even start seeing fading in just one week.)

Formulated without parabens, sulfates or phthalates, this high powered serum evens out skin tone and works as an anti-aging treatment as well. While it’s formulated for all skin types, it may be too harsh on more sensitive skin.

Best budget

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA

  • Price: $
  • Pro: inexpensive yet effective
  • Con: can feel sticky
  • Skin type: all
  • Vegan: yes
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Key ingredients: alpha arbutin, hyaluronic acid

This lightweight serum from The Ordinary is highly rated and low cost, which makes it a valuable product for treating hyperpigmentation in general. Formulated with pure alpha arbutin and hyaluronic acid, this concentrated serum targets dark spots and helps reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Plus, because of the hyaluronic acid, skin is left feeling hydrated and soft.

Reviewers say that a little goes a long way with this powerful serum. Many people who have used this report significant improvements in their hyperpigmentation and noticed fading of dark spots. Some say the results took longer than they hoped — typically around a couple of months — but otherwise, most users are satisfied with the effectiveness of this inexpensive serum.

Best splurge

Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense

  • Price: $$$$
  • Pro: easy to layer with other products
  • Con: pricey
  • Skin type: combination, oily
  • Vegan: no
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Key ingredients: tranexamic acid, kojic acid, niacinamide

Suitable for all skin types, this powerful serum targets visible skin discoloration, whether in the form of dark patches or post-acne scars. Key ingredients include niacinamide, which is one of the most effective ingredients that reduce the appearance of skin discoloration, and acids such as kojic acid and tranexamic acid.

Reviewers say they saw a noticeable difference in their skin’s overall brightness, and the dropper is easy to use. Some reviewers say the serum was effective on their melasma, as well as hyperpigmentation caused by acne scars. However, some say it took a long time — up to a few months — to start noticing any improvements.

Best for clinical results

Paula’s Choice Discoloration Repair Serum

  • Price: $$
  • Pro: pump bottle is easy to use
  • Con: strong formula may irritate sensitive skin
  • Skin type: all except sensitive
  • Vegan: yes
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Key ingredients: tranexamic acid, niacinamide, bakuchiol, vitamin E

Another highly praised treatment for hyperpigmentation, the clinical repair serum from Paula’s Choice is formulated with tranexamic acid, niacinamide, and bakuchiol, which all work together to fade dark spots and minimize discoloration.

According to reviews, many who used this serum saw significant improvements to melasma, post-acne scars, uneven skin tone, and dark spots with consistent use. Reviewers report having brighter skin overall, and also praise the lightweight consistency of this serum.

However, depending on your skin type, this formula could be too strong and lead to irritation. To avoid overuse, it’s recommended to gradually work this into your routine to see how your skin reacts.

Best with SPF

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Dark Spot Sun Defense Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • Pro: comes in recyclable packaging and is reef-safe
  • Con: leaves a white cast
  • Skin type: all
  • Vegan: yes
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Key ingredients: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, melatonin, vitamin C, vitamin E

A versatile product, this sunscreen from Dr. Dennis Gross works to protect skin from damage caused by harmful UVA/UVB rays while also reducing the appearance of dark spots and providing other anti-aging solutions. In addition to SPF 50, this facial sunscreen contains a Mela-C complex — a combination of melatonin and vitamins C and E — that helps to prevent hyperpigmentation and dark spots.

Many reviewers noticed a difference in the appearance of dark spots and the skin’s overall brightness. Reviewers also love the texture and consistency, saying it’s not too thick, not too thin, and doesn’t leave a sticky residue.

However, this sunscreen does leave a white cast that most say doesn’t blend well. With that in mind, this sunscreen may work best for those with lighter skin tones.

Best vegan

Truly Jelly Booster Pigment Treatment

  • Price: $$
  • Pro: easy-to-use dropper
  • Con: has a strong smell
  • Skin type: all
  • Vegan: yes
  • Fragrance-free: no
  • Key ingredients: vitamin B12, pomegranate extract, witch hazel

This vegan pigment treatment is specifically formulated to fade the appearance of hyperpigmentation that’s a result of scars, ingrown hairs, and more. Key ingredients include vitamin B12, which helps reduce skin inflammation — a necessity when treating hyperpigmentation — and antioxidants like pomegranate extract and witch hazel.

With a near-perfect rating average, this serum is loved by many. One reviewer said they were “blown away” by how quickly this serum reduced the appearance of their dark spots. However, some reviews say it smells like baby powder, which may be a turn-off for some people.

On the plus side, reviewers praise the dropper for being long enough to reach the bottom of the bottle, which helps prevent product waste.

Best moisturizer

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Eventone Fade Cream

  • Price: $
  • Pro: budget-friendly
  • Con: can be difficult to blend
  • Skin type: all
  • Vegan: no
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Key ingredients: niacinamide, cocoa butter, vitamin E

Nourishing cocoa butter and niacinamide work together to smooth marks and target dark spots and discoloration in this creamy moisturizer. Palmer’s uses its signature cocoa butter as a core ingredient in each product to help hydrate and smooth skin. Combined with niacinamide and retinol, this moisturizer can help create a more even tone.

According to reviews, this moisturizer does a good job at evening out overall skin tone. Some say that because the moisturizer is on the thick side it can be difficult to rub it in well. But for the most part, many agree that this cream leaves skin feeling nourished and hydrated.

Best mask

Borghese Advanced Fango Delicato Moisturizing Mud Mask

  • Price: $$
  • Pro: combats uneven skin tone, acne, and premature aging
  • Con: not many applications per jar
  • Skin type: all
  • Vegan: no
  • Fragrance-free: no
  • Key ingredients: white honey extract, kaolin clay

If you’re looking for a skin treatment that aids in fading dark spots, as well as provides moisture and anti-aging benefits, look no further than this cult favorite mask from Borghese. Formulated with aloe, which studies show has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, renewal and wound-healing effects, this mask is ideal for helping skin heal, especially for those with dry skin.

While you can leave the mask on for longer, the brand suggests just 2 to 5 minutes once or twice a week to see results. Because of its gentle formula, it’s suitable for all skin types but is best for those needing extra moisture.

Best for darker skin tones

Eadem Milk Marvel Dark Spot Serum

  • Price: $$$
  • Pro: designed specifically for darker skin tones
  • Con: expensive
  • Skin type: all
  • Vegan: yes
  • Fragrance-free: yes
  • Key ingredients: amber algae, niacinamide, encapsulated vitamin C

This milky serum is designed specifically for people of color with what the brand calls its Smart Melanin™ technology, which means that it won’t affect the enzyme that controls melanin production (tyrosinase).

With powerful ingredients like niacinamide and vitamin C to help combat hyperpigmentation, it’s an effective product that reviewers say also leaves their skin feeling silky smooth.

Best toner

Bolden Skin Brightening Toner

  • Price: $
  • Pro: works well for those with darker skin tones who may be more susceptible to hyperpigmentation
  • Con: some reviewers said it irritated their sensitive skin
  • Skin type: all, acne-prone
  • Vegan: yes
  • Fragrance-free: no
  • Key ingredients: AHA glycolic acid, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid

This toner by Bolden is designed to fade dark spots and even skin tone while gently exfoliating. It works best on acne-prone skin but it’s suitable for all skin types, and especially those with darker skin.

Formulated without animal-derived ingredients, parabens, sulfates or phthalates, all Bolden products are manufactured at a United States FDA certified facility.

ProductPriceProConSkin typeVeganFragrance-freeKey ingredients

Murad Environmental Shield Rapid Age Spot Correcting Serum
$$$clinically proven to lighten dark spotsproduct packaging misleading — you get less product than you thinkall except sensitiveyesnoniacinamide, vitamin C, oligopeptides

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA
$inexpensive yet effective can feel sticky allyesyesalpha arbutin, hyaluronic acid
Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense$$$$easy to layer with other products priceycombination, oilynoyestranexamic acid, kojic acid, niacinamide
Paula’s Choice Discoloration Repair Serum$$pump bottle is easy to usestrong formula may cause irritation on sensitive skin all except sensitiveyesyestranexamic acid, niacinamide, bakuchiol, vitamin E
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Dark Spot Sun Defense Sunscreen$$comes in recyclable packaging and is reef-safeleaves a white castallyesyestitanium dioxide, zinc oxide, melatonin, vitamin C, vitamin E
Truly Jelly Booster Pigment Treatment$$easy-to-use dropperhas a strong smell allyesnovitamin B12, pomegranate extract, witch hazel
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Eventone Fade Cream$budget-friendly can be difficult to blendallnoyesniacinamide, cocoa butter, vitamin E
Borghese Advanced Fango Delicato Moisturizing Mud Mask$$combats uneven skin tone as well as other skin concerns like acne and premature agingnot many applications per jarallnonoaloe, chamomile extract, kaolin clay, white honey extract, hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid

Eadem Milk Marvel Dark Spot Serum
$$$designed specifically for darker skin tonesexpensiveallyesyesamber algae, niacinamide, encapsulated vitamin C
Bolden Skin Brightening Toner $works well for those with darker skin tones who may be more susceptible to hyperpigmentationsome reviewers said it irritated their sensitive skinall, acne-proneyesnoAHA glycolic acid, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid

Hyperpigmentation occurs when areas of the skin appear darker than the rest. These dark spots are commonly a result of either melasma, sunspots, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation — the latter of which can happen as a result of bug bites like those from pesky mosquitoes.

“Any inflammation may leave hyperpigmentation,” according to Dr. Ted Lain, Austin-based board-certified dermatologist and chief medical officer at Sanova Dermatology. “However, it is more probable with longer-lasting inflammation.”

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation happens when the initial symptoms of the bug bite start to subside and your skin is left with a dark spot where the bite occurred. To reduce or prevent scarring left behind by bites, it’s important to treat those areas with products that can lighten or fade dark spots.

To treat hyperpigmentation, Lain recommends looking for over-the-counter (OTC) lightening or brightening creams that contain ingredients such as kojic acid, licorice root extract, azelaic acid, tranexamic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, antioxidants, niacinamide, or a combination of these.

These products can be in the form of serums, creams, or moisturizers. Regardless of the type of product that works best for your routine and skin type, the most important thing to look for are a few of the key ingredients Lain recommends, as they’re effective at treating hyperpigmentation.

How long does it take to lighten hyperpigmentation?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, discoloration on the skin will usually fade within 6 to 12 months, but deeper discoloration could take years to lighten. Discoloration may fade sooner if you treat these areas.

Why isn’t my hyperpigmentation fading?

Sun exposure and inflammation can increase the production of melanin and are the two biggest risk factors for continued hyperpigmentation.

Will hyperpigmentation go away completely?

Sometimes hyperpigmentation doesn’t completely go away, depending on various factors, including medications you might take and exposure to the sun.

If you experience hyperpigmentation from mosquito bites, there are several types of skin care products you can use to treat the dark spots and brighten those areas.

When you’re looking for a way to treat dark spots from bug bites, look for brightening creams that target dark spots using a combination of dermatologist-approved ingredients like kojic acid or niacinamide, to name a few.


Sam Lauron is a freelance lifestyle writer based in Austin, TX. When she’s not writing about wellness, creativity, or personal development, she spends her time reading, listening to true crime podcasts, and soaking up the sunny Austin weather with her partner and their dog. Connect with her on Instagram or Twitter, or by visiting her website.