We may wish for perfectly smooth, even skin, but many of us have uneven skin tones. This may take the form of redness, acne scars, age spots, or sun damage, which can cause blemishes or patches of color on the skin. Uneven skin can be temporary or permanent, and may result from:
- sun exposure
Fortunately, no matter what the cause of your uneven skin, there are plenty of remedies to help you smooth out your complexion.
There are a number of different lifestyle changes you can make to improve the appearance of your skin.
Keeping your skin — and your body — hydrated will do wonders for your skin. Drinking water hydrates your body from the inside out. Applying moisturizer helps soothe skin, resolving dryness and redness. Choose noncomedogenic moisturizers like CeraVe to prevent skin irritation and clogged pores.
Don’t forget to moisturize all of your skin, and not just your face. Using moisturizer on your hands can help prevent and soothe age spots over time. Check out these 10 great moisturizers for dry skin.
Use sunscreen regularly to prevent sun damage to your skin. Not only will this prevent immediate redness and peeling from sunburns, it will also prevent the formation of age spots. Wear sunscreen every time you’ll be in the sun and choose a facial moisturizer that has SPF for daily use. Not sure what SPF you should use? This guide can help.
Avoid certain foods and drinks
Certain foods can trigger flushed, uneven complexions. Some, like sugary snacks, may even speed up development of wrinkles and age spots. Avoiding them can help to preserve that even skin tone you’re looking for. Foods to avoid include:
- alcohol, which can cause the blood vessels to dilate and lead to a flushed face
- spicy foods, which can increase redness
- foods high in refined sugars, which can cause wrinkles
- nonorganic dairy that may contain growth hormones
- processed foods like chips
- greasy foods
There are plenty of different natural remedies that you can use at home to even out skin tone. Many high-end beauty products contain these as active ingredients.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and can protect against free radical damage that can cause tissue damage, resulting in uneven skin tone. You can take supplements, or find vitamin C in foods like:
- bell peppers
Niacin is a nutrient that’s essential for skin, hair, and nail health. It can help restore uneven skin tone, reduce wrinkles, and brighten your complexion. It does this by helping to improve skin hydration. Niacin can be found in foods like:
- green peas
Lemon juice can be an effective spot remover and skin lightener. Apply freshly-squeezed lemon juice to the affected area at least twice a day until you see the results you’re looking for.
Witch hazel is soothing, with anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce irritation and redness. You can apply witch hazel topically directly to the skin, or find it in products like lotions, toners, or soaps.
Rosehip oil can help reduce discoloration from age spots or scarring, and actively prevent wrinkles. It’s thought that the antioxidants it contains fight free radical damage and simultaneously boost collagen production. You can apply rosehip oil directly to the skin for maximum benefits.
Nigella sativa oil — also known as blackseed oil — can help treat skin infections thanks to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help even out the skin tone and make your skin softer and more supple. One study even suggested that it was effective at decreasing vitiligo, with no serious side effects.
Kojic acid is found in many over-the-counter products thanks to its powerful antioxidant properties. It’s been found to be safe at a concentration of 2 percent in cosmetic products. It’s often used as a skin lightening treatment.
There are several different options for chemical peels. You can purchase some products directly from the manufacturer to use at home. These may include peels that contain low doses of glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Both can be done at home and in-office.
You should avoid these peels if you have sensitive skin or are currently using any type of acne product. This includes both topical products like retinol and oral medications like Accutane. Here are more tips for doing a chemical peel at home.
Glycolic acid can help treat acne, scars, sun spots, age spots, and wrinkles. It works by penetrating the top layers of the skin with a chemical solution and causes it to exfoliate, revealing healthier new skin underneath.
Salicylic acid is an ingredient found in many over-the-counter acne treatments. Slightly more mild than glycolic acid, it also exfoliates the outer layer of the skin to remove damaged skin cells. It can help treat:
There are some treatment options that will only be available through a prescription from your healthcare provider. These can be more expensive, but can help treat stubborn problems that home remedies aren’t working on.
4 percent hydroquinone
This is a cream that should be applied to the affected area twice a day, or as your healthcare provider directs. It’s a skin bleaching cream that can help lighten dark spots on the skin, evening out the skin tone.
This cream may cause skin irritation or contact dermatitis. If you’re experiencing pain, redness, or sustained dryness, talk to your skin care professional about other treatment options.
Laser treatments are being used to help improve skin tones, with the ability to lighten scars or age and sun spots. Yellow lasers, for example, are used to flatten scars and reduce redness in them.
Sometimes, laser treatments may cause hyperpigmentation, or a change in skin color. Because of this, you may want to try other treatment options first.
Clinical strength peels
Clinical strength peels come in three levels: light, medium, and deep. They work by penetrating your skin with a chemical solution, causing the skin to exfoliate and peel before revealing new and beautiful skin.
Light peels use more gentle acids, like salicylic acids, and can be done quickly. Medium peels may require sedatives or pain relievers, and deep peels require sedation as they use phenol.
The recovery time for deep peels can last up to two weeks, though you may have redness for several months. A light peel has a short recovery time of just several days.
Microdermabrasion can treat a number of skin conditions, including light scarring, sun damage, and discoloration. It works by helping to thicken the collagen in your skin while removing the thicker, damaged outer layer, creating a more youthful appearance.
There’s almost no down time for microdermabrasion. You may experience some redness, dryness, or peeling for several days following the procedure.
If you need an immediate solution for uneven skin tone, there are plenty of great makeup options. These include:
- Foundations, which offer thick coverage that’s meant to be used on the whole face to even out skin tone.
- Tinted moisturizers, which come in skin-toned tints and green tints. Green tints are ideal for those dealing with minor redness. These don’t offer the full coverage of foundation, but can help with minor unevenness.
- Concealers, which are designed to cover blemishes or skin discolorations.
If you want to even out your skin tone, there are a number of great remedies you can try at home, including lifestyle changes and natural ingredients.
In some cases, you’ll need to see a healthcare provider or skin care specialist. If you’re experiencing any blemishes or unevenness that may be caused by an underlying condition, make an appointment right away. These conditions include:
- moles or blemishes that could be skin cancer
- severe acne that isn’t responding to home treatment
If home remedies haven’t been working for you after one month and you want to see more results, make an appointment with your healthcare provider or skin care specialist — they’ll likely be able to help.
We pick these items based on the quality of the products, and list the pros and cons of each to help you determine which will work best for you. We partner with some of the companies that sell these products, which means Healthline may receive a portion of the revenues when you buy something using the links above.