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 it may result from:

  • sun exposure
  • age
  • medications
  • hormones

Fortunately, there are remedies to help you smooth out discoloration and hyperpigmentation in your skin.

There are a number of different behavioral changes you can make to improve the appearance of your skin.

Stay hydrated

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, helping to resolve dryness and redness. Choose noncomedogenic moisturizers to prevent skin irritation and clogged pores.

Don’t forget to moisturize all of your skin — not just your face. Using a broad-spectrum moisturizer, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays, on your hands can help prevent age spots over time.

Use sunscreen

Use sunscreen every day to prevent sun damage to your skin. Not only will this prevent immediate redness and peeling from sunburns, but it’ll also prevent the formation of age spots.

Wear sunscreen every day and reapply it any time you’ll be in the sun, even in winter.

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 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
  • dairy that may trigger various types of skin irritation, including acne
  • overly processed or greasy foods like chips

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

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, use a vitamin C serum, or find vitamin C in foods like:

  • oranges
  • guava
  • bell peppers
  • kiwis
  • strawberries

The best sources for vitamin C tend to be a balanced diet and a vitamin C serum.

Niacin

Niacin is a nutrient that’s essential for skin, hair, and nail health.

It can help:

  • restore uneven skin tone
  • reduce wrinkles
  • brighten your complexion

It does this by helping to improve skin hydration. Niacin can be found in foods like:

  • poultry
  • green peas
  • mushrooms
  • tuna

Niacinamide, a derivative of niacin, has also been shown to offer benefits that promote healthy skin, including helping:

Witch hazel

Witch hazel is soothing, with anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce irritation and redness. You can apply witch hazel topically, directly to the skin, or find it in products such as lotions, toners, or soaps.

Note that witch hazel can be drying or sensitizing for certain people.

Rosehip

Rosehip oil may help reduce discoloration from inflammation. 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

Nigella sativa oil — also known as blackseed oil — may help treat skin infections thanks to its antibacterial and antifungal properties.

It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that have the potential to help even out skin tone.

One 2015 study even suggested that it was effective at decreasing vitiligo with no serious side effects.

Kojic acid

Kojic acid is found in many over-the-counter (OTC) products thanks to its 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 for hyperpigmentation.

Chemical peels

There are several different options for chemical peels. Professional and at-home treatments may contain low doses of glycolic acid and salicylic acid.

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

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 causing it to exfoliate, revealing healthier new skin underneath.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is an ingredient found in many OTC 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:

  • acne
  • scarring
  • discoloration

There are some treatment options that are only available through a prescription from your healthcare provider. These can be more expensive, but they can help treat stubborn problems that home remedies aren’t affecting.

4 percent hydroquinone

Hydroquinone is a cream that can be applied to the affected area twice a day or as your healthcare provider directs. It’s usually used as a skin lightening cream that can help lighten dark spots on the skin, helping to even out the skin tone.

This cream may cause skin irritation or contact dermatitis. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed it safe for use in cosmetic products, but the concentration is limited.

If you’re experiencing pain, redness, or sustained dryness, talk with your skin care professional about other treatment options.

Laser treatment

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 their redness.

Sometimes, laser treatments may cause hyperpigmentation, or a change in skin color. Because of this, you may want to try other treatment options first.

When considering laser treatment, use caution when deciding which healthcare professional to see and always choose a provider who has experience treating pigmentation.

Clinical-strength peels

Clinical-strength peels come in three levels:

  • light
  • medium
  • deep

They work by penetrating your skin with a chemical solution, causing the skin to exfoliate and peel before revealing newer 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, a strong ingredient.

The recovery time for deep peels can last up to 2 weeks, though you may have redness for several months. A light peel has a short recovery time of just several days.

Professional microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion can treat a number of skin conditions, including:

  • light scarring
  • sun damage
  • 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 downtime for microdermabrasion. You may experience some redness, dryness, or peeling for several days following the procedure.

Makeup

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-tone tints and green tints. Green tints are ideal for those dealing with minor redness. These don’t offer the full coverage of foundation, but they 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 remedies you can try at home, including behavioral 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:

If home remedies haven’t been working for you after 1 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.