Getting rid of hyperpigmentation — unwanted pigment left behind from sun exposure, acne scars, and aging — takes work. While IPL laser treatments, micro-needling, and microdermabrasion are all effective in-office options for treating stubborn areas, upgrading your at-home regimen with complexion-correcting active ingredients is key. Since hydroquinone, a former industry-favorite for skin-lightening, has come under recent scrutiny, we are on the hunt for effective alternatives. Craig Kraffert, M.D., of Redding Derm explains, “Hydroquinone [has] fallen out of favor due to questionable safety and occasionally harsh side effects like redness, burning, or blisters.” Yikes! Four experts in cosmetic dermatology — David Shafer, M.D., FACS of Shafer Plastic Surgery in NYC, Lily Talakoub, MD, FAAD of McLean Skin & Dermatology, Sejal Shah, MD, FAAD of Smarter Skin Dermatology, and Kraffert — have scouted the best hydroquinone-free skin tone-correcting ingredients to use instead. Prepare to get schooled on how to treat, fade, and correct all forms of hyperpigmentation (think acne scars, sun spots, and more) with the picks below.

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