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Products For Hyperpigmentation & Melasma, What Worked, What Didn’t?


Last week I posted a blog post and video about choosing the right sunscreen for melasma and hyperpigmentation (because some will help protect it from getting darker, and others won’t).

One of my subscribers from YouTube asked if I could talk more about the products and active ingredients I used to fade the melasma that I developed during my pregnancy. She asked specifically if I used vitamin C, lactic acid, glycolic acid, retinols, etc?

Great question!

Over the past year, I’ve used all these active ingredients in one form or another to try and fade the melasma (the only active ingredient I won’t use for hyperpigmentation is hydroquinone. Personally, I don’t feel it’s safe). In the past year, I’ve been able to get rid of 90% of the hyperpigmentation. And I’m happy to say, it’s continuing to fade.

In today’s video I go over all the products I tried and used over the past year in hopes of fading the melasma.

I will tell you right now that some products worked great at fading the pigmentation, but many did nothing. Strangely, there was one natural brightening product that made my pigmentation even darker! (and this isn’t the first time a product has done that to me, more about that in my video below!).

If you have hyperpigmentation or melasma, and struggle to fade it, check out today’s video. As you’ll see in the video, I’ve tried many different products and there’s definitely a pattern of what active ingredients really work at targeting hyperpigmentation and melasma. Not all exfoliants and active ingredients work the same. And even though some products are great at brightening, resurfacing the skin, and evening skin tone – they might not get deep enough to help the hyperpigmentation or melasma.

Review of products I used for hyperpigmentation from Drunk Elephant, Oskia, Tata Harper, Andalou Naturals, VERDURA naturalternatives, The Ordinary.

Products mentioned in the video

Below is the list of all the products I mentioned in the video. All these products are great (for exfoliation, skin brightening, getting smooth skin, or preventing clogged pores and congestion). But, not all these products help hyperpigmentation or melasma. In fact, there’s only a few products out of the bunch that really made any difference. (To find out which ones worked for fading the hyperpigmentation and melasma, make sure to watch today’s video).

  • OSKIA Renaissance Cleansing Gel
  • DRUNK ELEPHANT C-Firma Day Serum
  • DRUNK ELEPHANT T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum
  • TATA HARPER Concentrated Brightening Essence
  • ANDALOU NATURALS Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask
  • OSKIA Renaissance Mask
  • THE ORDINARY 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
  • THE ORDINARY Granactive Retinoid 2% In Squalane
  • UMA Absolute Anti Aging Face Mask

Products for fading hyperpigmentation and melasma

UPDATE: As of 2023, these are my top recommended products that can help fade melasma, hyperpigmentation and dark spots:

  • Leahlani Aqua A Retinoid Renewing Serum – Most retinols and retinoids do nothing for my melasma, but Leahlani retinoid serum has a way of evening out skin tone, fading stubborn sun spots, and reducing the appearance of deep dark patches and pigmentation. This retinoid is also very gentle, and along with evening out skin tone, it makes skin soft and smooth, helps with firmness, clarity and texture. All around great product and suitable for all skin types.
  • Living Libations Frankincense Best Skin Ever and Rose Renewal + Frankincense Firming Fluid. These two products need to be used together to fade dark patches and hyperpigmentation. Use the Frankincense Best Skin Ever as an oil cleanser (apply to dry skin and remove with a damp wash cloth), and follow with using the Rose Renewal + Frankincense Firming Fluid which is a soothing and hydrating serum. The Frankincense Best Skin Ever oil cleanser works to cleanse and brighten skin, while the Rose Renewal Serum works deeply to calm inflammation, even out skin tone, and gives skin a healthy dose of hydration. I recommend these products for anyone dealing with dermal melasma that have tried brightening products and vitamin C with no results. This works deeply in the skin calming the inflammation that can be triggering pigmentation issues. For best results, if you need to use a moisturizer on top, use something plain with no essential oils or fragrance (I recommend Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil, Jao Brand Face Creme Sensitive Skin or Josh Rosebrook Unscented Vital Balm Cream).
  • If stubborn sun spots is your challenge, you can also try Living Libations DewDab, which is a pure essential oil blend formulated to fade hyperpigmentation from the sun, age spots, acne marks, and dark spot pigmentation. This is a spot treatment, so you just apply it on the dark spots, not all over your face. I recommend using it only at night. If you have very sensitive or dry skin, you can use Living Libations DewDab Ozonated Beauty Balm instead, which is diluted with an ozonated oil making it more gentle and nourishing.
  • MARA Sea Vitamin C Serum is a potent vitamin C serum and one of the best vitamin C serums for brightening skin and fading dark spots. This is a great product for surface hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage. The ultra-lightweight serum instantly brightens skin and gives dull complexions a radiant glow.
  • Leahlani Siren Brightening Serum and Bless Beauty Balm is another set of products that work beautifully evening out skin tone and fading dark spots. I have customers using this saying they’ve never seen their skin tone so even. I highly recommend this if you have deep melasma or pigmentation, or your skin is looking patchy. Simply mix 1/2 pump Siren Serum with a small dollop of Bless Beauty Balm and apply to clean skin. This duo is hydrating and nourishing, no moisturizer needed.

More blog posts on hyperpigmentation & melasma

Check out these blog posts and videos, they can help too!

About the Author
Hi, I’m Natasha St. Michael, Founder of Inspire Beauty. I’m also a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Natural Health Educator accredited by the Institute For Integrative Nutrition. I’m obsessed with skin care and self-care. I’m 47 years old, struggled with adult acne until I was 30, and now I’m all about preserving the youthfulness of my skin (and sharing all my tips and tricks). If you have a question about a product or need a recommendation, feel free to contact me anytime.


This blog is for information purposes only. The content is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Should you have a medical or dermatological problem, please consult with your physician. None of the information or recommendations on this website should be interpreted as medical advice.

All product reviews, recommendations, and references are based on the author’s personal experience and impressions using the products. All views and opinions are the author’s own. 

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19 Responses

  1. thanks for all the info!
    After my pregnancies I didnt know you could reduce the pigmentation, but bought some Clinique Turn-around moisturiser on sale one time and over the course of a year, my pigmentation completely disappeared. I think the Clinique formula uses AHAs but I guess you need to stick at it and not expect over night changes.
    Since then I have had successful results removing acne marks using retinoids. but again, slowly over a few months.
    But I do have sensitive skin and if I experiment too much, ie I used lemon juice 1:2 mix with water as a DIY AHA but my skin was so irritated that I developed more hyperpigmentation on my forehead. It has taken weeks to fade this with retinoids and gentle treatments (OCM) and no exfoliants.
    My advice for fading pigmentation is to go slow and gentle. if something gives you over night success then maybe pause for a bit or dilute it with moisturiser as too fast may irritate skin in the long run and when skin is irritated, it hyperpigments more!
    best wishes!

    1. Thank you Susan for sharing your experience, and the warning! I am always scared of the lemon juice remedy – some people it works for, but for many people, it’s a total disaster (hopefully people will read your commend at stay away from it!). And yes, slowly does always win the race. We all want fast results, but sometimes there’s a big price to pay (so thank you for the awesome reminder!).

  2. Thanks for the video. The weather in Indonesia is often hot and humid and as you said, heat worsen the melasma/pigmentation. How do you deal, how do you minimize the impact of heat on the pigmentation (despite wearing sunscreen and hat)?

    1. It’s definitely hard with the heat and strong sun. Most important is avoiding the strong sun as much as possible, find ways of keeping cool (fan, a/c, cold shower), and make sure to reapply sunscreen regularly (every 2-3 hours). Also, diet is important too, so best to avoid anything that can cause inflammations. MSG is commonly used in Indonesian food and it’s not good for hyperpigmentation or one’s health. Also when possible, avoid sugar and keep carbs to a minimum, which includes reducing rice in the diet (which isn’t easy here either!). Hope this helps!!

  3. Thank you so much on the useful information. I experienced melasma for few years, my skin was flawless and i have a fair skin as i am an asian. My melasma on cheeck is getting larger and darker after i tried 4 % hydroquinone, i stopped the medicine and i am using odacite and the ordinary products. i tried to buy Drunk elephant vitamin c but it is not shipped to our country.

    May i know if Odacite ‘ A summer In Hossegor ‘ is work for melasma ?? I am in dillema to try out the products..

    thank you for your professional advice.

    1. Hi Joelyn,
      I haven’t tried that Odacite product, but it’s worth trying. Melasma is one of those things where sometimes you’ve got to try a few things until something works. Recently I’ve been using Living Libations Frankincense Best Skin Ever and Rose Renewal Frankincense Firming Fluid, and my melasma is now all gone (I can’t believe it). If you have access to these products, definitely worth trying.

      Here’s my review of the products: https://www.inspirebeautyshop.com/living-libations-experiment-final-review/

      And if you do get them, I recommend cleansing first with the Frankincense Best Skin Ever (you’ll be doing the oil cleansing method, in this video I show how I cleanse with this product), and right after apply the Rose Renewal Firming Fluid. Do this twice a day. If you need extra moisturization, or you use other serums or products, use them after the Rose Renewal Firming Fluid.

      Hope this helps!

  4. I have tried many products in addition to vampire facials clear and brilliant lasers and wanted thousands of dollars. The only that helped lighten my melasma because it will never go away buy only lighten is the cream TriLuma. You can buy it at a spa or at any dermatologist office. I saw results within one week. I’m checking out your posts and I will try some of your recommendations. Thank you!

  5. Hi Natasha –
    I’ve been using the two living libations products you mentioned, rose renewal serum and frankincense best skin ever, for melasma that developed during pregnancy and continued to worsen after my second. I haven’t seen much a difference yet (have been using it for a couple months now) altho overall skin quality has improved. I noticed on your list of fave products on a different entry, you didn’t include these products but other LL products (soothsayer serum and another one). Have you found other products of theirs to be better in terms of reducing hyperpigmentation?
    I oil cleanse at night and follow the renewal serum, then in the morning I use the ordinary rosehip seed oil and twice a week I use an exfoliating mask. I also use sunscreen regularly and wear a hat often to cover my face. I know you’ve mentioned diet changes being helpful which I will try as well. Anything else you can suggest that has made a difference?
    Thank you!!

    1. Hi Annie,
      Try using the Rose Hip Seed Oil at night, not during the day. It’s quite sensitive to light and I don’t want it potentially doing anything bad to the melasma.
      As for your questions about the other Living Libations products, the Frankincense BSE & the Rose Renewal Firming Fluid are still the 2 best products I’ve used from Living Libations for melasma. The other products I’ve mentioned on other blog posts are great skincare products, but they won’t specifically do anything for melasma.
      I have found keeping my skincare routine very simple and avoiding anything that could potentially irritate my skin to be helping the most.
      Keep going! It’s definitely a journey, and we’re all going through it together 🙂

    2. Thanks Natasha! Are there other oils you recommend to use in the AM for moisturizing instead of rose hip?
      Thanks again!

  6. I have been dealing with my skin issue for close to ten years. I find your article to be very helpful. I am going to start with my diet. I will gingerly try some of the products suggested, and see what works for me.

  7. Hi there! You mentioned Rosehip seed oil. Do you use that as a serum, or as an oil cleanser, or another way? Thank you so much for all of the help and advice you offer on this website. I have a long way to go and healing my Melasma and my adult acne, but I’ve already seen a big difference I learning to be gentler with my skin, to use fewer products, and to make sure those products are the right ones (without bad ingredients).

  8. Has anyone tried progesterone cream yo help balance hormones to help with melasma?? Only thing that has lightened mine is msm, milk thistle and magnesium in a serum I make. If it’s hormone related and estrogen is the cause one would think that progesterone would help…..

  9. Hello Natasha, I just developed dark inner corners of eyes. They look awful. Do you have any recommendation? Pls help me.

  10. Hello Natasha, I just developed dark inner corners of eyes. They look awful. Do you have any recommendation? Pls help me.

    This is the first time, I’m writing to you. It,s not duplicate.

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