8 min read

What causes uneven skin tone?

Sometimes, a smooth, clear, and even skin tone seems like a dream in a world filled with so much that contributes to dark spots, redness, acne scarring, fine lines, or sun damage.

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Sometimes a smooth, clear, and even skin tone seems like a dream in a world where dark spots, redness, acne scarring, fine lines, or sun damage are so common. Our skin care routines and lifestyles require protection, as we're pummeled with free radical damage every day.


In this article, we’ll explore the following:

  • what is uneven skin tone?

  • what is the reason for uneven skin tone?

  • hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone

  • how do you get rid of uneven skin tone?

  • the best products for uneven skin tone

what is uneven skin tone?

Uneven skin tone can be an umbrella word for multiple types of skin discoloration otherwise known as dark spots, melasma, sun spots or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It can also refer to uneven skin texture like dry patches, built-up dead skin cells, fine lines, or ‘blotchiness.’ Both uneven tone and skin texture can be signs of a reflection of skin health or damage caused by several factors, including UV rays, pollution, or even medication you take.


what is the reason for uneven skin tone?

There are many reasons behind different forms of uneven skin tone. Here are some of the major players:


Sun Exposure: When your skin is repeatedly exposed to UV rays, sun damage occurs. Brown or dark spots (known as sunspots) and uneven skin tone develop as a result of excessive melanin production to help protect your skin from UV rays.


Pollution: Particles and gasses from traffic-related air pollution can penetrate the skin and lead to dark spots, particularly on the face.


Hormones: Melasma is hormone-related hyperpigmentation and increased melanin production caused by increased hormone stimulation. It’s most commonly experienced by pregnant women (which is why it’s also known as a “pregnancy mask”) or taking contraceptives but can also be a reaction to skincare, make-up, or medications.


Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation: This is a darkening of the skin due to scarring, which can be caused by acne lesions or skin injury.


hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone

Sometimes sun damage before the age of 18 years old can become hyperpigmentation. Dark spots on the face have been developing underneath the skin before making it to the visible surface and might be the tip of the iceberg, with numerous cells “brewing” and forming deep within the skin. Preventative measures to improve skin pigmentation are as essential as skin resurfacing methods or products that enhance cell turnover.


how do you get rid of uneven skin tone?

You don’t have to spend a fortune on laser treatments and prescriptions. Here are ways to safely and non-invasively brighten skin for a more even skin tone:


Wear Sunscreen Every Day: Unprotected sun exposure is the number one culprit behind sun damage, causing hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. Applying sunscreen or moisturizer with a broad spectrum SPF of at least 30 is the easiest way to help prevent new sunspots. Tip: Look for Oleosome technology, which increases SPF performance.


Exfoliate: Treat existing hyperpigmentation by first sloughing off dulling or dead skin cells at the surface. This clears the path for the ingredients in your serums and moisturizers to better penetrate the skin. Tip: Look for a gentle, micro-fine exfoliant you can use daily or invest in professional chemical peels.


Use The Right Ingredients: Seek out products that contain Activated Charcoal to help remove pollutants; Oligopeptides, Niacinamide and Zinc Glycinate to help control melanin production; and Vitamin C, Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, AHAs, and Retinol to accelerate skin cell turnover and restore skin.


Be Patient: There’s no quick fix for an uneven skin tone. Traditionally, it takes at least 30 days of vigilant skin care and treatments before you see any progress. Successful, 75 percent skin brightening can take up to four months, so don’t give up!


Kickstart Your Battle Against Brown Spots: Talk to a Dermalogica Professional Skin Therapist for a complimentary Face Mapping® skin analysis. They will hone in on what’s causing your dark spots and recommend an action plan. Tying a professional series of treatments, such as chemical peels, may even help expedite results.


the best products for uneven skin tone

The following products are effective for most every skin type experiencing uneven skin. Use one or all in your day and nighttime skincare routines.



daily glycolic cleanser


Brightening and conditioning cleanser uses glycolic acid to renew dull, uneven skin tone, helps remove buildup caused by environmental factors, and works to improve skin clarity.  



Exfoliation is crucial for dismantling and fading pigmented cell structures. Using daily microfoliants, or gentle chemical exfoliants like Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, or AHAs, in tandem with skin-lightening Vitamin C ingredients, can accelerate the fading of dark spots and hyperpigmentation. 


daily microfoliant


 Achieve brighter, smoother skin every day with this iconic exfoliating powder made with Salicylic Acid and Rice Enzymes to polish skin to perfection. It’s gentle enough for daily use.


powerbright dark spot peel



Our at-home peel gently exfoliates to help visibly lift surface hyperpigmentation – including UV-induced dark spots, post-blemish marks, and melasma for a wide range of skin tones.


Targeted Treatments


powerbright dark spot serum


Start fading the appearance of dark spots and improving the look of skin health within days. This advanced serum begins to diminish the appearance of uneven pigmentation fast and keeps working to even skin tone over time..


Daytime Moisturizer 

powerbright moisturizer spf50


This daily SPF moisturizer helps shield against dark spots, combates oxidative stress and balance skin tone. Formulated with Niacinamide to help reduce the appearance of uneven pigmentation and balance skin tone. Hyaluronic Acid works with a plant-based polysaccharide to help strengthen skin's moisture barrier and reduce the appearance of fine lines.


dynamic skin recovery spf50


This 3-in-1 daily moisturizer visibly firms, hydrates skin and protects with broad spectrum SP F50. It helps combat the appearance of skin aging with Broad Spectrum to help improve the appearance of photoaged skin.


Nighttime Moisturizer 

powerbright overnight cream


Fade dark spots while you sleep with this nourishing nighttime cream that optimizes skin moisture recovery and helps restore luminosity with Niacinamide and Vitamin C to help fade the appearance of dark spots and create a smooth and even skin texture.