Spot Corrector Creams: Everything You Need to Know

08 April, 2021
Spots usually appear on the skin of the face, neck, or hands. In addition to resorting to spot corrector creams, it’s a good idea to wear sunblock year round to fight them.

Has it ever happened to you that the spots on your skin end up ruining that summer outfit that you really wanted to wear? Believe it or not, this is one of the most common cosmetic problems. To fight these terrible spots, you can resort to spot corrector creams.

But how can they help you?

The effects of spot corrector creams depend on the type of spot you’re treating. To get results, you have to be consistent and remember to combine them with sunblock. However, some of them can only be used at night.

These types of creams contain depigmenting agents that slow down the production of melanin and stimulate cell regeneration.

Types of hyperpigmentations or spots

A woman with spots on her skin.

As a Mayo Clinic article explains, sunspots appear when melanin becomes clumped or is produced in high concentrations. Melanin is a natural pigment that gives skin its color. There are two types of hyperpigmentations:

  • Melanic. As we mentioned above, they appear due to increased melanin production. This group includes freckles, melasma, or hyperpigmentation due to inflammation. Spot corrector creams can treat them.
  • Melanocytic. They’re due to a local proliferation of pigment cells (melanocytes). This includes senile lentigos, simple lentigos, and moles. Spot correctors don’t work for them.

The most common spots

The spots that appear most frequently on the skin are:

  • Solar lentigos. They’re sunspots that form flat spots that are bigger than freckles.
  • Freckles. They’re small, irregular brown spots.
  • Chloasma or pregnancy mask. It usually appears on the sides, forehead, the upper part of the lips, and cheeks. It’s also known as chloasma gravidarum or melasma.
  • Berloque dermatitis. According to an article published in Family Medicine, these are spots that appear on the neck due to the use of certain perfumes, especially when they come into contact with ultraviolet rays.
  • Scarring or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation after acne lesions, herpes zoster, or allergic contact dermatitis.

The ingredients spot corrector creams contain

A spot corrector cream on a towel.

Spot corrector creams come in different forms: serum, gel, emulsion, hydroalcoholic solution, and mask. Thus, they adapt to all skin types.

Spot corrector creams contain different active ingredients. To discover which ones your spot corrector contains, simply read the label. These often include:

  • Antioxidants, such as 5%-15% vitamin C.
  • Mequinol. 2%-10% concentrations. This substance produces a reversible depigmentation of the skin, by preventing the metabolic processes of melanocytes. A study published by Therapeutics for the Clinician confirms its efficacy for solar lentigos.
  • Azelaic acid. At 10% to 20% concentrations. According to a publication in MedlinePlus, it’s antibacterial.
  • 5% niacinamide
  • Kojic acid
  • Plant extracts. Bearberry, arbutin, licorice, chamomile, or mulberry.
  • Acids. Such as phytic, at 1% to 2%, alpha-lipoic, at 2% to 8%, and ellagic at 1%.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids. As an NIH publication states, they have the function of exfoliating the skin to minimize the appearance of spots.
  • Keratolytics, such as salicylic acid.

In addition to those we mentioned above, other ingredients that require a medical prescription can be added, such as retinoic acid and hydroquinone. Due to the various uses they can have, a dermatologist should advise the use of one product over another.

You should also read: Correct Dark Spots with Makeup Using these Tips

Combine spot corrector creams with sunscreen

Spots are a chronic process that sun exposure can worsen. As the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Devices advises, in the spring and summer, you must apply sunscreen half an hour before exposure, and reapply it every two hours.

It’s also advisable to reapply if you take a swim or practice an intense sports activity. Remember the importance of wearing sunscreen every day. Among other advantages, sunscreen is a great anti-aging cream, since it protects the skin against the damage that UVA rays can cause.

A woman applying sunscreen.

How to apply spot corrector creams

The general guideline is to use it at night, for one or two weeks, until the skin gets used to it. It’s normal if you notice a slight stinging in the first applications. However, if the irritation persists, you should stop using it and consult the dermatologist that prescribed it to you.

Although some spot corrector creams don’t require a prescription, it’s very important to consult a professional, as it guarantees greater treatment safety and effectiveness. Also, certain products tend to be more irritating and photosensitizing, which is why doctors generally recommend applying them at night.

Once you achieve the desired results, it’s a good idea to continue your sun protection regimen, following your dermatologist’s instructions. In addition, the dermatologist may recommend food supplements that help prevent the appearance of new spots and reduce existing ones.

This article may also interest you: Natural Remedies to Reduce Dark Spots on Your Neck

Spot corrector creams: habits make the difference

Spot corrector creams help reduce spots and even out skin tone. However, the results you’ll get from the treatment greatly depend on whether you use sunscreen in your daily life.

It’s also important for you to correctly identify spots. While some don’t improve with the application of spot corrector creams, others do. For this reason, it’s always best to get professional advice.

  • Fragoso-Covarrubias, C. E., Tirado-Sánchez, A., & Ponce-Olivera, R. M. (2015). Eficacia y seguridad de la combinación de arbutina 5% + ácido glicólico 10% + ácido kójico 2% en crema contra hidroquinona 4% en el tratamiento del melasma facial en mujeres con fototipo III-IV de Fitzpatrick. Dermatologia Revista Mexicana.
  • CONSEJOS DE LA AEMPS SOBRE PROTECCIÓN SOLAR. Ministerio de Sanidad, Consumo y Bienestar de España. https://www.aemps.gob.es/cosmeticosHigiene/cosmeticos/docs/proteccion_solar.pdf
  • Alfahidroxiácido. Diccionario Instituto Nacional del Cáncer. https://www.cancer.gov/espanol/publicaciones/diccionario/def/alfahidroxiacido
  • Ácido azelaico tópico. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/spanish/druginfo/meds/a603020-es.html
  • Michael Jarratt. 2004. Mequinol 2%/Tretinoin 0.01% Solution: An Effective and Safe Alternative to Hydroquinone 3% in the Treatment of Solar Lentigines. Therapeutics for the Clinician. https://mdedge-files-live.s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/files/s3fs-public/Document/September-2017/074050319.pdf
  • E. Pacheco Vázqueza, I. Muñoz Duránb y M. Martín Rodríguez. 2018. DERMATITIS DE BERLOQUE: A PROPÓSITO DE UN CASO. Medicina de Familia. https://www.elsevier.es/es-revista-medicina-familia-semergen-40-congresos-40-congreso-nacional-semergen-96-sesion-dermatologia-5225-comunicacion-dermatitis-de-berloque-a-proposito-62478
  • Manchas seniles (manchas cutáneas). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/es-es/diseases-conditions/age-spots/symptoms-causes/syc-20355859