Every year, like clockwork, autumn rolls around and I notice my skin looks dull, blotchy, and uneven. I suppose it’s only natural. After all, I tend to spend a lot of time outside in the summer (I would live at the beach if I could), and even though I’m serious about wearing sunscreen every single day and reapplying it often, hyperpigmentation happens. . That’s why, each September and October, I embark on a quest to brighten, refresh, and generally just even out my slightly sun-damaged complexion. There are two tone-transforming methods I swear by. The first is consistent exfoliation (usually via an effective yet non-irritating resurfacing mask). The second is brightening by way of a vitamin C serum. Lately, I’ve been using one that only costs $20 yet contains a mixture of potent brightening ingredients. Over time, it’s helping me achieve my post-summer goal of brightening my skin and fading discoloration. Keep scrolling to see which serum I’m talking about.
Here it is—the aptly named
Stroke of Brilliance Brightening Serum. Whereas most brightening serums are formulated with vitamin C alone, this one contains the powerhouse ingredient along with a mixture of other skin tone-improving actives.
What are those actives, you ask? They are licorice root, red algae extract, and niacinamide. The first two are skin-lightening agents that inhibit pigmentation. The last one is a form of vitamin B3 that targets discoloration (along with enlarged pores, redness, fine lines, and wrinkles).
My hyperpigmentation usually presents itself on my nose and cheeks—and most annoyingly—on the sides of my neck and jaw. It starts out as blotchy patches of skin and then tiny dark spots set in. I’ve been using this serum to brighten these areas over the course of a couple of weeks (I stashed away my other vitamin C serums to make sure I was testing this one alone). I’ve been applying it to my face and neck twice a day.
My full skincare routine starts off with a cleanse to remove dirt, sweat, and makeup. Then, I use toner to give my skin a much-needed boost of hydration. From there, it’s time to apply the serum in an even layer all over my face and neck—sometimes even my chest if I feel like being really thorough. Since the serum is only $20 a pop, I don’t feel like I have to be stingy. After that, I move on to moisturizer and, if it’s the morning, sunscreen. Twice a week I’ll throw in an exfoliating mask to help expedite the discoloration-fading process. That’s it–my post-summer skincare routine to fade hyperpigmentation.
There’s one more thing I want to mention. Anyone who’s tried a variety of vitamin C serums knows they can sometimes feel sticky or tacky on the skin and cause sunscreen to pill or become patchy (it’s my nightmare). This one is different. It feels lightweight and hydrating, and there’s no obvious residue. That’s probably, in part, due to the sodium hyaluronate in the formula. This ingredient is a sodium salt form of hyaluronic acid that draws in and retains moisture. (So, yeah, this serum actually hydrates the skin at the same time it brightens it.) . From now through December 19, use code WWW20 at checkout for an exclusive 20% off the Stroke of Brilliance Brightening Serum.
Remember that effective yet non-irritating resurfacing mask I mentioned? This is it. It uses a mix of AHAs, BHAs, and enzymes for comprehensive exfoliation.
In this formula, vitamin C, ginseng root extract, and niacinamide work together to address darkness, puffiness, and under-eye bags.
I love this brightening moisturizer. Read my full review to learn all the reasons why.
This budget-friendly retinol serum will resurface your skin (AKA get rid of sun damage and discoloration) without causing excess irritation.
If dark spots are the bane of your existence like they are mine, use this targeted treatment to fade them. It contains tranexamic acid, kojic acid, niacinamide, and licorice root, so it’s potent.
Mix this stable vitamin C powder into an existing serum or moisturizer for a boost of antioxidants and brightening power.
This brightening toner contains 4 safe-for-skin acids, vitamin C, and bearberry extract to treat hyperpigmentation.
If you’re a face oil person, you’ll love this silky, antioxidant-rich formula. Not only will it give your skin an instant glow, but it will also hydrate, moisturize, and protect against damaging free radicals.
A hyperpigmentation-fading routine is only effective if you’re wearing sunscreen during the day. Don’t skip it.
Don’t forget physical exfoliation (it gets a bad rap, but it’s just as helpful for getting rid of hyperpigmentation). I like this gentle exfoliating cleanser for buffing away dead skin and discoloration.
Another form of physical exfoliation I love is dermaplaning. I keep this handy dermaplaning tool on me at all times. Bonus: it gets rid of peach fuzz, too.
Bring the resurfacing benefits of retinol to your body with this unique retinol-infused body lotion. It’s no secret I’m obsessed with this product, too. Read my full review to learn why.
Next, these drugstore night creams are just as good as luxury ones.