The Best Skin Lightening Cream for Melasma: Our 9 Favorites

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Melasma is a tricky skin condition to deal with – it’s usually triggered by hormonal changes or UV exposure, and while some may be able to restore their natural skin tone in just a few months, other people find that their dark spots stubbornly refuse to budge.

Here’s the good news: topical treatments can be extremely effective at lightening melasma, so long as you’re using the right combination of ingredients for your skin type. If you’re ready to finally take control of your uneven skin tone, here are the nine best skin lightening creams for melasma to consider.

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The Best Skin Lightening Cream for Melasma: Our Top 9 Picks

There are so many products out there designed to treat hyperpigmentation, making it difficult to know which one/s will actually provide results. Don’t worry, we’ve done the hard work for you – this list should make it easy to decipher which skin whitening products will work best for your skin.

Best Overall Cream: Meladerm by Civant Skin Care

civant meladerm

Hydroquinone is a common go-to when it comes to treating melasma, but safety concerns and proposed bans on the ingredient have led to people rightfully seeking out a better alternative. Meladerm was one of the first hydroquinone-free skincare lines to be designed for hyperpigmentation, including melasma, meaning that it has gained a very loyal following over the years.

This reverence is well-deserved – Meladerm contains more than 10 cutting-edge skin lightening ingredients, each one proven by multiple studies to help with melasma and other forms of hyperpigmentation. 

There are plenty of classics, including vitamin C and kojic acid, as well as some lesser-known skin lightening extracts, such as bearberry, mulberry, and lemon. To up the ante even more, Civant Skin Care has also included a few patented skin-brightening ingredients into the blend, along with a handful of humectants, including hyaluronic acid, to keep the skin looking plump and fresh.

You’ll find thousands of 5-star Meladerm reviews online, with the general consensus being that this formula is capable of producing results in just a few days, on all skin types and tones. Keep using it for a few months and those dark marks will soon completely fade away!


Best Anti-Melasma Cream for All Skin Types: SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector

SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector

One of our favorite and best skin lightening creams for melasma, the Advanced Pigment Corrector from SkinCeuticals is a fantastic all-rounder. It’s suitable for all skin types, all skin tones, and is free of any irritating additives. Its efficacy comes from its exclusive cocktail of acids; hydroxyphenoxy propionic acid, ellagic acid, and salicylic acid all make an appearance in this blend.

As a result, it effectively brightens skin discoloration caused by melasma and excess sun exposure.

Another reason we love this cream? Its texture. It’s very lightweight, meaning that it can easily be layered underneath makeup.


Best Hydroquinone Cream for Melasma: Ambi Fade Cream

Ambi Fade Cream - Ambi Fade Cream - best skin lightening cream for melasma

Some love it while others hate it. Wherever you stand, there’s no denying that hydroquinone is effective at treating melasma. Yes, you’ll probably have to deal with some side effects, but this is one of the best skin lighteners out there, which is why the Ambi Fade Cream had to make it onto our list.

Designed for normal skin types, this cream contains 2% hydroquinone, which is the maximum concentration that you’ll be able to buy over the counter. Don’t let this put you off – 2% is plenty, even for severe dark patches, and it also means that you may be lucky enough to escape the dryness and severe skin irritation that sometimes accompanies higher concentrations.

You’ll also find lactic acid in this formula, which offers a mild exfoliation, along with betaine, an ingredient that hydrates the skin and boosts overall skin health.


Best Melasma Face Serum: Dr. Dennis Gross Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum

Dr. Dennis Gross Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum

While some of the products on this list focus on just a few key ingredients, the Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum from Dr. Dennis Gross brings together a huge variety of brightening compounds. In this formula, you’ll find kojic acid, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, arbutin, and so many more!

Not only is this serum capable of reducing dark spot appearance in just a few weeks, but it’ll also boost skin cell turnover to leave you with firmer and tighter skin.


Best Vitamin C Treatment for Melasma: Glow Recipe Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum

Glow Recipe Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum

While on the hunt for the best skin lightening creams and serums, we came across this little beauty; the Glow Recipe Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum. As you can tell from its name, vitamin C is its featured ingredient; a powerful antioxidant that studies have proven to be capable of lightening dark spots [1] while also minimizing free radical damage.

However, unlike many of the other vitamin C serums out there, this one contains five forms of the vitamin, along with guava extract, which is a rich natural source of vitamin C.

Also in this rosy-hued blend (we adore its pretty pink color!) are tranexamic acid, ferulic acid, vitamin E, and a long list of brightening botanical extracts with potent antioxidant properties. Use it twice daily and you should start to see results in 2-4 weeks’ time.


Best Product for Melasma on the Body: Derma E Skin Brighten

Derma E Skin Brighten

Although it’s quite rare for melasma to appear on the body, dark patches can sometimes form on the neck and arms. While there’s nothing wrong with using your facial melasma treatments on your body too, some of the best melasma creams on this list come in very small tubes – it won’t be long before you run out.

So, instead, go for topical creams designed for both the face and the body, such as the Derma E Skin Brighten.

This herbal blend is infused with a few select skin-lightening ingredients, including alpha-arbutin, licorice root extract, and vitamin C. You’ll need to use it twice a day for the first month – once you start seeing results, you can cut back to using it once a day.


Best Low-Price Melasma Lightening Cream: The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

If you’re on a tight budget, then The Ordinary is a brand that you’ll love – they’re known for their high-concentration formulas available at low prices, and their Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% is no exception. Studies show that azelaic acid, which is a natural ingredient produced by yeast, is extremely effective at decreasing excess melanin production, making it a must-have for treating dark spots.

In addition to helping with melasma, this lightweight cream can also be used to treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, such as acne scars. It’s suitable for all skin types, as well as all skin tones.


Best (and Only) Melasma Cream with Cysteamine: Scientis Cyspera Intensive Pigmentation Corrector

Scientis Cyspera Intensive Pigmentation Corrector

Let’s talk about cysteamine, an ingredient that you’ve probably never heard of. We’ll be honest – neither had we until we came across the Cyspera Intensive Pigmentation Corrector. It’s an ingredient used in the medical field, usually for kidney-related problems.

However, it also happens to be an effective skin lightener that’s effective at reducing melanin production. In fact, research suggests that this ingredient shows so much promise that it could be a potential alternative to the harsher treatments out there, such as those containing hydroquinone [2].

While cysteamine is the star of this show, there are a few other noteworthy ingredients in this formula too, including vitamin C, niacinamide, and shea butter. It’s worth keeping in mind that, unlike other dark spot treatments that are designed to remain on the skin, this one needs to be washed off after 15 minutes, just like you would a face mask.


Best SPF Whitening Cream to Prevent & Treat Melasma: Kare Melarase AM Intensive Skin Brightener

Kare Melarase AM Intensive Skin Brightener

As mentioned, UV exposure can often trigger melasma. This is why a broad spectrum SPF is important throughout the year – staying diligent about keeping your skin safe could keep those dark patches at bay. However, even if you already have some existing dark spots, a good SPF cream is worth investing in.

After all, you’ll never be able to actually get rid of your melasma until you put a stop to the daily sun damage that you’re subjecting your skin to.

The easiest way to do this is with a melasma cream that also offers SPF protection, which brings us to the Melarase AM Intensive Skin Brightener. This creamy formula prevents melanin production while also offering up SPF 30, making it ideal for daytime use.

It’s a gentle cream that can be used by all skin types, even on sensitive skin. Rather than containing harsh bleaching ingredients, this one is formulated with lightening plant extracts, such as licorice, barberry, and mulberry.


Best Overnight Melasma Product: The ISDIN Night Peel

The ISDIN Night Pee

Most dermatologists recommend chemical peels for treating the dark spots that accompany melasma. Why? Because the way in which a chemical peel removes the top layer of skin not only gets rid of discolored skin cells but also boosts cell turnover and regeneration.

As a result, your skin will replace those cells that you’ve just removed with fresh, clear cells that give you an even skin tone.

At-home peels aren’t quite as potent as professional versions, but some still offer fantastic results, with the ISDIN Night Peel being a prime example. This formula brings together a selection of alpha-hydroxy acids, including glycolic acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid. It has also been infused with several hydrating agents.

As a result, not only will this overnight treatment help with your dark spots, but it’ll also improve skin texture and treat the fine lines and wrinkles associated with aging skin.



Which cream is best for removing melasma?

We’ve gathered together all of the best creams for removing melasma in the list above!

How can I lighten melasma?

There are several topical products out there that will help you to lighten melasma. Look for ones that contain a variety of brightening ingredients, such as kojic acid, glycolic acid, licorice root extract, and alpha-arbutin.

What’s the best hydroquinone cream for melasma?

The Ambi Fade Cream is the best hydroquinone cream for treating dark spots and melasma.

Can kojic acid help with melasma?

Yes, kojic acid is a fantastic ingredient to use when treating melasma.

How can I fade melasma naturally?

Woman being cured from a skin disease

There are a number of natural ingredients out there that are effective at fading the dark spots caused by melasma, including licorice root extract, mulberry extract, and bearberry extract. We’ve featured a few products that contain these natural melasma ingredients in our list above.

Are you wondering whether cocoa butter can help with melasma too? Read our article: Can Cocoa Butter Lighten Skin and find out.

What’s the fastest way to cure melasma?

Combining topical formulas with professional treatments, such as chemical peels, is the fastest way to cure melasma.

Does anything actually get rid of melasma?

Many people are able to get rid of their melasma with a combination of treatment products, sun protection, and time. However, for some, melasma could be a permanent condition.

How can I permanently get rid of melasma?

Using the right melasma products and protecting your skin from the sun are your best bet when it comes to permanently getting rid of melasma.

What helps with melasma on dark skin?

Melasma creams containing natural acids and extracts are best for dark skin.

What is the most effective melasma treatment?

The combination of hydroquinone, tretinoin (vitamin A), and corticosteroid is the most effective melasma treatment [3].

What are the latest treatments for melasma?

Oral tranexamic acid is one of the latest treatments for melasma that’s showing great promise.

Does lemon juice remove melasma?

Yes, lemon juice can help to remove melasma because it acts as a natural bleaching agent.

Can I treat melasma naturally?

Yes, there are so many natural ingredients out there that can help treat melasma!

What are the best ingredients for melasma?

Hydroquinone, vitamins A and C, kojic acid, arbutin, and exfoliating acids are some of the best ingredients for melasma.

How can I lighten melasma on my skin?

Using the right topical ingredients and protecting your skin from UV rays will enable you to lighten the melasma on your skin.

RELATED: Best Skin Bleaching Creams in the USA


Hopefully, while scrolling through this list, you’ve come across a few products that you like the sound of. There’s nothing wrong with narrowing your choices down to just one, but we would highly recommend combining at least two different treatments, ideally two formulas that offer a different variety of ingredients.

This will allow you to target those dark spots even faster, meaning that you won’t need to wait quite so long before you start seeing results.

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Avatar for Megan Foley

Megan has been a freelance writer and editor since 2016. In that time, she’s penned a diverse collection of articles for online publication, with a focus on skincare and beauty. From in-depth product reviews to concise marketing content, Megan is passionate about developing content that informs, entertains, and inspires.