How to Lighten Skin: The Best Home Remedies & Professional Treatments

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A dull, uneven, and pigmented skin tone can really make a person look so much older than they actually are. However, with so many factors contributing to dark and dull patches, this isn’t something that’s easily avoided. No matter your age or your lifestyle, chances are that, at some point in your life, you’ll be looking for ways to brighten and even out your complexion. So, here they are – read on and you’ll not only learn how to lighten skin, but we’ll also be sharing a few tips on how to prevent those pesky dark spots from forming in the first place.

What Causes Dark Spots and an Uneven Skin Tone?

Asian woman applying whitening cream

If your skin tone has been looking dull, dark, and patchy, melanin is likely to blame. This is the pigment that gives your skin its natural color. In ideal circumstances, it’s produced at the same rate throughout your skin, meaning that your skin tone will look even across your face and body.

However, there are a few factors out there that can push melanin production into overdrive. Certain parts of the skin end up producing more melanin than others. When all of that excess melanin clusters together underneath areas of your skin, it gives the skin above it a darker appearance, leaving it looking uneven.

Some of the factors that contribute to the over-production of melanin are:

  • Sun exposure
  • Pollution
  • Skin inflammation
  • Wounds and cuts on the skin (such as from breakouts and acne scars)
  • Stress and poor mental health
  • Hormonal changes

Natural Remedies for Lightening Your Skin

While we’ll be covering skin lightening products and professional treatments later on, your very first step should always be to try to lighten your skin naturally. After all, why risk using harsh ingredients or paying high prices for professional treatments when a few simple natural remedies could do the job? Here are some to get you started:

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has long since been a popular skin lightener. This is all thanks to its vitamin C content, which has been proven to effectively lighten skin in a couple of different ways [1].

For starters, vitamin C targets excess melanin in the skin. It breaks these clusters up, allowing the pigment to then be evenly dispersed, which eliminates dark spots. However, it also inhibits the over-production of melanin, which prevents that pigmentation from forming in the first place.

How to Use Lemon Juice to Lighten Your Skin

Fresh lemon juice to lighten skin is best – half a lemon is all you need. If you don’t have any fresh lemons, a couple of teaspoons of bottled lemon juice will work too. Alternatively, use orange juice instead. Whichever you pick, you’ll need to first dilute it. You can use either water or milk to do this – the latter has the added advantage of containing lactic acid, which is a natural bleaching agent that will also exfoliate away dead skin cells.

Once you’ve made your lemon juice solution, apply this to your face and leave it on for about ten minutes. Then, rinse it off with warm water to reveal the glowing skin beneath!

Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera on wooden table

Aloe vera is a popular botanical for skin rejuvenation. It’s famous for being packed with over 75 active constituents [2], one of which is an active ingredient called aloesin. Just like vitamin C, aloesin also prevents the skin from over-producing melanin, which results in a bright and even skin tone.

Since aloe vera is extremely gentle, it can be used on all skin types, whether this may be flaky, dry skin or oily, acne-prone skin. Its plumping properties make it useful for mature skin too – it’ll make those fine lines and wrinkles so much less noticeable.

How to Use Aloe Vera for Skin Lightening

So, how to lighten skin using aloe vera? All you need to do is apply some aloe vera gel to your skin daily, concentrating on the darker and duller areas. Ideally, fresh aloe vera gel would be best. However, if you purchase the gel instead, choose one that’s fragrance-free. Leave the gel on your face for about half an hour before rinsing it off.

Turmeric Powder

Turmeric has been trending lately. This ancient spice offers a number of medicinal and cosmetic benefits, one of which is skin whitening. Science backs this up, with preliminary studies showing that turmeric has a very positive effect when it comes to reducing facial hyperpigmentation [3]. As a bonus, it helps to minimize wrinkles too.

How to Use Turmeric to Lighten Skin

It’s simple – just mix a small amount of turmeric powder with some yogurt, which is another natural skin bleaching ingredient. Once a paste has been formed, apply this to your face and leave it on for about 20 minutes. Then, use a cotton pad to wipe the paste off and rinse off any excess with warm water, before patting your skin dry. Don’t be alarmed if the turmeric looks as though it’s staining your skin yellow – the color will come away when you wash the turmeric off, leaving you with a healthy glow.

Honey and Olive Oil

A pitcher of olive oil on the table

Honey is a true multi-purpose ingredient. It’s packed with active enzymes and good bacteria, which is how it’s able to help with everything from acne to premature aging. Honey is also loved for its mild exfoliating properties, which, when used regularly, will give you an even skin tone.

One thing to keep in mind – if you’re allergic to pollen or celery, honey could trigger an allergic reaction. If you’ve never used honey as a topical home remedy before, perform a patch test before applying it to your face.

How to Use Honey to Lighten Your Skin

To start with, you’ll need some raw honey. This is honey that hasn’t been pasteurized – the pasteurization process kills off several of the active compounds within honey, making it less effective. While you can use honey on its own, its stickiness makes it difficult to spread. Mixing it with a couple of drops of olive oil rectifies this. Apply your honey mixture to your skin, gently rubbing it in. Leave it on for ten minutes, and then rinse off and pat dry.

Colloidal Oatmeal

Colloidal oatmeal is another ingredient that has an exfoliating effect. The way in which it clears away dead skin while stimulating cell regeneration helps to achieve bright and light skin.

How to Use Colloidal Oatmeal for Skin Lightening

You have a few options – the easiest is to add some colloidal oatmeal to a bath, and then soak in this for 15 minutes. Alternatively, mix the oatmeal with some honey to form a paste, and massage this into your skin for ten minutes. This will also help to boost blood flow in your skin, leaving you with a gorgeous inner glow.

What About Skin Lightening Creams?

There are numerous skin lightening treatments out there, with some being much better than others. Many contain dangerous chemicals that have a skin whitening effect but also contribute to skin damage.

how to lighten skin with skin lightening creams

If you’d like to try a skin lightening cream to tackle your age spots, always do a little research into its ingredient list first. Be very wary of anything containing hydroquinone or mercury – these really won’t do your skin health any favors. On the other hand, formulas containing kojic acid, licorice root extract, arbutin, or mulberry can be very beneficial.

Read our guide and pick the best skin bleaching cream for your skin.

Professional Skin Lightening Treatments

If home remedies and skin lightening treatments haven’t helped, you may want to turn to a professional treatment. There are several to choose from, with laser treatments and chemical peels being among the most effective. If this is a route that you want to take, speak to your doctor or dermatologist for advice on which skin whitening treatment would be best suited to your skin.

How to Prevent Your Skin from Darkening

There’s no point putting time, energy, and money into learning how to lighten skin if you’re still doing things that contribute to excess melanin production.

The most important step that you can take to prevent dark spots from forming is to wear sunscreen. This will keep your skin tone even and your skin complexion healthy. It will also prevent your skin from producing excess oil, boosting skin health for those with naturally oily skin.

Additionally, try to use skincare products that contain plenty of antioxidants and hydrating ingredients. These will help to prevent external factors from triggering the over-production of melanin, while also treating skin aging.

RELATED: What Is Tretinoin Cream Used For?

Woman applying moisturizing cream for skincare


Can you lighten your skin color?

While you can’t lighten your natural skin color, it’s very possible to lighten the parts of your skin that have darkened due to sun damage and other lifestyle factors.

How can I whiten my skin in 3 days?

Use a combination of home remedies and skin lightening creams. You should start to notice a difference in three days, although it will take a few weeks for results in your skin complexion to really become apparent.


There are plenty of safe options to choose from when looking for a way to achieve a lighter skin tone while still maintaining healthy skin. It’s always best to start with home remedies first, before moving on to skin lightening creams and treatments. Even in cases of severe hyperpigmentation, this combination should still be effective. However, if nothing seems to work for you, you can always turn to cosmetic treatments. Whichever you choose, remember to always keep your skin protected from UV rays and other damaging environmental factors – this will give you a lighter and brighter complexion so much faster.



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.