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What Causes Dark Spots?

Discover the different triggers & meet our newest solution.
What Causes Dark Spots Skincare Library

Any skin type and skin tone can develop dark spots, but did you know we develop dark spots for different reasons? According to Dr. Murad, anything from too much UV exposure to hormonal shifts can trigger dark spots—and trigger your desire for a dark spot serum to eliminate them fast. Learn all about the different dark spot causes and meet the latest dark spot serum that takes them on.

Pregnancy/Hormonal shifts

“Predominantly seen in women, Melasma can be triggered by hormone fluctuations, particularly the hormones released during pregnancy, which is why it is often called the ‘mask of pregnancy,’” says Dr. Murad. The mask of pregnancy often appears on the forehead, above the lip, cheeks, and chin.

Trauma or injury to the skin (including post-acne scarring)

Burns and cuts can result in darkening of skin at the site of the wound. This is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Why does this happen? “Melanin is sometimes released at the site of the wound during skin’s healing and recovery,” says Dr. Murad.

This flood of excess melanin can also happen at the site of a healing pimple, and what’s left is a dark mark. This is also known as PIH or post-acne scarring.

Medications known to cause pigmentation

Certain medications are known to trigger an accumulation of melanin and can be worsened by sun exposure. There are various reasons as to why this could happen: the medication reacts with something in the skin, or the medicine triggers excess melanin production. If you’re concerned about medications and how they’ll impact your skin, speak to your doctor.


As with most processes in the body, ageing decreases the skin’s natural ability to combat the damage from UV rays, and melanin pigment production can deposit and accumulate. This results in visible dark spots and uneven skin tone.

UV exposure

Dermatologists consider UV exposure the most common dark spot trigger. The overproduction of melanin that leads to dark spots is your body’s way of protecting itself. Take a look at your hands, face, arms, and even décolleté. These areas experience cumulative UV exposure and reflect that exposure as dark spots.

What’s the best product for dark spots?

“The best product for dark spots delivers the fast correcting results you want without having to get a prescription," says Dr. Murad. That’s why he formulated Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum, his intensive serum that promotes surface cell turnover for more even, brighter skin.

This dark spot serum goes one step beyond correction with antioxidant resorcinol that helps prevent dark spots for more even skin tone in the future. Glycolic acid, one of the first and most sought-after exfoliants in Dr. Murad’s dermatology practice, removes dulling surface cells for enhanced radiance on all skin tones.

In addition to using a dark spot serum to minimise the look of uneven tone, Dr. Murad says, “One of the most important elements of dark spot prevention and correction is caution in the sun and faithful use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen,” advises Dr. Murad. That’s because excessive UV exposure isn’t just a dark spot trigger. It’s also an instigator. Dark spots of any kind can become darker if skin isn’t shielded from UV light. Apply SPF religiously (rain or shine, indoors or outdoors), to prevent new dark spots from forming.

Shop This Article

  • Essential-C Cleanser
    Essential-C Cleanser

    Vitamin-rich, energising cleanser washes away impurities without over-drying skin.

    $62.00 | 200ML
  • Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum
    Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum

    Rapidly reduce the look of hyperpigmentation without a doctor’s visit. This intensive serum promotes surface cell turnover for brighter, more even skin.

    $135.00 | 30ML
  • Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 15
    Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 15

    Daily moisturiser hydrates, protects and revitalises skin.

    $108.00 | 50ML
  • City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 15
    City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 15

    100% mineral, indoor/outdoor SPF shields against digital blue light damage, UVA, UVB & pollution.

    $115.00 | 50ML