Beautiful woman applying cream on cheek
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Discoloration and brown spots -- typically harmless effects of aging, known collectively as hyperpigmentation -- are best addressed with prevention. Start using sunscreen before spots appear and protect commonly affected areas -- such as your face, shoulders and the back of your hands -- with clothing and hats. These simple measures help keep spots from appearing and ward off additional discoloration for those already affected. If you're in the latter category, don't lose hope; turn to professional skin-brightening recommendations to find the cream of the crop.

Value Options

Among the most affordable reviewer-recommended skin brighteners, Garnier Skin Renew Clinical Dark Spot Corrector and Physicians Formula Dark Spot Corrector and Skin Brightener both make "Ebony" magazine's 2013 list of the Best Dark Spot Correctors. The mag's website praises Skin Renew's ability to exfoliate and encourage cell turnover, while it touts the Physicians Formula cream's brightening, firming and skin-tone-evening power. Clarins Bright Plus HP On-the-Spot Brightening Corrector appears on the 2013 Lust List from “Elle,” who calls the product “portable ammo” in the fight against dark spots. This corrector fades current spots with sea lily and prevents further darkening with vitamin C and raspberry extract.

Mid-Priced Solutions

“Elle” also recommends NIA24 Sun Damage Repair, which it positions as a particularly effective treatment for spotty shoulders. For roughly the same price, the magazine also praises L'Occitane Immortelle Brightening Essence for the face, dubbing it a “silky” serum that helps fade spots while it exfoliates the skin with wintergreen leaf. For sensitive skin, “Woman and Home” commends the fragrance-, paraben- and silicone-free Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution.

On the High End

For about twice the price of a mid-range fading cream, “Elle” praises La Praire White Caviar Spot Treatment, a gel pen applicator that targets specific spots with brightening Swiss garden cress and soy isoflavone. For just a little bit less, “Allure” awards Elure Advanced Skin Lightening Lotion with a Best of Beauty 2013 seal. Also a winner in 2011 and 2012, this product uses the mushroom-derived melanozyme to dissolve melanin and is said to fade spots within four weeks.

Au Naturale

Named in the 2013 list of the 40 Best Natural Beauty Products, published by "The Telegraph," Amala's Brightening Corrective Concentrate is touted for its effectiveness at slowing melanin production, while packing skin-friendly antioxidants. The same source likes Skin Cream 01 by Dr. Jackson, a day cream with baobab, shea butter and marula oil. According to “The Telegraph,” this formula took 17 years of research to perfect. Both products reside on the high end of the price range.