Portrait of a young woman with a facial mask
Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Whether you want to lighten dark spots, brighten your complexion, even skin tone or soothe redness, there are face masks formulated to address many types of discoloration. When browsing for masks in the drugstore or cosmetics shop, or mixing one up at home, use specific ingredients to most effectively address different kinds of skin problems and unlock the key to more radiant skin.

Lightening Masks

To lighten age spots or treat hyperpigmentation, choose a mask with topical hydroquinone. Found in many prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) skin-lightening treatments, topical hydroquinone is considered by many dermatologists to be a safe and effective treatment for skin discolorations. Natural lightening agents to look for in a mask include plants extracts such as licorice extract, which help naturally lighten and brighten skin tone. Skin treatments with vitamin C may also be effective for inhibiting melanin production.

Exfoliating Masks

Find exfoliating masks with alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), such as lactic acid or glycolic acid. While these types of products won't lighten discoloration or inhibit melanin production like other ingredients, exfoliating skin with AHAs promotes faster skin cell turnover and removes unhealthy layers of skin cells where hyperpigmented cells may build up. Exfoliation also allows new skin to emerge for a healthy glow and a more even looking complexion. Look for fruit-juice enzymes in a mask, such as papaya and pineapple, to gently exfoliate dull, dry skin.

Soothing Masks

To help target redness, choose a mask with skin-soothing properties. Cucumber, chamomile, aloe and green tea extract are natural ingredients found in skin treatments that can help calm red, irritated or sensitive skin. Dry skin masks also may contain hyaluronic acid (HA) or glycerin to add moisture. Ingredients such as menthol and willow extracts help reduce inflammation.

Home Remedies

Help lighten acne scars or improve skin color at home with a gentle, all-natural face treatment. Lemon and yogurt contain lightening properties you can use together to create a brightening mask. Mix together 4 teaspoons of fresh lemon with 3 teaspoons of plain or Greek yogurt. Whisk in two tablespoons of honey, a skin soother and antibacterial; and an egg white, which contains skin-strengthening protein. Apply on areas of discoloration or use all over your face. Leave on for 15 minutes and rinse off with warm water.