Here’s What to Know About Uneven Skin Tone

That glowing, radiant, luminous look? Yeah, that’s definitely #skincaregoals. But try as we might, uneven skin tone tends to creep up on us. Maybe it’s dark spots, maybe it’s patches of blotchiness, maybe it’s areas of redness. Whatever it may be, it’s important to remember that it’s incredibly common and happens to the best of us! Keep reading to discover both the causes of uneven skin tone and the ways to treat and improve it — so that gorgeous glow will be back in no time.

What Is Uneven Skin Tone?

Simply put, uneven skin tone is distinguished by skin discoloration and a change in skin texture. It can occur in all four skin types (normal skin, dry skin, oily skin, and combination skin), and is caused by an overproduction of melanin (the pigment responsible for hair color and skin color). When too much melanin is present in the skin, it produces dark spots and patches. You may also notice dry, scaly, or rough texture.

You may have heard the term hyperpigmentation before. This refers to dark spots, brown spots, and other forms of skin discoloration. While freckles can fade, hyperpigmentation is the opposite — and it actually can become more visible as you start to age.

What Are The Forms Of Uneven Skin Tone?

You may notice uneven skin tone in a variety of ways:

  • Sun spots and dark spots: These are light brown or black spots that develop after sun damage caused by sun exposure and sunburn.
  • Acne: Inflamed, red pimples caused by clogged pores that lead to whiteheads and blackheads.
  • Dark circles: Also known as periorbital hyperpigmentation, these can also be accompanied by under-eye bags.
  • Melasma: This is characterized by grey or brown patches on the forehead, cheeks, nose bridge, and upper lips, and is also known as hyperpigmentation.
  • Dry skin: A lack of sebum, or oil, in the skin can make it more vulnerable to cracking. When skin is damaged or unhealthy, it can be more prone to roughness and discoloration, and can also appear patchy or ashen.
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH): Brown spots that form as a result of skin inflammation, past skin trauma, or scarring (like a popped pimple or deep cut). This can also be intensified by sun exposure.
  • Post-inflammatory erythema (PIE): Red spots that form as a result of damaged blood vessels.
  • Rosacea: This skin condition is characterized by pimple-like bumps on the nose and cheeks, and facial redness.

What Causes Uneven Skin Tone?

Unfortunately, there’s not just one answer! There are many causes for uneven skin tone to appear.

  • Aging: Age spots may appear as part of your skin’s natural aging process. They’re most commonly noticeable on lighter skin tones, though all skin tones can be affected. You may notice small spots or patches that are oval-shaped or flat, and appear beige, black, or brown in color.
  • Chronic sun exposure: Spending too much time in the sun without SPF can increase the risk of sun damage, which leads to age spots, fine lines, and wrinkles. When your skin is trying to protect itself from harmful UV rays, it produces too much melanin, resulting in brown spots and dark spots.
  • Hormonal changes: Increased levels of progesterone and estrogen in the body can cause melasma. This frequently happens during pregnancy.
  • Diet: Consuming alcohol, dairy, or spicy, sugary, and greasy foods can cause flare-ups of rosacea, which in turn causes facial redness.
  • Genetics: Sometimes, uneven skin tone is caused by certain pigmentary skin disorders, like vitiligo.
  • Lack of sleep: Those recommended eight hours really go a long way! Without them, you may notice dull skin and dark circles to form under your eyes.
  • Air Pollution: Traffic-related air pollution can penetrate the skin and cause brown spots, especially on your face.

So, How Do I Treat Uneven Skin Tone?

The question on everyone’s lips! Luckily, there are ways to protect your skin and treat it when you notice uneven skin tone, dark spots, and hyperpigmentation.

Apply SPF.

We can’t stress this enough. Applying SPF every single day is MAJOR in fighting the damage caused by harmful UV rays that leads to uneven skin tone. Sunscreen helps prevent UV light from causing new spots to form, and it helps control the color intensity of the spots you’ve already noticed. Be sure to apply it daily, even when the weather is grey or overcast.


Hydration is always key (those eight 12oz. glasses of water a day really are important!), but especially when it comes to uneven skin tone and rough texture. By keeping your skin hydrated and moisturized, you can prevent it from becoming dry and starting to form rough patches or dark spots.


Sloughing off dull skin cells and dead skin cells on the skin’s surface through exfoliation is also key in helping to manage and treat uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and rough texture. Generally, using an exfoliator 1-2 times per week is ideal, as exfoliating too aggressively or too frequently can damage your skin.

Don’t Pick!

It can be super tempting to pick at pimples, especially when you notice a big whitehead rearing its ugly, well, head. But acne scarring is one of the major causes of uneven skin tone — and it comes after you pick. So, really, just don’t.

Try A Hydrafacial Treatment.

Ready to treat your uneven skin tone and glow with confidence? Try a Hydrafacial treatment! This personalized experience can help smooth texture and provide even, radiant tone. And if you have a specific skin concern, like uneven skin tone, a booster can help! Your provider can personalize your treatment with a booster that addresses your skin concerns. A few we recommend for uneven skin tone are:

  • Murad Vita-C Booster with Hydrafacial: This booster accelerates skin’s surface renewal, minimizes the look of dark spots and hyperpigmentation, and brightens and smooths the skin. This is thanks to a host of brightening ingredients, including Gold-stabilized Vitamin C, glycolic acid, tranexamic acid, and RepleniCell™ (Dr. Murad’s proprietary technology for younger-looking skin through hydration).
  • Hydrafacial Britenol™: This targeted brightening treatment brightens and balances skin tone while minimizing the appearance of dark spots and sun spots. It includes Alpha-Arbutin (a brightening agent), Vitamin C (an antioxidant), and Bearberry Extract (a brightener).
  • Circadia ProTec Plus Booster: This booster protects the skin from free radical damage, provides optimal hydration, and reduces visible signs of redness. It’s formulated with Diffuporine Peptide (increases skin hydration), Brightenyl (delivers essential antioxidants, protects against inflammation, and reduces pigmentation), AcquaCell (increases hydration levels and diminishes fine lines and wrinkles), and hyaluronic acid (a multiple weight blend that maximizes hydration effect and key ingredient delivery).