16 Home Remedies to Lighten Black Spots on Skin

Black spots on skin are also known as dark spots, age spots, sun spots, or liver spots. These conditions are extremely common skin concerns. They can appear on any part of the body, including the face, hands, shoulders, and arms. While generally harmless, many people want to get rid of black spots for cosmetic reasons. Thankfully, there are many effective home remedies to naturally lighten and reduce the appearance of these spots over time. This article will discuss 16 best natural remedies to get rid of black spots on skin.

Common Types of Black Spots on Skin

There are different clinical names and classifications used to describe common black spots that appear on the skin:

  • Freckles – Freckles are small, flat, tan to brown spots caused by sun exposure. They are very common on faces and shoulders especially in those with fair or light complexions. Freckles frequently emerge in childhood and adolescence.
  • Age spots – Medically termed lentigines, these are flat, tan to brown spots that appear on the face, hands, shoulders, arms, and other sun-exposed areas of the body. They are associated with aging and excessive sun exposure.
  • Melasma – Known as chloasma faciei during pregnancy, melasma causes symmetric, irregular light to dark brown patches commonly appearing on the cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin. It is thought to be triggered by surges in estrogen and progesterone.
  • Solar lentigines – These flat, light to dark brown spots have distinct edges and are caused by long-term UV radiation damage from the sun. They mostly appear on the face, hands, and arms after age 40.
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation – This refers to the darkened or discolored area that remains after an acne lesion, cut, burn, blister, or other skin injury has healed. Inflammation and skin trauma prompts excess melanin production.
  • Seborrheic keratosis – These are benign, non-cancerous growths that may be light tan to black in color. They have a waxy, “stuck-on” appearance occurring on the face, chest, back, and abdomen as people age.
  • Moles – Also known medically as nevi, moles are a normal growth on the skin formed by pigment producing melanocytes. While usually tan to brown, some moles can appear black.
Black Spots on Skin
Black Spots on Skin

What Causes Black Spots on Skin?

There are several potential causes and contributing factors that can trigger the development of black spots on the skin:

  • Sun exposure and UV damage – This is the leading cause of dark spots as the ultraviolet UV radiation from the sun triggers increased production of melanin, which is the pigment that gives skin its color. The melanin clusters together forming unsightly marks and areas of hyperpigmentation.
  • Skin injuries – Dark spots may form after acne, bug bites, cuts, burns, or other trauma to the skin. The trauma causes the skin to produce extra melanin as part of the healing process, resulting in hyperpigmentation.
  • Age spots – Also known as liver spots, these black or brown spots develop gradually over time due to prolonged sun exposure. They are very common in those over 40 years old. Age spots form when melanin accumulates in clusters rather than being evenly distributed.
  • Melanin overproduction – The body’s melanin pigment can cluster together forming dark patches and spots, especially in those with darker skin tones. Anything that stimulates melanin production, like sun exposure or hormones, can trigger this localized hyperpigmentation.
  • Hormonal changes – Fluctuating hormones during pregnancy, menopause or with birth control pill use can cause melanin overproduction. This leads to melasma or chloasma which causes brown patches on the face.
  • Genetics and ethnicity – Those with darker skin tones and pigmentation are much more prone to developing black spots and hyperpigmentation. People of Hispanic, African, and Asian descent are at higher risk as melanin is overproduced easily.
  • Medications – Certain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, chemotherapy drugs and antimalarials can increase skin pigmentation as a side effect.
  • Skin disorders – Issues like acanthosis nigricans, eczema, psoriasis and lichen planus are associated with darker patches on inflamed skin.
  • Liver disease – Black spots may also signal liver disease or nutrient deficiencies. But in most cases, the culprit is sun exposure and genetics.

16 Home Remedies to Lighten Black Spots on Skin

While stubborn, black spots and areas of hyperpigmentation can be gradually lightened and reduced over time with the consistent use of natural ingredients and home remedies. Here are 12 of the best home treatments for fading dark spots on the skin:

1. Lemon Juice

The high citric acid content in fresh lemon juice helps to gently exfoliate and peel away the top layers of damaged, pigmented skin. Its high concentration of vitamin C also inhibits tyrosinase, which is the enzyme involved in melanin production.

This helps lighten skin and prevent further darkening. Dip a cotton ball in fresh squeezed lemon juice and apply it directly on dark spots. Leave it on for about 15 minutes before rinsing with water. Apply this lemon juice treatment once or twice daily.

2. Buttermilk

Cultured buttermilk contains lactic acid which helps to gently exfoliate the skin, remove dead skin cells, and fade pigmentation and discoloration. It also has mild bleaching properties which helps lighten freckles, age spots, and areas of sun damage.

Simply apply some buttermilk directly on the dark spots using a cotton ball. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before rinsing off with water. Repeat this process once or twice daily for best results.

3. Red Onion

Onions, especially red onions, contain high levels of quercetin and other compounds that are powerful antioxidants with skin lightening properties.

Onion juice or freshly grated onion helps reduce the production and transfer of melanin which causes hyperpigmentation. Rub thin onion slices directly on dark spots for 5-10 minutes before washing off with cold water. Do this once or twice daily.

4. Aloe Vera Gel

Health Benefits of Aloe Vera Gel
Health Benefits of Aloe Vera Gel

The mucilaginous gel from aloe vera leaves has natural skin lightening and bleaching effects. It contains aloesin and aloin which helps inhibit melanin production in the skin.

Apply fresh gel extracted from an aloe plant directly on the dark spots. Let it completely dry, about 20 minutes, then rinse with water. Repeat once daily for a few weeks.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a commonly used natural bleaching agent. It helps remove dead skin cells and inhibits melanin synthesis which lightens discoloration.

Dip a cotton ball in undiluted apple cider vinegar and gently apply it directly on the pigmented areas. Leave it on for about 10-15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with water. Do this once or twice per day.

6. Green Tea

The caffeine and potent antioxidants called catechins found in green tea are beneficial for skin health. They help fight free radicals which contribute to aging, sun damage, and skin pigmentation.

Brew some organic green tea, let it cool, and apply it over dark spots using a cotton ball. Rinse off with water after it dries. Drink 1-2 cups of green tea daily as well.

7. Vitamin C Serum

Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant for skin health. When applied topically, it reduces melanin synthesis which lightens pigmentation and age spots.

Look for serums with a 10-15% concentration of vitamin C, ideally l-ascorbic acid which readily absorbs into skin. Gently massage a few drops of vitamin C serum all over the face, not just on the spots, every morning.

8. Licorice Root Extract

Licorice root extract contains liquiritin and glabridin which help brighten skin and lighten dark spots through inhibition of melanin production.

Apply creams, serums or gels containing licorice root extract directly to hyperpigmented areas. Leave it on overnight, then wash off in the morning. Use daily or as directed on the product.

9. Niacinamide

Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is a powerful skin-lightening compound that works by decreasing melanosome transfer to keratinocytes which results in decreased hyperpigmentation.

It also minimizes redness, blotchiness, and sites of pigmentation by improving skin barrier function. Use a niacinamide cream or serum containing at least 2-5% concentration daily as part of your skincare regimen for a brighter, more even complexion.

10. Vitamin E Oil

Vitamin E
Benefits of Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help reduce hyperpigmentation by combating free radicals that cause skin damage and sun spots. It also helps moisturize dry skin.

You can find vitamin E oil capsules at most drug stores. Puncture a capsule and apply the oil directly onto spots. Gently massage in and leave it on overnight.

11. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is effective for lightening dark patches thanks to its hydrating and exfoliating properties. It contains medium chain fatty acids like lauric acid that help remove layers of dead, pigmented skin cells through gentle exfoliation.

Massage extra virgin coconut oil into dark spots and allow it to penetrate for 20 minutes before rinsing off. Reapply once or twice daily.

12. Chemical Exfoliation

Using over-the-counter chemical exfoliating products can help fade spots by increasing cell turnover. Look for exfoliants that contain alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid or lactic acid, as well as beta hydroxy acids like salicylic acid.

Apply a thin layer all over the face, not just on spots, several times per week. Avoid excessive exfoliation which can further darken spots.

13. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an effective bleaching agent that helps fade hyperpigmentation and age spots. It works by oxidizing the melanin.

Dip a cotton swab in 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and dab it directly on the dark spots. Let it bubble for 2-3 minutes before washing off. Apply once daily.

14. Potato Juice

Potatoes have mild bleaching properties that can help lighten skin discoloration. Grate a potato, squeeze out and collect its juice. Apply the potato juice on dark spots using a cotton ball. Leave it on for 15 minutes then rinse off. Do this daily.

15. Oatmeal

Oatmeal contains saponins that act as natural cleansers when applied on the skin. It gently exfoliates to remove pigmented skin cells. Make a paste by mixing powdered oatmeal with some water or yogurt. Rub it on black spots for 10 minutes then wash it off. Repeat daily.

16. Papaya

Papaya fruit contains papain enzyme that exfoliates dead skin cells and reveals younger, lighter skin. Mash some ripe papaya pulp and apply on dark spots. Allow it to work for 20 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. Do this once daily.

How to Prevent Dark Spots on Skin

In addition to home remedies, the following healthy lifestyle measures can help reduce and prevent the recurrence and worsening of unsightly dark spots on the skin:

  • Use sunscreen daily – Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to all sun-exposed skin whenever going outdoors, even when cloudy. Reapply every 2 hours when outdoors for extended periods. This protects skin from UV damage that causes age spots.
  • Limit sun exposure – Seek shade under trees, umbrellas or canopies whenever possible. Wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses as added protection. Avoid extended sun exposure during peak hours from 10am-2pm.
  • Eat a healthy diet – Eat plenty of antioxidant and vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables which combat free radical damage. Green tea, fatty fish, nuts and healthy fats also fight inflammation implicated in hyperpigmentation.
  • Quit smoking – Smoking causes vascular damage and inflammation that can worsen dark spots. So quitting is best to avoid exacerbating skin pigmentation.
  • Manage stress – Chronic stress stimulates hormones like cortisol that trigger melasma and skin pigmentation. Adopt relaxing practices like meditation, yoga and deep breathing. Get good sleep and take time for hobbies.
  • Get regular skin checks – Have a dermatologist examine your skin for any suspicious moles or spots that may indicate skin cancer. Catching melanoma early is crucial for survival.

When to See a Doctor?

While most black spots are harmless, it’s important to monitor them and consult a doctor promptly if you notice:

  • Spots that are rapidly enlarging, changing color, or have an irregular border which may indicate melanoma or another type of skin cancer.
  • New spots appearing suddenly in large numbers which may signal an underlying disease or condition.
  • Spots that itch, burn, crust, bleed or become painful warranting examination.
  • No improvement in the spots after diligently trying home remedies for 2-3 months.

During the appointment, the doctor will examine the spots. They may recommend laser treatments, cryotherapy, chemical peels, or microdermabrasion if home treatments are ineffective.


In summary, black spots on the skin are common harmless forms of hyperpigmentation. While stubborn, with consistent use of natural home remedies, you can gradually lighten and reduce the appearance of dark spots over time. Always use sun protection as well. See your dermatologist if spots do not respond to home treatments or appear cancerous. With patience and diligent skincare, the skin can regain a clear, flawless, spot-free complexion.

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