Up until I was 20, my face looked like an overripe banana. These days, my visage is certainly not without evidence that I am a living, human person, but some years ago my skin was especially lackluster, speckly, and discolored. (See: overwatered houseplants.) My scar-prone olive skin had every zit, blackhead, mosquito bite, scratch, and scuff cataloged in the form of hyperpigmentation. Acne is doubly stressful when you know it comes with baggage.
Desperate for a solution, I stumbled on Murad’s Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum, Googled its reviews, and took a chance. Murad is a dermatologist-founded skin-care company with an extensive collection of elixirs packaged in serviceably beautiful bottles and tubes. The ingredients are clinical. In the serum I tried, glycolic acid and hydroquinone supposedly work together to loosen dead skin cells and lighten discoloration. (Note that hydroquinone is currently being studied by the FDA for its potentially harmful side-effects.) The formula is concentrated. One pump of the potent jelly is typically adequate for each hemisphere of my face. And, perhaps most important, the application is simple. I start the treatment immediately after my blemish heals — post-acne marks are easiest to quash in their larval stage. I rub the serum onto clean skin, when it is most receptive. It smells vaguely medicinal, like a prescribed ointment, but any scent or residue is nonexistent once it has been absorbed. My skin is left with an activated tingle that tells me it’s working. I seal it in with a moisturizer and bask in the glow of modern dermatological science.
I repeat this process every night before bed for only as long as I need to. Usually, by the third night, I can see a visible reduction in dark spots. By the fifth day, they become imperceptible. After a week, I’ve forgotten about them entirely. I’ve added hyperpigmentation to the list of things I’m fine without as I inch closer to 30 — right next to dairy and all-nighters. That’s what I call progress.
Buy It: $40 at Amazon
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