Have the holidays (or kids, work, hormones) left you sleep deprived? No wonder your skin is looking a little dull. The happy news is that you can recover your healthy glow with one—or more—of these brighteners. They all work to help reveal a fresher complexion.
Want to avoid dark spots in the first place? Apply Christian Dior DiorSnow Sublissime Base SPF 50 ($46) every morning. It protects against UV rays, which can damage and dull your complexion, and brightens by reducing tyrosinase, the enzyme responsible for melanin production. It's also the lightest, most nongreasy SPF 50 we've tried.
Clinique Even Better Skin Tone Corrector ($40)
In addition to salicylic acid (to exfoliate skin's top layers), Clinique's brightener contains vitamins C and E as well as ferulic acid, all of which fight pigment-encouraging free radicals, plus a mushroom extract to minimize dark spots.
Murad Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Gel ($58)
Murad's product contains 2 percent hydroquinone—the highest dose of this melanin-inhibiting ingredient available over-the-counter. (Hydroquinone can irritate sensitive skin; start off using it once a day, then work up to twice a day.)
Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Scrub ($7)
The tiny, synthetic beads remove dead skin cells that can make your complexion uneven.
DDF Discoloration Reversal-Pod ($70 for 28)
Squeeze to release a single dose of skin-lightening antioxidants and niacin into the spongy, disc-shaped applicator. Then rub directly on dark spots.
Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Eye Treatment ($50)
Shiseido takes a three-pronged approach to treating dark circles. Vitamins C and E stimulate circulation (to help diminish shadows), beech-tree-shoot extract promotes collagen production, and a luminizing powder instantly makes the skin look more radiant.
Clarins Brightening Body Veil SPF 20 ($40)
Smooth on sun-exposed areas like shoulders and décolletage. A combination of chamomile, parsley, and birch helps even out skin tone by soothing irritation and inhibiting melanin, while glycerin moisturizes and light-reflective particles give a slight sheen.
SK-II Facial Treatment Mask ($85 for six)
The most luxurious way to brighten your complexion: Lie down and place this mask on your face for 15 minutes. The cotton cloth is soaked in vitamins C and B3, and Pitera, a yeast extract that encourages cell turnover.