Once you've taken steps to prevent additional breakouts, you should incorporate spot-fading ingredients into your routine. One of the most common is hydroquinone, but before you jump for products with the potent additive, be careful. "It gets a bad reputation because in a lot of countries, especially a lot of Caribbean and African countries, people are using it excessively," she said.
"You're only supposed to use it for a short period of time. When you use it consistently, you can get something called ochronosis, which is the permanent darkening of the skin and the exact opposite of what you want it to do."
Dr. Henry explained that mixing hydroquinone with topical steroids to increase its potency is common in foreign countries. "These dangerous mixtures can cause unwanted stretch marks and give the skin an orange tint. So I would definitely recommend using it sparingly and talking to your doctor first," she said.
If you can't make it to a doctor's office, she suggests using products with vitamin C (like SkinMedica Lytera Skin Brightening Complex $130) to lighten spots. Don't forget to test all new products and prescriptions on soft patches of skin to get an idea of how you'll react to it before applying all over your face.