Top 8 Skin Lightening Serum Reviews

Not so long ago, anything we would put on our skin as a moisturizer was either a cream or a lotion. In the past decade though, things have shifted in the beauty industry and masses of people have switched their devotion to silky, liquid serums instead.

Serums aren't just another recent fad − they're here to stay. Why? Because they offer perks that creams and lotions cannot compete with. And this is a really good thing, especially if you have acne-prone skin.

Serums are so popular because they leave out occlusive, airtight ingredients like petrolatum, lanolin and mineral oil - the sorts of ingredients found in creams and lotions meant to give them their creamy consistency.

Those are also the exact same ingredients that can block pores - hello, comedones and blemishes - and make your skin feel suffocated. That's why skin lightening serums are so much better than creams for those dealing with blemishes and acne-prone skin.

What’s more, the best whitening serum for face would also outperform a skin lightening cream based on intensity. Some serums are likely to give you the results you’re waiting for in a shorter time period than the best skin lightening cream.

Serums are also a godsend for all skin types since they replace those thick filler ingredients with powerful active ingredients composed of smaller molecules so they can penetrate your skin more deeply and more quickly.

The result? Your skin gets a direct dose of highly concentrated skin lightening ingredients minus the pore-clogging fillers.

Wondering what's the best skin lightening serum out there to get that potent dose of brightening and whitening? Get the list of our top picks below!

How to Pick the Best Skin Lightening Serum

In a market that’s oversaturated with all sorts of products, there’re traps to watch out for when choosing any skincare product. If you’re new to serums, take extra caution in choosing your first one to try. I’ve met too many people who gave up on serums all together because they ran into a poor first choice.

Let’s review the important steps to keep in mind when choosing the best skin lightening serum.

Ingredient List and Product Description Check

Just as with choosing a skin lightening cream, never buy anything without first looking at the ingredient list and reading the product description. No matter who recommends it to you, make sure to read the important stuff yourself. For one, because you might be allergic to some of the ingredients and this is something only you can know.

Another important reason why to read this yourself is to make 100% sure you aren’t getting any dose of dangerous skin lightening ingredients that can cause serious unwanted side effects.

Finally, the product description helps you choose between several equally good products based on subtle differences. For instance, make sure to give preference to products that are specifically formulated for your skin type. In the race for profit, some brands like to add the “good for all skin types” label. While this may very well be true, isn’t it more reassuring to have a formula designed with your specific skin type in mind?

What’s more, two skin lightening serums can both pack a high-quality skin lightening formula, but differ in the exact skin lightening needs they address and you can find this out only by carefully reading about the product. One focuses more on blemishes and age spots let’s say, while the other targets skin whitening. Which brings us to the next tip.

Know your Specific Skin Lightening Needs

Before delving in the ocean of skin lightening serums to pick your darling, ask yourself: are you sure what kind of skin ailment you’re addressing exactly? To pick the right skin brightening serum, you need to clearly define your goals first.

Do you have mature skin and are looking to even out skin tone, get rid of blemishes and fade dark spots? Then you should be searching in the category of age-defying skin lightening serums as these are likely to pack the bundle of benefits you need.

Do you have dark skin and are looking to get a several shades lighter skin tone? Or are you only looking to brighten your complexion and get that lit-from-within glow?  

We’ve written on the differences between skin lightening, skin brightening, and skin whitening and you can read more about it to make sure you’re clear on the terms.

Know the Most Effective Skin Lighteners

If you’re simply switching from a skin lightening cream to using a skin lightening serum, you should have this covered already. However, if you’re new in the skin lightening business, you should really first read on the different ingredients used for skin lightening, brightening and whitening to make sure you know what’s best for your needs.

All-natural Lighteners

Skin lighteners can range in intensity. You can go from the least potent, but fully natural ones. These are actually found in your kitchen cabinet. You can follow many useful recipes on how to use food products to whip up effective and mild lightening face masks or another type of treatment. Some of these ingredients include orange peel powder, papaya, lemon juice, even potatoes, and many others.

Natural-ingredients-based Skin Lightening Cosmetics

Then you can progress over to much more potent natural skin lighteners found in cosmetic creams and serums. These make the best option for most skin lightening goals. We’re talking about plant extracts and compounds extracted and mixed into a face product through complex lab procedures. So you can’t get them or use them at home for the most part.

Some in this category include Vitamin C, mulberry extract, azelaic acid, kojic acid, arbutin, licorice extract

Chemical Skin Lighteners

Finally, there are a few skin lightening ingredients that you need to be really careful with. While much more potent than skin lightening home remedies, these ingredients can make you pay a high price for the fast results they can deliver. Make sure you know everything there is to know about dangerous skin lightening ingredients and avoid them.

From the rest, the most common one that’s not exactly dangerous, but you should be careful with is called hydroquinone. Read about how to use hydroquinone product safely.

As we said, we strongly prefer the second category over the third one. We’ll be recommending you mainly natural skin lightening serums, but we’ll include some in the third category for diversity.

Amaira’s Natural Lightening Serum with Mulberry and Orchid Extract

Best for: Sensitive skin, lightening in intimate areas, long-term skin lightening

For all those who want to gently lighten their skin without the risk of irritation, here's an organic and all-natural skin lightening serum that gets the job done well.

First off, this is one of those products that you can definitely tell right away that it’s really natural. You open the tube and feel the scent – no offensive perfumes or chemical odor. You need to apply it on your face just once to immediately feel how gentle and soothing it acts on the skin.

So, besides its skin lightening properties, this is also an excellent moisturizer, when it comes to the sensitive skin type. And it isn’t one of those moisturizers I like to call “liquid plastics” – those that feel great upon application, but two hours later your skin is drier than ever.

This is no wonder, since the Amaira Natural lightening serum packs an impressive combination of botanical extracts and you can feel it works.

Okay, but what about the skin lightening, you ask. I’m getting there, just wanted to share my journey of discovering the powers of this hidden gem among the best skin lightening serums.

Well, after two months of using this product consistently, I can say that I more than recommend it! Let’s be clear from the outset - I’m not talking about miracles here. It takes time, patience and disciplined use, but it lightened dark spots better than most products I’ve tried.  

Free of any harsh chemicals and hydroquinone, Amaira has turned to the East for some advice on how to formulate a skin bleaching product. Ancient Japanese and Chinese herbs, used for years in this part of the world to keep ladies’ skin nice and milky, are whipped into a potent mix.

Its main active ingredient is mulberry extract, which is clinically proven to hold skin-beneficial properties. It also lightens the skin complexion by slowing down the production of tyrosinase by 50%. (Tyrosinase is the enzyme instrumental in the production of melatonin, which is the pigment that gives your skin color)

It’s a cruelty-free, 100% made-in-the-USA product and they offer a 60-day money back guarantee. More than recommended.

Ultimate Brightening Age Defy Serum

Best for: Brightening the complexion and smoothing out dull, uneven skin

best skin lightening serum

Ultimate Brightening Age Defy Serum, $25

This is another skin lightening serum that falls within the category of mostly natural skin lightening products.

It uses a cleverly potent mix of natural skin lighteners such as kojic acid and licorice root combined with gentle yet very effective exfoliants such as glycolic acid and salicylic acid. And this combination of AHAs and BHAs gives great results, especially to even out uneven skin tone and to add glow to your overall complexion.

Keep in mind, though, that this serum isn't going to make your skin several shades lighter – it doesn't contain enough of a concentration of skin lighteners to do that – but fading out dark spots and restoring your skin's youthful glow without any irritation or redness? It's perfect for that.

What’s best about natural skin lightening serums is the fact they give you long-lasting results. It may take longer to see results, but it also means you get solid results that will last longer. Just as with any other cosmetic concern, fast results involve risk. You should steer away from overnight skin lightening.

Ultra Potent Brightening Serum

Best for: Whitening dark spots and skin tone, fighting blemishes and acne

best skin lightening serum

Ultra Potent Brightening Serum, $23

If you're looking for a strong skin lightening serum that's affordable, this is it. Admire My Skin's Ultra Potent Brightening Serum does a lot more than brightening. And it's obvious why when you consider its ingredients.

For starters, this is a hydroquinone cream and it contains the maximum percentage allowed for over the counter hydroquinone - 2%. It also combines this with natural skin lighteners like kojic acid, azelaic acid and Vitamin C for extra potency.

On top of that, it even includes exfoliants in the form of both alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like lactic acid and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid.

All of the skin lightening ingredients and the combination of AHAs and BHAs make this Brightening Serum a very potent whitening product - but keep in mind that as effective as it is, it's also strong. So apply a teensy-tiny bit - a little is all you need! - and make sure to nourish your skin with moisturizing creams and protect it with sunscreen while you use this serum.

Side note: This lightening serum is ideal for those dealing with blemishes as well, thanks to acne-fighting salicylic acid and azelaic acid and the lack of pore-clogging ingredients.

Last note: your dark spots can turn even darker within a few days of using this serum but don't be alarmed - that darkened will soon start peeling off and you'll get lighter, brighter skin underneath.

EverFairy Skin Brightening Serum

Best for: Gently brightening and lightening hyperpigmentation

kojic acid products

Ever Fairy Bright On, $23

On the hunt for an effective and all natural skin lightening serum? Meet Ever Fairy's Skin Brightening Serum.

It's composed of a clever mix of natural skin lighteners as well as a heap of other skin care goodies, making it safe and suitable for all skin types, even if you have sensitive skin. It lightens and brightens with kojic acid and licorice extract. It hydrates and plumps with Hyaluronic acid and Aloe Vera. It replenishes and nourishes with Chinese Ginseng, Schisandra, Gotu Kola and a whole host of skin-boosting herbal ingredients.

And it’s got MSM which helps drive hyaluronic acid, kojic acid, and other brighteners straight to the deepest layers of your skin.

We especially love the fact that this serum is full of natural and organic ingredients and that it comes with a 90-day money back guarantee.

Eva Naturals Skin Whitening Serum

Best for: Brightening and lightening hyperpigmentation and overall skin tone

best skin lightening serum

Eva Naturals Skin Whitening Serum, $15

This natural skin whitening serum is the bee's knees for those with sensitive skin. Its main skin lightening ingredient is licorice root extract, which is one of the safest and gentlest bleaching agents on earth as well as a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

Its claim to skin lightening fame? It contains two compounds - glabridin and liquirtin, which is, in fact, licorice extract - that act as tyrosinase inhibitors and disrupt melanin synthesis to lighten skin with little to no irritation.

And for such a gentle ingredient, it's surprisingly effective. Studies have suggested that licorice root may be up to 75 times more effective than vitamin C in fading hyperpigmentation and in one study, topical 2% liquirtin was found to be significantly more effective at getting rid of melasma than 4% hydroquinone!

That's not all you get from this serum, though - it also contains stronecrop, a plant with nourishing and regenerating properties; a potent dose of B Vitamins for extra hydration; CoQ10 to promote collagen production; and even lactic acid to gently exfoliate dead skin cells and reveal lighter, brighter skin faster.

Image Skin Care Iluma Intense Bleaching Serum

Best for: Lightening both dark spots and overall skin tone

best skin lightening serum

Iluma Intense Bleaching Serum, $24

Image Skin Care has a great line of lightening products and their Intense Bleaching Serum doesn't disappoint. Just keep in mind that this is actually "intense" and not ideal for sensitive skin. After all, it does contain the most potent concentration of hydroquinone you can get over the counter.

And on top of the 2% hydroquinone, it's also packing natural skin lighteners like Azelaic acid, licorice root extract, and citric acid. As for exfoliants, it contains glycolic acid to help the skin lighteners penetrate deeper into your skin and to speed skin cell turnover, aka results.

We find this bleaching serum to be a slight bit gentler than Admire My Skin's Ultra Potent Brightening Serum (above), but it is still a potent serum so the same precautions apply: use very little, let your skin get used to it, nurture your skin with nourishing oils and moisturizers, and most importantly: never forget to wear sunscreen when you're going out.

Natural Escapes Anti-Aging Fading Serum

Best for: Anti-aging benefits and gently lightening dark spots

organic skin lightening products

Anti-Aging Fading Serum, $45

Got dry skin and fine lines? This is a great lightening and anti-aging serum in one. It's chock full of natural whitening ingredients like Orange extract and lemon extract, as well as Niacinamide, Retinol, licorice extract, Alpha Arbutin, and kojic acid.

That makes for a pretty solid mix of natural skin lighteners and exfoliants to help speed up the process. On top of all that, this Fading Serum gives a huge boost to dry skin with a deeply moisturizing base of organic Aloe Vera and avocado oil. That makes it perfect not only for those with dry skin but also for sensitive-skinned beauties who find kojic acid and Retinol too drying for their skin.

If you have oily skin, though, you might want to skip this one - avocado oil is pretty darn rich, after all.

Oh, and thanks to its rich emollient factor, this may look like a small bottle but a little goes a long way. You only need two pumps to cover your whole face so a bottle should last you around a month and a half, with daily use.

Herbal Nutrition Vitaderm C Plus Serum

Best for: Anti-aging benefits, mild dark spots lightening, and pore minimizing

Vitaderm C Plus Serum for your face uses one of the most researched and proven ingredients in modern skin care to create the ultimate anti-wrinkle serum. Vitamin C has been shown in numerous studies to increase collagen production, a significant factor for wrinkle reduction. We have harnessed this potent antioxidant in a powerful anti-aging serum that delivers brighter, healthier skin with improved tone and skin glow. This effective anti-wrinkle serum contains concentrated amounts of active ingredients. They also augment vitamin C with other synergistic extracts in a proprietary formula. You can trust Vitaderm C Plus to be effective and made with quality ingredients. You can trust Herbal Nutrition to stand behind all our products.

Clinically proven to brighten, firm and repair skin. Reduces fine lines, boosts collagen, fades age and sunspots. Balance your skin tone, target fine lines and prevent future formulation. Strengthens skin and encourages max hydration for a beautiful complexion.

This scientifically formulated serum contains the highest quality ingredients. Starting with 20% Vitamin C and complemented with the most effective amounts of Vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, Aloe, jojoba oil, rosemary, lemon & green tea extracts

It effectively fights the signs of aging skin! Plus, shrink pores, clear up acne, prevent breakouts, minimize the appearance of scars. Vitaderm C Plus will give you rejuvenated skin with a healthy, radiant glow.

Vitamin C along with our other extracts provide your skin with a maximum antioxidant defense. It helps defend skin from the environmental aging effects of pollution and harmful UV rays that damage and discolor the skin as we age.

Breylee’s Skin Whitening Facial Serum

Best for: skin brightening, dry skin and deep skin moisturization 

Last but not least, going back to the good ol’ Vitamin C. Vitamin C serums are more popular than any other type of serum and for a reason. Vitamin C has multiple skin benefits and it the best researched skin lightening ingredient.

This is a very solid skin lightening serum that also contains potent antioxidants to keep your skin safe from damage and aging. We’ve been impressed mainly with how well it moisturized dry skin! It contains

While in the beginning I couldn’t claim anything more than it amazingly hydrated my face, about two weeks into using it I started noticing differences. About the first positive change you’ll notice is how it minimizes the appearance of large pores. I had particularly prominent pores on my cheeks, near the nose area and on my forehead, so I could really tell a difference.

Other users also commented on the moisturizing properties and how well and quickly it absorbs into the skin. The brand also claims this product to be helping with firming fine lines and aiding the collagen synthesis for some age defying action. I can’t confirm or reject these claims based on my relatively short experience with this product. What I can definitely tell you is that my skin seemed happy while using it and with a visibly improved texture.

So in case you’re wondering why buy a skin lightening serum when we have plenty of Vitamin C in food stuff, Breylee explain that well. This serum contains ultra small molecules of Vitamin C so these goodies can penetrate in the deeper skin layers. This isn’t the case with Vitamin C coming from lemons or oranges.

Don’t expect immediate and drastic skin lightening, but you skin will definitely get brighter and the tone more even with consistent use. So, overall, as far as Vitamin C serums go, we believe you won’t be disappointed with this one.