Woman with even skin tone

What is an uneven skin tone?

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An uneven skin tone is essentially a broad term for skin that has fluctuations in colouring and texture, such as blotchiness, dry patches, hyperpigmentation and sun spots. Although it is difficult to achieve a perfectly even skin tone, it is possible to reduce the visibility of imperfections and protect your skin going forward.

What causes an uneven skin tone?

There are a multitude of factors that can lead to an uneven skin tone, most of which, sadly, are out of our control, however, it is still possible to reduce their effect.

Sun exposure

Forehead with visible age spots of a middle-aged person
Sun exposure can lead to age spots

Ultraviolet rays from the sun can be very damaging to your skin, potentially causing Sunburn - when UV rays have penetrated and damaged the skin. This can then lead to hyperpigmentation. Over time, unprotected exposure to the sun will cause your skin to develop sun spots (dark, freckle-like patches) which will make your skin tone uneven. You can learn more about how the sun affects the skin here.


Melasma causes dark patches of skin

Melasma is a variation of hyperpigmentation that is most common in women during or after pregnancy. It usually appears as dark patches on the skin, mostly on the face but can appear elsewhere as well. You can learn more about the causes and symptoms of melasma here.

Dry skin

Woman´s scaly forehead
Dry skin can become rough and even scaly, leading to an uneven skin tone

Dry skin affects many people and can be caused by both internal and external factors. A lack of moisture in the skin causes it to dry out and crack, which not only makes it very sore but causes the skin tone to appear uneven. Additionally, damaged skin will be patchy, ashen and discoloured compared to non-affected areas.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)

PIH often appears after an injury or following an inflammatory skin condition

This cause of an uneven skin tone occurs after a skin injury or inflammation, when the skin becomes discoloured or darkened once a wound has healed. It can affect men and women equally and often impacts those with blemish-prone skin, or have suffered with acne in the past. You can learn more about the causes and symptoms of PIH here.

Other skin conditions

Other reasons that contribute to uneven skin complexion can include inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema, past skin injuries such as infections, burns and blisters, and medication such as painkillers and birth control. These types of hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation may disappear with time and are unlikely to be affected by the treatments below.


Pollution is another factor that can affect skin that remains largely out of our control. Pollution particles can penetrate the skin, weakening the protective barrier and causing discolouration. Dark spots can also appear as a result of polluted air, particularly from traffic-related gases.

Uneven skin tone treatment

Creating a skincare routine befitting of your skin type and form of hyperpigmentation is essential to creating healthier, even skin. Below is a guide to the steps you should take to start this journey.

1. Cleanse

You should ideally cleanse your skin twice a day; once when you wake up in the morning and before going to bed. Cleansing will help even out your skin tone by breaking down the environmental factors, such as pollution, that try to penetrate your skin. It will also help to improve your skin clarity. Picking the right one for you can be difficult, but we have created a guide here to help.

2. Moisturise

Moisturising your face should also be done every day. This will help to fade dark spots and  replenish skin cells, evening out your skin tone and reducing signs of ageing. It also hydrates your skin to avoid any dryness, preventing the skin from cracking and becoming patchy. This is essential in your daily routine to improve overall skin health as well as even out your pigmentation. Explore the Eucerin range of day creams to find the right one for your skin type.

3. Exfoliate

This step enables cleansing and moisturising the skin to work effectively. Exfoliating twice a week scrubs away the dead or polluted skin cells, enabling the cleanser and moisturiser to penetrate and heal the epidermis (the outermost skin layer). Be sure not to over-exfoliate too harshly or too regularly, particularly if you have sensitive skin. Otherwise, you can risk scrubbing away healthy skin cells which may aggravate your uneven skin tone. Learn more about how to exfoliate.

4. Wear Sunscreen

Wearing sunscreen every day will not only protect you from sunburn on sunny days, but will also prevent your skin from photoageing (sun spots) and hyperpigmentation, and even skin cancer later on in life. Find which sunscreen is best for you in Eucerin’s tailored range.

Lifestyle changes that can help uneven skin tones

Whilst products can help treat the causes of uneven skin, there are also lifestyle changes you can make to help your skin stay healthy and even, which include:

Staying hydrated

Drinking plenty of water hydrates you inside and out and combined with a moisturiser, can help soothe skin and prevent redness and stop it from drying out. Learn more about dehydrated skin and the impact it plays on your skin tone here.

Eating cleaner, healthier foods

Diet plays a very important role in pigmentation. A cleaner, healthier diet will help clear uneven skin tones, and unhealthy, processed foods will likely contribute to skin concerns.

High citrus foods such as oranges and berries, and foods rich in Omega 3 such as tuna and salmon help diminish hyperpigmentation and repair skin cells.

Green vegetables are high in vitamins B and E which help fight against age spots and protect your skin.

On the other hand, plenty of food and drink types can contribute to hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. Greasy foods like chips and foods high in refined sugar can affect your pigmentation. Spicy foods can increase the redness on your face and high amounts of alcohol can dilate your blood vessels leaving you with a flushed face. 

Obviously, a balanced diet is very important so there is no need to cut these foods out entirely, but it is important to understand the effects that they can have on our bodies.

Exercising regularly

Exercising regularly increases blood flow, which helps nourish skin cells and removes toxins from the skin. Contrary to popular belief exercise is good for the skin overall, and can help to relieve symptoms of other conditions like acne.

There are plenty of ways that you can fix your uneven skin tone. Patience is required, because this isn’t something that will be fixed overnight. However, if you take care of your skin and body, over time you will see your skin become clearer, smoother and more even in tone.

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