What is uneven skin tone? And how to help manage it?


Uneven skin tone is a common skin care concern. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as sun exposure, ageing, and genetics. Fortunately, there are ways to manage it. 

What is uneven skin tone?

Texture and tone are two important aspects of skin care. Texture refers to the feel of your skin—for example, if your skin feels rough and bumpy—while tone refers to the colour of your skin.


Understanding the difference between uneven skin texture and skin tone may help you choose the right products for your skin type and achieve the best results.


What causes uneven skin tone?

Your skin gets its colour from a pigment called melanin. One of the main causes of uneven skin tone is pigmentation disorders, where your skin produces too much or not enough melanin. Too much melanin causes hyperpigmentation, and hypopigmentation is where you have too little melanin.


Hypopigmentation is often caused by infections of the skin, genetic conditions, or autoimmune disorders.


Hyperpigmentation has many causes including sun damage, injuries to the skin, certain medications, and breakouts and blemishes.


Finally, ageing can also cause uneven skin tone. As we age, our skin cells regenerate more slowly and our melanin production decreases, resulting in an uneven skin tone.


Let's take a closer look at these causes below.


Sun exposure

We all know that too much sun can be bad for our skin because it increases the risk of skin cancer. But did you know that ultraviolet (UV) rays can also cause uneven skin tone? When the sun's UV rays penetrate the skin, they can trigger the production of melanin, resulting in dark spots or patches.4 UV rays can also cause inflammation and can seriously damage skin cells,2 in addition to premature ageing and a loss of skin elasticity.


Cetaphil Healthy Radiance Brightening Day Protection Cream SPF 15 provides some protection from harmful UV rays and, when used twice daily along with Cetaphil Healthy Radiance Brightening Comfort Night Cream, is proven to reduce the appearance of dark spots on your face in four weeks.


Additionally, if you are going out in the sun for a prolonged period of time, you should consider a product with an SPF higher than 30, such as Cetaphil Daily Defence Moisturizer SPF50+, which protects against UVA and UVB rays. You should also make sure you apply enough sunscreen to protect your skin properly, and reapply it regularly.



Air pollution

Free radicals are unstable molecules that in small amounts are not necessarily harmful, but can cause damage to our bodies if we are overexposed to them. They are produced naturally by the body, but can also be produced by overexposure to UV radiation, cigarette smoke, and pollution.


The overproduction and accumulation of free radicals in the body is known as oxidative stress. This can cause premature skin ageing, wrinkles, and pigmentation spots. Free radicals can also damage the skin's natural barrier, and trigger inflammation and hyperpigmentation.

According to the World Health Organization, 93% of the world's population is affected by pollutants in the air, which is associated with a number of skin problems.


Luckily, our body produces antioxidants to protect against the effects of free radicals. In order to help protect our skin from the harmful effects of pollution some skin care products contain antioxidants and other supportive ingredients.


Skin inflammation

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a common skin condition that can occur after any type of inflammatory skin injury, such as a breakout, bug bite, burn, or cut. The injury triggers the overproduction of melanin, resulting in dark spots or patches on the skin. These spots can be any colour, but they are usually darker than the surrounding skin.


Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes can also cause some skin changes and lead to brown or greyish skin spots and patches, usually affecting the cheeks, chin, forehead, nose, and above the upper lip. Pregnancy and hormonal changes associated with menopause or taking birth control pills are regarded as common triggers.



As we age, our skin tone can become uneven. Sun damage can cause ‘age spots’ — brown spots and other discolouration on areas of our skin, which can range from several millimetres to a few centimeters.


Additionally, our skin’s collagen production, which is responsible for its elasticity and firmness, also decreases as we age. This is why wrinkles and fine lines start to form, and uneven tones are more noticeable.


Niacinamide is a type of vitamin B3 that can help with uneven skin tone and keep our skin looking healthy. It can also help with moisture loss, protecting the skin from environmental damage.10 Try Cetaphil Health Radiance Brightening Creamy Cleanser with Niacinamide, to help reveal a brighter, more radiant skin tone.

3 top tips to help prevent uneven skin tone

There are three important steps to include in your skin care routine to help you manage and prevent uneven skin tone.


1. Exfoliate

Exfoliation can help improve your skin's appearance by removing dead skin cells and revealing healthy, glowing skin underneath. Exfoliating can also help enhance your skin's texture and reduce the appearance of pores.


Want to get started with exfoliation? Try Cetaphil Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser.


2. Moisturise

It's important to moisturise your skin every day – it not only helps keep your skin healthy-looking, but it can also prevent dryness and flaking. Moisturisers can be used to keep your skin hydrated, help reduce fine lines, and improve the integrity of your skin's natural barrier.


For maximum effectiveness, choose a cream for dark spots and uneven skin tone, such as Cetaphil Healthy Radiance Brightening Day Protection Cream SPF 15. It contains Niacinamide and can help reduce the appearance of dark spots on your face, and can help boost your skin’s resilience.


At night, try Cetaphil Healthy Radiance Brightening Comfort Night Cream, which helps to reduce the appearance of dark spots and provides hydration to your skin for 8 hours.


3. Use sunscreen

Sunscreen is essential for protecting yourself from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays. It's also important to reapply regularly, and wear sunscreen even in cloudy weather.


You should also wear protective clothing and avoid being in the sun during peak hours. If you do find yourself in the sun, to keep your skin safe, choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to protect against UVB rays, and make sure your sunscreen has a UVA circle logo, such as Cetaphil Daily Defence Moisturiser SPF50+.


Additionally, if redness is a concern, try Cetaphil PRO Redness Prone Skin Tinted Moisturising Day Cream SPF 30, which contains SPF 30 and also helps conceal redness and even out an uneven skin tone on your face. If you experience redness on your skin, find out more about what causes skin redness and how to manage it.


The bottom line - skin care for uneven skin tone

Uneven skin tone is a common issue, and there are things you can do to help improve your skin’s appearance. Be sure to exfoliate, moisturise, and use sunscreen. If you’re looking for uneven skin tone products, check out Cetaphil Healthy Radiance products - with the right care you can achieve even, radiant skin!