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Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Review: Vitamin C to Fix Hyperpigmentation

The best Vitamin C Serum for anti-aging and hyperpigmentation

During my pregnancy my hormones contributed to a hyperpigmentation issue I had only barely heard of, melasma. The areas of darkness under my eyes were pretty resistant to treatment, especially since some of the best active ingredients to fix hyperpigmentation are not safe to use during pregnancy.

My melasma

Yes, those spots are my melasma. These really fun, amazing pics of my skin (OMG, can’t believe I’ve posted these) are me, in macro last week. I have Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery on my face, and that is it. No makeup, no retouching (other than fixing a strange color cast in one of the pics).

You can see my areas of hyperpigmentation on my cheek bones, on both sides. Also any uneven tone issues, and a few freckles. I am pretty proud that I don’t have wrinkles really, I think I look good for 34!

How clearly corrective works

Clearly Corrective is based primarily around “Activated C”, a new Vitamin C derivative (read more about how Vitamin C works in skin care).

The Vitamin C in Clearly Corrective has been photostabilized, meaning it is much harder to inactivate in sunlight, which makes this product particularly interesting. There are also White Birch and Peony Extract in the formula.

The idea is that the ingredient is able to penetrate the skin quickly and easily where it helps to work against discolorations and prevent new ones from forming. And, remember that bit about how Vitamin C only affects the pigmentation in areas where there are issues? That means that you can use this product all over your face without worry. It will take care of all your little pigmentation problems and you won’t need to be concerned about it lightening everything else up.

Other things that make this product interesting:

1) It is 100% bioavailable. Meaning, what you put on the skin is the fully available for use. Most drugs that I use in the hospital aren’t even 100% bioavailable.

2) There is no activation needed. Frequently skin care products contain ingredients that need to not only travel to their site of activity, but that need to be activated by your body once there. This is the active form, so it starts working sooner and there is more active form to work.

3) This formula penetrates the skin to slow melanin production. Then it helps to prevent melanin from clustering together and becoming areas of pigmentation, helps slow down the transfer of melanin to the skin surface (where it becomes visible), AND it helps to break apart any clusters of melanin already hanging out on the skin surface.

4) Formula allows continual use! This product is gentle enough to be used by even those with sensitive skin year round.

According to Kiehl’s:

ā€¢ 2 weeks: 55% of women have a reduction in dark spot intensity
ā€¢ 4 weeks: 69% of women have reduction in dark spot intensity and 74% have a reduction in acne scarring. Reduction in other skin discolorations in 69%.
ā€¢ 8 weeks: 87% have more uniform skin tone.

does kiehl's clearly corrective work?

My results

You can see after almost 2 months of use that my melasma is basically gone from my right upper cheek and it is diminished on my left upper cheek. Overall I do feel that my skin is brighter, and those other residual spots that you still see are my freckles, which no, will not fade with using Clearly Corrective. I actually like them, so this makes me happy. I think they might be a bit more obvious after using Clearly Corrective.

So, would I recommend Clearly Corrective? I think it depends on the use. If you have age spots or hyperpigmentation that is wide spread or you are worried about using a hyperpigmentation treatment product in one spot (because sometime things around the treated area will get lighter and then everything looks worse), then yes, this is a great product for you.

You can buy Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective at Sephora or Kiehl’s.

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About Me

Iā€™m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

Leave a Comment


  1. 1.24.12
    Tere said:

    Hmm… I'm very much interested. I also suffer from hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. I'll wait for you verdict šŸ™‚

  2. 1.27.12

    I will totally be following this series Christine! I have a few dark spots from pregnancy myself so am quite curious to see your results!

  3. 1.28.12

    I so need this in my life!!!! think i'll make a trip to this weekend. thanks for sharing!

  4. 4.18.18
    Mpho said:

    Do you have remedy for pigmentation

    • 4.18.18
      15mins said:

      There’s no fast remedy, but sunscreen, vitamin C and hydroquinone. I’ve been working on a more comprehensive post!

  5. 8.9.19
    Julie said:

    Hi thank you for all the work you have done and continue to do in this space. It would be never ending, but you help thousands. Thank you so much.

    I’m in the processing of reviewing all my products and skincare regime, however I’m a little confused with Vitamin C.

    The Kiehl product you mention has salicylic Acid, which I thought was a no-no.
    Ingredients: Aqua/Water, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., PEG/PPG/Polybutylene Glycol-8/5/3 Glycerin, Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, PPG-6-Decyltetradeceth-30, Phenoxyethanol, Salicylic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Potassium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lavandula Angustifolia Oil/Lavender Oil, Disodium EDTA, Adenosine, Linalool, Butylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Citrus Aurantium Tachibana Peel Extract, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract.

    Could you please advise if what I’m currently using still suitable during pregnancy? I tried researching each ingredient but when one is a derivative of hydroquinone I kinda get lost.

    Deciem – Booster Series – Hylamide C25
    Ingredients: Propanediol, Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Hydroxyphenoxy Propionic Acid, Phenylethyl Resorcinol.

    • 8.10.19
      15mins said:

      My blog isn’t only devoted to pregnancy beauty. This post was AFTER my first daughter was born, not while pregnant. I did not say this was pregnancy safe or that I had used it during pregnancy in this post, and the Clearly Corrective product reviewed here and in fact the entire collection is not pregnancy safe, as you can see in my post of pregnancy safe products from Kiehl’s.