miracle worker dark spot corrector (Discontinued)
1 fl. oz. for $64
Category:Skin Care > Retinol Products > Lighteners Without Hydroquinone
Last Updated:12.08.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

More and more cosmetic companies are launching products claiming to treat brown spots and other discolorations from sun damage and acne. Most don’t work all that well or contain problematic ingredients, so it was a pleasant surprise to find philosophy’s Miracle Worker Dark Spot Corrector to be a great contender with ingredients backed by published research.

The lightweight, fragrance-free hydrating lotion texture contains several ingredients capable of interrupting the process that causes brown spots to form and stick around. Chief among them is niacinamide, but others include two forms of stabilized vitamin C, some great antioxidants, and a novel ingredient known as undecylenoyl phenylalanine. This white powder is composed of amino acids and appears to work by interfering with the pathways in skin that cause excess melanin production (melanin is what these spots are made of). Concentrations of at least 2% are needed for noticeable results, and that appears to be in line with what philosophy used in this product. Other research has shown that this ingredient works even better when combined with niacinamide, which is the case here (Sources: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, September 2011, pages 189–196 and December 2009, pages 260–266; and Clinical Experiments in Dermatology, July 2010, pages 473–476).

In addition to the skin lightening and brightening ingredients, this contains several repairing ingredients to bring about further improvements in skin tone and texture. And it is packaged to ensure the ingredients remain stable during use, which is precisely what you want (and especially at this price).

Suitable for all skin types except very oily, Miracle Worker Dark Spot Corrector ranks among philosophy’s best products. It deserves strong consideration if your skin is unable to tolerate the gold standard lightening active hydroquinone (whether over-the-counter or prescription).

Keep in mind that as with any skin lightening product, daily use of a well formulated sunscreen rated SPF 15 or greater (and greater is better) is a must to prevent existing brown spots from becoming worse and to stop new brown spots from appearing.

  • Contains a very good blend of skin lightening ingredients backed by published research.
  • Treats skin to several antioxidants and repairing ingredients for overall improvement.
  • Packaged to ensure multiple key ingredients remain stable during use.
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Expensive.

Seeing spots? Work miracles with this product's innovative, clinically-proven skin brightening technology. Designed to visibly improve the appearance of skin discoloration associated with age spots, acne scarring, and sun damage, this treatment helps to reveal a more uniform complexion.


Water, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Behenyl Alcohol, Niacinamide, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Olivate, Hexyldecanol, Sorbitan Olivate, Butylene Glycol, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Ascorbyl Linoleate, Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine, Hexylresorcinol, Phenylethyl Resorcinol, Resveratrol, Tocopheryl Ferulate, Ethyl Linoleate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cychohexasiloxane, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterols, Safflower Glyceride, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Rumex Occidentalis Extract, Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Sterols, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Linoleic Acid, Phospholipids, Bisabolol, Cetylhydroxyproline Palmitamide, Arginine, Heptapeptide-12, Beta-Glucan, Retinyl Palmitate, Lysolecithin, Methyl Dihydroxybenzoate, Disodium EDTA, Stearic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol

Brand Overview

philosophy At-A-Glance

Strengths: Relatively inexpensive; some of the best products are fragrance-free; very good retinol products; selection of state-of-the-art moisturizers; innovative skin-lightening product.

Weaknesses: Irritating and/or drying cleansers; average to problematic scrubs; at-home peel kits far more gimmicky than helpful; several products contain lavender oil; several products include irritating essential oils; the majority of makeup items do not rise above average status.

Believe in miracles. That's the "lifestyle" branding statement philosophy makes, which is an approach that is decidedly different from their former positioning, which encompassed family values and spirituality along with a dash of department-store élan and endearingly clever quips. The miracle angle may grab your attention, but the company is also quick to point out that its history is steeped in providing products to dermatologists and plastic surgeons worldwide (so, in addition to miracles, philosophy has a serious side, too). Although its heritage may have included providing clinically oriented products to doctors, we have yet to see or hear of any medical professional retailing philosophy products. And that's a good thing because, by and large, most of philosophy products are resounding disappointments. Moreover, several products, including almost all of their sunscreens, contain one or more known skin irritants. We would be extremely suspicious of a dermatologist or plastic surgeon who recommended such products to their patients, and even more so if they actually believed some of the more farfetched claims philosophy makes.

Interestingly, when you shop this line at department stores or at the cosmetics boutique Sephora, what you'll notice is the preponderance of food- and drink-scented bath products, all in vivid colors or cutely boxed for gift-giving. It seems that somewhere along the way, the company decided to promote these nose-appeal products while downplaying their more serious-minded, simply packaged skin care. Perhaps the body lotions and bubble baths have become philosophy's bread and butter. Given the hit-or-miss nature of their facial-care products, that's not surprising. Then again, they've also heavily promoted their anti-aging-themed Miracle Worker products...

So what's to like if you're into the vibe philosophy puts out? Well, this is still a line with some well-formulated staples, including an AHA product, some retinol options, and a handful of state-of-the-art moisturizers. The products that get the most promotion at the counter are the ones you should avoid, such as the at-home peels, scrubs, pads, and anti-acne products. However, the somewhat confusing, conflicting image philosophy presents shouldn't keep you from considering their best products—but it's not a lifestyle brand in the sense that using the entire line will somehow bring you a more joyful existence, or significantly improved skin. The philosophy line is now owned Coty, a cosmetics brand primarily known for their fragrances. Their acquisition of philosophy is their first major foray into a widely-distributed skin care brand.

For more information about philosophy, call (800) 568-3151 or visit www.philosophy.com.

Note: philosophy opts to use lowercase letters for every product they sell, so the listings below are simply following suit.

philosophy Makeup

Minimalism is a big theme among philosophy's dwindling, uneven range of makeup. Whereas the color options from this company used to be extensive, well-organized, and at times clever, what's lining the counter now needs help, in more ways than one. The major issue is the plethora of ordinary products that cost far too much for what they don't offer, which is innovation and, in almost every case, selection. The line shines brightest (pun intended) with its lip color offerings, though the best products in this category are counterbalanced by glosses or lip balms with needless irritants. If you're a fan of philosophy's skin-care products and are considering their makeup, you don't want to try to build a comprehensive color wardrobe with it. However, you'd be wise to explore the handful of pleasant surprises here, including an excellent bronzing lotion, foundation primer with sunscreen, and the multi-use makeup brush.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula Begoun herself.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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Can't say this cream did a thing for me in terms of reducing brown spots which is very disappointing given the price tag of the product. I have been using it daily for about 4 months. I wouldn't even say it still functions as a good moisturiser, it's pretty average on that front. I would avoid this product and go instead for the Paula's Choice Resist Skin Transforming Multi-Correction Treatment with Azelaic Acid + BHA which did work for me.

Reviewed by
too much!

I used this for two weeks in addition to the Booster C and 1. its very sticky and makes you look like a umpa lumpa. 2. it gave me a big white patch under my eye and a couple deep wrinkles I didnt have before. I'm not sure if I used them incorrectly or too much but my skin is now damaged. Be very careful using these products. I think they make them very strong and it can do some damage.

Reviewed by
paola m.
sensitive skins use caution

This product is very effective and I noticed results immediately. However, with my sensitive skin I did have a reaction and discontinued using it all over the face even though the instructions recommend it as one of the options. Those with sensitive skin should spot treat first to see how their skin will react. I use it as a spot treatment because my skin gets red and irritated if I use all over the face. The PC Skin Recovery products reversed the irritation so the effects were not long term

Reviewed by

I feel confused as Paula highly recommends this but reading people's reviews on multiple different platforms of consumer's actual experiences it got pretty poor reviews... Not sure if I should try or not at this point...

Reviewed by
Erika D
Paula's Choice Research Team Response

Thanks for your comments! This is one reason we don't review products in the same manner. When someone doesn't like a product what's often unknown are what else they used, how long they used the product, and how consistent they were with application. With any skin-lightening product, people tend to forget that sunscreen is an essential part of the equation. Daily sunscreen use, not occasionally. No matter how good the lightening product is, if the person using the product is not diligent about daily sun protection, you can't blame the lightening product for not working. That being said, not every lightening product will work the same for everyone, and some people need to give it more time (at least 3 months of daily use).

A real miracle worker

I got a sample of this "miracle worker" from Sephora after reading Paula's review. I was surprised to say the least. I noticed a difference overnight! My skin appeared more even toned than it had the day before and continued to even out as i used up the sample. I was a little concerned with the slightly creamy to oily finish of this product and my combo acne prone skin but there were no negative results. The only downside to this lotion is the price! Too expensive, trying out a PC product now.

Reviewed by
Kimberley P.
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