Musely Spot Cream Review

Can this prescription dark spot treatment help your hyperpigmentation concerns?

Last updated: Apr 29th, 2024
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Musely Spot Cream Header

Photo by Innerbody Research

Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition that appears in many forms — freckles, sun spots, and melasma, to name a few. But, while it’s considered a “harmless” condition, that doesn’t take into account the effects it can have on your mental health. Research has shown that hyperpigmentation can lead to distress and other quality-of-life impacts, like embarrassment, frustration, and a sense of reduced freedom.

These impacts lead many people with hyperpigmentation of all kinds to search for a treatment. And, even though it’s a lifelong condition that can’t be outright cured (yet), there are many options available for reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation and decreasing further production of pigment. One such treatment option is The Spot Cream from the telehealth company Musely. With online prescriptions for five formulations available, the company aims to make hyperpigmentation treatment accessible and flexible.

Our team got hands-on with Musely’s Spot Cream and analyzed its efficacy, safety, cost, and convenience to help you determine if it’s the right option for you.

Our Findings

Editor's Rating4.15


  • Can treat melasma, sun spots, age spots, acne scarring, or freckles on the face
  • Available in five formulations, including two free of hydroquinone
  • Ingredients have plenty of research suggesting efficacy in treating hyperpigmentation
  • First 60 days of treatment include unlimited online consultations with your Musely dermatologist
  • Relatively cost-effective versus competitors
  • 60-day “Result Guarantee” for most products (Spot Cream included)
  • Recurring subscriptions take 30% off


  • Hydroquinone has risk of severe side effects with long-term use
  • Two formulations contain high amount of hydroquinone (12%), increasing risk of adverse reactions
  • Only for use on the face; other areas of the body have separate Musely products
  • The guarantee requires consistent use of the app with regular eNurse check-ups
  • Initial order adds on a $20 doctor visit fee

The Spot Cream from Musely has five formulas to choose from, and a majority of the ingredients appear at effective (or higher) concentrations than seen in successful research. Subscriptions make this prescription skincare service much more affordable, and you’ll get to have unlimited consultations with your assigned dermatologist for the first 60 days of your treatment. However, while The Spot Cream is generally safe, one of the high-strength ingredients in a few of the formulas is hydroquinone, which could rarely lead to some serious health risks. And while Musely’s 60-day Result Guarantee sounds generous, it’s quite strict and requires a commitment to regular mobile app check-ins. Because it requires a consultation and prescription, The Spot Cream is only available from Musely itself.

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Why you should trust us

Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.

For our review of The Spot Cream from Musely, we reviewed over 50 research studies, journals, clinical trials, and all types of scientific material on hyperpigmentation and its most common and effective treatments. Besides researching, our testers also signed up for Musely and went through the entire process to evaluate the customer experience and bring you all the details — from browsing the company website and completing the intake survey to trying out The Spot Cream the day it showed up at their door.

Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

How we evaluated Musely’s Spot Cream

To evaluate The Spot Cream, we considered factors that we felt would be the most important to consumers seeking this kind of treatment. Effectiveness came first, followed closely by safety, cost, and convenience.

When you’re seeking a way to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation, then just how well a given treatment can actually do that comes first, but the safety of said treatment is also paramount — some skin-lightening products on the market contain dangerous ingredients, like mercury. Cost matters, too; if a product is too expensive, you won’t be able to keep up with the routine necessary for seeing results. And finally, convenience acts as a bonus in this case, potentially helping your new treatment fit more easily into your daily life.


Rating: 9.4 / 10

If you’re struggling with hyperpigmentation concerns, you probably already know that it can affect your quality of life. In a 2017 clinic-based survey, 60% of patients with postinflammatory hyperpigmentation due to acne reported that it had a major impact on at least one aspect of the Acne Quality of Life survey scale. And 100% of patients with melasma in a 2018 pilot study reported “a significant negative effect on their quality of life and self-esteem.”

But in that same 2018 study, all participants experienced “a marked improvement in self-esteem” following successful treatment. This result highlights just how important an effective treatment for hyperpigmentation can be — and Musely’s Spot Cream seems poised to be one.

Unlike products from competitor companies, like Hers, Wisp, and Civant, Musely offers five different formulations of The Spot Cream, each with its own blend of ingredients. The right blend of ingredients is important in treating concerns like melasma, as it can be treatment-resistant and require combination therapy (multiple drugs or approaches). A common combination is hydroquinone, a retinoid, and a steroid (as seen in the M+ Spot Cream formula).

The star ingredient in three out of five formulas is hydroquinone, with azelaic acid taking its place in the two hydroquinone-free varieties. We cover the other ingredients in these formulas later on, but both hydroquinone and azelaic acid have shown great promise in studies for treating hyperpigmentation, particularly melasma. In one study, 4% hydroquinone reduced the appearance of melasma by 76.9%. And a systematic review of research on azelaic acid found that a 20% concentration led to “significantly better results” on melasma versus 2% hydroquinone.

These ingredients can also be found in competitor products, like the hydroquinone in Wisp’s prescription creams or the azelaic acid in the Hims and Hers custom acne and anti-aging prescriptions.


Rating: 8.2 / 10

Overall, The Spot Cream formulas should be a safe choice for most healthy adults when used as directed by your Musely dermatologist. And the ingredients of the HQ Free formula — such as azelaic acid and vitamin C — appear to be safe for those who are pregnant or nursing (but it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor beforehand to make sure).

Found in three out of five formulas, hydroquinone does come with various risks, including some serious ones (like ochronosis, a permanent bluish-gray discoloration of the skin). We delve further into these potential side effects in the full section dedicated to safety further down, but the serious side effects of hydroquinone are pretty rare and most often happen after long-term use. However, there isn’t much research on 12% hydroquinone (as used in some Musely Spot Cream formulas) — including on its safety.

Thankfully, Musely clarifies in its FAQ that your assigned dermatologist will likely have you cycle off of hydroquinone after about four months, either having you go treatment-free for a bit or trying out one of the hydroquinone-free creams. Wisp’s hydroquinone cream treatment guide lays out a similar plan, stating, “You will cycle on for a maximum of 4 months use of hydroquinone followed by at least a 2 month break to cycle off.”

If the potential side effects concern you, and you’d prefer a prescription-free alternative, an over-the-counter product like Meladerm may be ideal.


Rating: 7.9 / 10

If you look at the one-time purchase price of many Musely products, including The Spot Cream, you wouldn’t be alone in thinking they seem a bit expensive; the single-purchase cost for a 2-month supply of The Spot Cream is $96 (no matter the formula).

While a one-time purchase of The Spot Cream does indeed feel expensive, nearly all of Musely’s prescriptions are intended to be used long-term — meaning that most people are likely to turn to the subscription option. This is where The Spot Cream becomes much more affordable at $67 (30% off) for a 2-month supply delivered every two months. And since you can cancel your subscription at any time without penalty, we recommend subscribing even if you only want to try it out once. Meanwhile, competitor service Wisp doesn’t offer a subscription; its 5% hydroquinone creams are only available as one-time prescriptions for $90 (a 3-month supply).

No matter which avenue you choose to purchase The Spot Cream, you will still be charged the initial $20 doctor fee, bringing the one-time cost to $116 and your first subscription delivery to $87. This fee covers your virtual exam, custom prescription, and 60 days (the initial treatment period) of unlimited consultations with your Musely dermatologist. In contrast, the consultations for Hims and Hers are free.

Additionally, Musely, like Wisp, doesn’t charge sales tax, ships your items for free, and accepts HSA/FSA as payment via reimbursement (you can request detailed invoices and copies of your prescriptions). However, we recommend checking with your plan first, just to make sure it’ll be covered or reimbursed.

Other competing products, like the OTC option Meladerm, cost a similar amount as The Spot Cream but without the use of prescription ingredients or the support of a physician. A one-time purchase of a single bottle of Meladerm (a 7-week supply) costs $68 — a dollar more than a 2-month subscription of The Spot Cream.


Rating: 7.4 / 10

Overall, Musely’s Spot Cream is a convenient product to use. The instructions are clear and straightforward, and the Musely app provides detailed dos and don’ts for making your treatment as smooth an experience as possible.

With a subscription, you’ll receive The Spot Cream every two months by default, but you can adjust or cancel this plan at any time without penalty.

However, two things stood out to us as inconvenient. The first is the 60-day guarantee (a policy four times the length of Wisp’s). While this may sound like a nice policy, it does require you to use the Musely app and complete the eNurse check-ins. At first, these check-ins are daily, but they eventually become 20-, 40-, and 60-day check-ins.

When not required daily, it can be easy to forget to complete these check-ins (even with app notifications). And, as noted in Musely’s policy, “The 60-Day Result Guarantee requires completion of the eNurse check-up program & consistent use of medication for 60 days.” Success is only guaranteed when the eNurse program is completed, meaning missing one day could make you ineligible for a refund.

Musely Spot Cream Review 60 Day Guarantee

Photo by Innerbody Research

This is made worse by the fact that you can not make up for missed days. Once the clock strikes midnight, your chance to complete the day before is over. Because of this, we highly recommend doing your eNurse tasks in the morning, not at night.

The second inconvenience only applies to those seeking multiple Musely prescriptions. This is most likely due to the fact that each prescription is compounded instead of being sold as a pre-manufactured product, but we received our various Musely items at different times — not as one shipment. For our testers, there were a couple of weeks between the first product arriving and the final one.

What is Musely’s Spot Cream?

Musely Spot Cream Review Bottle Box

Photo by Innerbody Research

The Spot Cream, from the telehealth company Musely, is a prescription cream designed to treat various types of hyperpigmentation (darker than normal skin) on the face, including:

  • Melasma
  • Sun or age spots
  • Acne scars
  • Freckles

This cream is available in five different formulations, each with its own unique combination of ingredients. Three contain hydroquinone as the main component, while the other two utilize azelaic acid in its place. From the strongest formula to the mildest, the options are:

  • M+: Hydroquinone (12%), kojic acid (6%), hydrocortisone (2.5%), niacinamide (2%), tretinoin (0.05%)
  • Erase: Hydroquinone (12%), kojic acid (6%), hydrocortisone (2.5%), niacinamide (2%)
  • Nurture: Hydroquinone (6%), niacinamide (2%), vitamin C (1%)
  • HQ Free+: Azelaic acid (10%), tranexamic acid (6%), kojic acid (6%), niacinamide (2%)
  • HQ Free: Azelaic acid (20%), kojic acid (6%), niacinamide (2%), vitamin C (1%)

The Spot Cream is intended to be used on the face only. For other areas of the body, Musely offers different prescription creams for the neck, body, and private areas.

The remaining “The Spot” products from Musely include The Spot Pill (225mg tranexamic acid) and The Spot Peel (available with or without hydroquinone). These may make good supplements to your Spot Cream regimen, but it's a good idea to discuss these additions with your Musely dermatologist beforehand to make sure they’re right for you.

Who is The Spot Cream for?

Musely’s Spot Cream is a prescription cream designed for those struggling with certain types of hyperpigmentation on their face, such as melasma, sun or age spots, acne scarring, or freckles. Because the cream is available in multiple formulations, some with hydroquinone and some without, it should be a good choice for a wide variety of people seeking treatment for hyperpigmentation.

The Spot Cream has the potential to treat multiple types of hyperpigmentation, but it may be particularly effective for melasma. This condition can be resistant to treatment and often requires combination therapy. A commonly prescribed combination is hydroquinone, a retinoid, and a steroid — three components of the M+ Spot Cream formula.

Additionally, Musely offers a formula specifically for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding (HQ Free). These ingredients (azelaic acid, kojic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin C) appear to be safe during pregnancy and while nursing, but we still recommend speaking with your doctor first to make sure it’s safe for your unique case.

Who should look elsewhere?

While Musely’s Spot Cream may be a good choice for many people, it might not be an ideal option in all cases.

  • If your hyperpigmentation is particularly severe or widespread, it may be best to see a dermatologist in person.
  • For those who’d prefer an over-the-counter option, products like Meladerm may be a better fit.
  • If you want to treat current acne outbreaks while also treating hyperpigmentation, then the Acne Cream from Hims and Hers contains brightening agents and ingredients for treating active acne, like clindamycin.

Is The Spot Cream safe?

The Spot Cream should generally be safe when used as directed by your Musely dermatologist. Common side effects for many of the ingredients in the various Spot Cream formulas include things like dry, peeling, burning, or tingling skin. These should go away as your skin adjusts to the treatment, though.

The biggest risks of The Spot Cream come from hydroquinone, which two formulas (M+ and Erase) contain at a high strength of 12%. Most studies examining the effectiveness and safety of hydroquinone have used 2-5%, meaning there isn’t much research at all about hydroquinone at a 12% concentration — more than double the usual. The only research we could find using 12% hydroquinone was a small pilot study focused on efficacy, not safety.

The 6% hydroquinone found in Nurture is also above the usual range, and the minimal research available on this strength has suggested that it may improve severe melasma, but it could also possibly lead to ochronosis (permanent blue-black or gray discoloration of the skin) after long-term use.

Insider Tip: If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, the only potentially safe Spot Cream formula that Musely offers is HQ Free (the one without the “+”). We still recommend discussing this treatment with your doctor first, though.

In general, the risks and side effects of hydroquinone can range from mild (like irritation and redness) to severe. These rare but severe side effects include:

  • Ochronosis
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Liver damage
  • A potentially higher risk of cancer (acute myeloid leukemias and skin cancers)

It’s worth reiterating that severe side effects from hydroquinone are very rare — and they’re more likely to be found in those who use it over an extended period. However, a 2007 study notes that ochronosis has been seen when hydroquinone is used in low concentrations (as low as 2%) over a long period (10-20 years) or when used in high concentrations for a shorter length of time (a year or two).

In 2006, the FDA banned the sale of over-the-counter hydroquinone products after receiving serious side effect reports. This is a more lenient ban than that seen in international locations like Australia, Japan, and the European Union, which have banned hydroquinone entirely. However, multiple dermatology experts have argued that the FDA’s ban was (and is still) too extreme, with some claiming its conclusions were incorrectly based on results seen from oral hydroquinone administration in mice and rats.

Fortunately, Musely explains in its FAQ that your dermatologist will likely want you to cycle off of a hydroquinone formula after around four months of use. Your Musely dermatologist may recommend going treatment-free for a bit or swapping to one of the hydroquinone-free formulas to reduce the risk of side effects. Similar reasoning may be why telehealth competitor Wisp doesn’t offer a recurring subscription to its hydroquinone products.

After stopping a hydroquinone formula for a break, your skin might need to readjust when (or if) your dermatologist feels it’s necessary for you to start again. This may mean having to wait out some familiar irritation and redness. If you have a bothersome reaction that won’t let up, it’s a good idea to reach out to your Musely dermatologist.

How does The Spot Cream work?

It’s difficult to succinctly yet accurately describe how The Spot Cream works. This is because Musely’s Spot Cream has five different formulations, each with its own combination of ingredients in various concentrations. Technically, this means each formula works in a unique way.

Musely Spot Cream Review Hqfreeplus Ingredients

Photo by Innerbody Research

The simplest explanation is that M+, Erase, and Nurture use hydroquinone as the main ingredient to treat hyperpigmentation, while HQ Free and HQ Free+ utilize azelaic acid in its place. And each formula contains a mixture of its main ingredient and other potentially effective skin-lightening agents to reduce the appearance of dark spots. This simplification doesn’t do the formulas justice, though; it’s worthwhile to analyze how each component works independently or in combination with the others.

Before breaking down how each component works, let’s quickly clarify what ingredients are in each formula and at what strengths.


Hydroquinone (12%), kojic acid (6%), hydrocortisone (2.5%), niacinamide (2%), tretinoin (0.05%)


Hydroquinone (12%), kojic acid (6%), hydrocortisone (2.5%), niacinamide (2%)


Hydroquinone (6%), niacinamide (2%), vitamin C (1%)

HQ Free+

Azelaic acid (10%), tranexamic acid (6%), kojic acid (6%), niacinamide (2%)

HQ Free

Azelaic acid (20%), kojic acid (6%), niacinamide (2%), vitamin C (1%)

Several of these ingredients can be found in competing products, as well. For instance, Hims and Hers prescription skincare products also contain azelaic acid, tretinoin, niacinamide, and tranexamic acid.

Now, before delving into the majority of the ingredients, let’s pivot to how hydroquinone — the star component of Musely’s M+, Erase, and Nurture — works.

How hydroquinone works

Since we covered the safety concerns of hydroquinone in the safety-focused section above, we won’t dwell too much on that topic here (but the potential risks, like ochronosis, are still worth considering).

To put it simply, the way hydroquinone treats hyperpigmentation is by inhibiting tyrosinase, the enzyme responsible for the production of melanin. Normally, tyrosinase kickstarts the conversion of the amino acid tyrosine into melanin precursors, but hydroquinone disrupts this cycle by basically taking tyrosine’s place. This leads to lower or no melanin production in the area where hydroquinone is applied. The drug also has other effects on melanin, such as drastically changing the structure of melanin-producing cells — it makes them smaller and more dendritic (they grow more branches than normal). However, the main mechanism of action is the inhibition of tyrosinase.

In terms of general effectiveness, hydroquinone is found in most prescription hyperpigmentation creams; it’s considered “the standard depigmentation or skin lightening agent” for melasma, freckles, sun spots, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. When used alone (with the exception of a daily sunscreen), 4% hydroquinone appeared to improve melasma by 40% in one study and by 76.9% in another. And a 2019 review concluded that hydroquinone monotherapy and a combination of hydroquinone, tretinoin, and a corticosteroid were the most effective treatments for melasma.

Notably, there is very little research on the use of 12% or even 6% hydroquinone. Most studies have used strengths ranging from 2% to 4%, maybe 5% at most. This makes Musely’s concentrations of the ingredient a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, lower strengths were overall effective, so higher ones should be, as well. But on the other hand, a higher strength means a higher risk of adverse (or potentially dangerous) side effects.

The one study we could find on higher strengths (12%) was a 2020 pilot study on a topical treatment for melasma consisting of 12% hydroquinone, 6% kojic acid, and 5% vitamin C. Evaluators found that each participant’s Melasma Area and Severity Index (MASI) scores reduced from around 42% at the lowest to 86% at most.

How the other Spot Cream ingredients work

Now that we’ve covered hydroquinone, let’s take a look at the remaining ingredients used in The Spot Cream.

Azelaic acid

Azelaic acid is the hydroquinone replacement for the HQ Free and HQ Free+ formulas. This ingredient has anti-inflammatory properties and (similar to hydroquinone) can inhibit tyrosinase. When used as a monotherapy for mild to moderate adult acne and related hyperpigmentation, a 2023 study found that 15-20% azelaic acid is an effective and well-tolerated treatment that “has an important role to play” in managing these concerns.

Two systematic reviews concluded that azelaic acid performed better than hydroquinone in reducing the appearance of melasma. The first review notes that 20% azelaic acid “demonstrated significantly better results compared with hydroquinone 2% for global improvement.” And the other review states that azelaic acid “may be better” at reducing melasma severity than hydroquinone but larger studies with long-term follow-up are necessary to confirm this.


Topical tretinoin appears to work by promoting skin shedding and increasing the rate of skin cell turnover. A 2012 review of tretinoin explains that it produces “...significant, albeit moderate, clinical improvements in symptoms such as fine wrinkling, roughness and pigmentation…” And a 2022 study concludes that topical retinoids (such as tretinoin) may be particularly helpful in treating hyperpigmentation caused by acne due to their anti-inflammatory properties.

Musely's M+ formula, which contains hydroquinone, tretinoin, and hydrocortisone (a corticosteroid), appears to be the company’s way of offering a combination similar to the only FDA-approved treatment for facial melasma, Tri-Luma. This prescription cream also contains hydroquinone, tretinoin, and a corticosteroid (fluocinolone).


Also known as nicotinamide, niacinamide is a type of vitamin B3 that’s been shown to have multiple benefits for skin health — one of which is brightening dark spots. In a 2002 study on mushrooms, researchers discovered that it works to lighten skin by inhibiting melanosome transfer. (Melanin is created within melanosomes.)

When used alone in a 4-5% concentration, niacinamide appears to be fairly effective at reducing hyperpigmentation, even coming close to hydroquinone’s effectiveness in a 2011 study. However, as stated in a 2021 review, other studies have seen mixed results when using lower concentrations (2%). This review goes on to explain that the efficacy of niacinamide improves when used in combination with other ingredients, which may explain why most relevant studies involve a mixture including niacinamide. Some ingredients commonly seen paired with niacinamide in successful research include kojic acid, tranexamic acid, and retinol.

Kojic acid

Similar to hydroquinone and azelaic acid, kojic acid works to lighten skin by inhibiting tyrosinase and the production of melanin.

In a clinical trial, a 1% kojic acid formulation was found to be effective in treating hyperpigmentation. And another study on 40 patients found that adding kojic acid to a skin-lightening formula improved how well it treated melasma — increasing from a 47.5% reduction to a 60% one.


This corticosteroid is only found in M+ and Erase, which both have the strongest concentrations of hydroquinone (12%). While not normally used on its own to lighten skin, hydrocortisone or other corticosteroids may be combined with various skin-lightening ingredients (often hydroquinone and a retinoid) to treat melasma and related conditions. As noted in a 2009 letter published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, corticosteroids are added to these formulas to reduce inflammation as a side effect.

Tranexamic acid

Only added to the HQ Free+ formula, this ingredient may reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation by helping to inhibit melanocytes (cells that make and contain melanin).

When a 3% concentration of tranexamic acid was pitted against a combination of 3% hydroquinone and .01% dexamethasone (a corticosteroid) in a 2014 study on 50 patients, tranexamic acid worked just as well as the hydroquinone combination — with far fewer side effects.

Vitamin C

Despite being a popular skincare ingredient, Vitamin C is only in two of Musely’s Spot Cream formulas: Nurture and HQ Free. Vitamin C has displayed numerous potential benefits for the skin, including protection, anti-aging, reducing under-eye circles, and lightening hyperpigmentation by inhibiting tyrosinase activity.

A systematic review from 2023 determined that vitamin C possesses depigmenting properties and appears to be effective in treating aging skin, but long-term use may be necessary to see results.

From this information, you can probably tell that M+ is Musely's strongest formula. It includes three of the most common components for reducing hyperpigmentation: hydroquinone, a retinoid (tretinoin), and a steroid (hydrocortisone). The Erase formula comes close, as it’s nearly the same as M+ minus the tretinoin.

If you’d prefer to avoid hydroquinone, then the HQ Free option (the one without the “+”) may be your best choice. Most studies on azelaic acid for hyperpigmentation utilize a 15-20% strength, while the HQ Free+ option only has a 10% strength. However, the high-strength (6%) tranexamic acid in the HQ Free+ formula might make up for the lower azelaic acid strength.

Ultimately, you may have to try a few formulas to find what works best for you, which is one of the reasons we appreciate Musely providing unlimited consultations with your assigned dermatologist for your first 60 days of treatment.

How much does The Spot Cream from Musely cost?

Musely’s Spot Cream is available as a one-time purchase or as a subscription delivered every two months (the length of time a bottle should last you). Here’s a quick breakdown of the pricing, taking into account the initial $20 doctor fee for all new patients.

Initial purchase$116 ($96 + $20)$87 ($67 + $20)
Subsequent purchases$96$67

Additionally, you can add a set of The Cleanser and The Day Cream (an SPF 50 sunscreen) to your initial purchase for an extra $18 (normally $30). Musely recommends applying a strong sunscreen daily while using most of its products, including The Spot Cream, so this may be a worthwhile investment if you don’t have sunscreen already.

Musely Spot Cream Review Cleanser Day Cream

Photo by Innerbody Research

Musely (like Wisp) doesn’t add sales tax or shipping fees to the final order cost. And, if your plan allows it, you can use an HSA/FSA as payment. In comparison, Hims and Hers products can’t be paid for with HSA/FSA, and a $5 processing fee is added at checkout.

Once you have an active prescription with Musely, you’ll be eligible to start earning rewards points. For each purchase you make (or refill you order) you’ll receive 8% cash back in Musely Rewards points. These points can be redeemed for OTC products, like The Day Cream and The Cleanser, additional consultations with your dermatologist after the initial 60 days have passed, or even for money off your next prescription purchase.

Our experience with The Spot Cream

Our experience with Musely when purchasing The Spot Cream was very straightforward and uncomplicated; the initial process is similar to many other online shopping experiences. The homepage of the company’s website has links to its various treatment types, with “Dark Spots” being the very first one on the top left. After clicking that, The Spot Cream should be the first treatment you see.

Once on The Spot Cream’s product page, you just add it to your cart and select whether or not you want to subscribe and if you’d like to add The Cleanser and The Day Cream to your order (this is pre-checked off as a “yes,” so make sure you’ve unchecked it if you don’t want it). When you’re ready to continue, you’ll first be prompted to create an account with your email and a password. You’ll then have to enter a code sent to your email for verification.

Musely Spot-cream Review Visit Questions

Photo by Innerbody Research

After this, you’ll begin your intake survey and virtual doctor visit; this process consists of a dozen or so questions ranging from your age and biological sex to your medical history, pregnancy status, skin concerns, and Spot Cream formula preferences. The final part of this visit requires you to upload pictures of your face for your Musely dermatologist to review.

Insider Tip: HQ Free (without the “+”) is not listed under the formulations on The Spot Cream’s product page, but it is an option you can select during the virtual visit.

Once your survey and pictures are submitted, you’ll proceed to checkout, where you’ll enter your shipping information and payment details. At checkout, you’ll also be able to see which dermatologist you’ve been assigned to; during “Step 3: Review & Place Order” there’s a “My Physician” link under your email address. Clicking this link will bring up a pop-up with their name and credentials. And once you submit your order, this dermatologist will review your information and determine whether or not a prescription is a good fit for you.

In our testers’ case, their prescriptions were approved on the same day they were submitted, but shipping took a few weeks. This was because each treatment we purchased was separately shipped on a different date, with The Spot Cream showing up last, even though they were all applied for at the same time. The delay is likely due to the fact that each Musely product is compounded once your prescription is approved, not manufactured beforehand. However, Hims and Hers prescription skincare products are also “custom,” but our testers received those in 3-5 days.

Musely Spot Cream Review Texture

Photo by Innerbody Research

After about eight days, we received The Spot Cream, and our testers found the product to be quite nice. The cream is thick but easy to spread, and it doesn’t feel heavy when applied; it also dries nicely and doesn’t leave behind any stickiness or residue. None of our testers had any negative reactions, which is similar to their experiences with Meladerm and the Hims and Hers skincare products.

Alternatives to Musely’s Spot Cream

If you’re interested in Musely alternatives, there’s certainly no shortage of different avenues you could take to find a potential hyperpigmentation treatment. In this section, we’ll give you the details on a few of our favorites.

Wisp hydroquinone prescription creams

Wisp is a telehealth service focused on sexual and reproductive health products and prescriptions. However, it also has some more general health offerings, like hydroquinone creams. Currently, the company has two hydroquinone prescriptions available: Brighten Up! and Even Out!

Notably, these creams appear to be the exact same, despite what the product descriptions say. Brighten Up! is supposed to be for use on the face, while Even Out! is for the body, but both products are 50mL (a 90-day supply) and contain:

  • Hydroquinone (5%)
  • Vitamin C (1%)
  • Niacinamide (4%)

We’ve scoured these product pages; nothing seems to be different between the two except where it’s intended to be applied — they even both link to the same application and dosage information page. Musely, on the other hand, has different formulas depending on the part of the body the cream is made for. Depending on your unique circumstances, you may prefer Musely’s approach over Wisp’s (or vice versa).

Both of the Wisp hydroquinone products are $90, and they’re only available as a one-time purchase. This is in contrast to Hims and Hers, which only offers its prescription skincare as subscriptions, and Musely, which allows you to purchase its products both ways. And since Wisp’s prescriptions are a 90-day supply, you’re only paying $30 per month, which is a few dollars less than Musely’s monthly subscription cost of $33.50 ($67 total for two months).

However, if you’re looking to treat melasma, Musely’s treatments may work better for you. This condition can be treatment-resistant and may require combination therapy to see effects — commonly hydroquinone, a retinoid, and a steroid (like the M+ Spot Cream). So, Wisp’s products might be more ideal for those with hyperpigmentation concerns like freckles, age spots, or sun damage.

Hims and Hers skincare

Telehealth company Hims & Hers Health (divided into Hims for men and Hers for women) offers a small selection of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) skincare products. The three that stand out as Musely Spot Cream competitors are the prescription Acne Cream, prescription Custom Anti-Aging Cream, and the OTC Fast Fader Dark Spot Corrector pen (the last of which is, interestingly, only available through Hers and not listed on the Hims website).

The Fast Fader Dark Spot Corrector pen is the only product outright marketed as a product designed to fade hyperpigmentation, but the two prescription creams do have mention of fading dark spots (the Anti-Aging Cream) or reducing hyperpigmentation due to inflammation from acne (the Acne Cream) in their product descriptions.

The prescription creams are best for all-over application on your face, while the Fast Fader pen is better for more direct application, like on specific troublesome acne marks.

Some of the ingredients used in these products are also found in Musely’s Spot Cream, such as:

  • Tretinoin (up to 0.09%)
  • Azelaic acid (up to 10%)
  • Niacinamide (up to 4%)
  • Tranexamic acid (only in the Fast Fader pen)

The Hims and Hers Acne Cream also includes ingredients like the antibiotic clindamycin, making it a potentially good option for those with active breakouts. Musely currently doesn’t offer any products for treating acne itself, only acne scarring or hyperpigmentation from inflammation caused by acne.

The chart below details the pricing for these Hims and Hers products (the prescription skincare items are subscription-based only):

One-time purchaseSubscription
Fast Fader Dark Spot Corrector$25(10% off) Two pens every eight months at $22.50 per pen for a total of $45
Anti-Aging Cream$29 to $45 every month
Acne Cream$29 to $45 every month

Since a subscription to Musely’s Spot Cream includes a 2-month supply for $67, it only makes sense to compare it to the cost of two months of the Hims and Hers creams. Depending on the formula you get, you’d pay between $58 and $90 every two months. The low end of those prices is competitive, but the high end is only a few dollars less than the single purchase price of The Spot Cream ($96), making a Musely subscription the more cost-effective option.


Civant’s Meladerm earned our top pick for best over-the-counter whitening cream for several reasons, the main one being its ingredients. What Civant includes (and leaves out of) Meladerm means that it should be a safe and effective OTC solution for skin brightening. This cream contains 15 active ingredients, including some found in The Spot Cream formulas like niacinamide, tranexamic acid, and vitamin C. However, Meladerm doesn’t contain harsh ingredients like hydroquinone, tretinoin, or steroids, making it more akin to the HQ Free and HQ Free+ Spot Cream options.

Unlike The Spot Cream from Musely or the hydroquinone from Wisp, Meladerm doesn’t have separate creams for different body areas; it can be applied to the face, knees, underarms, elbows, and inner thighs. Of course, performing a spot test is always recommended first, just to be safe.

Each bottle of Meladerm is 1.7oz (50mL), and one bottle should last you about seven weeks. Here’s how the pricing breaks down:

One-time purchaseSubscription
Single bottle$68$64.60
2-pack$106 ($53 per bottle)$100.70 ($50.35 per bottle)

To learn more about Meladerm, check out our full review.

Musely Spot Cream FAQ



Innerbody uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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