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Friday, June 18, 2021

Brightening Agents That Are Right For Any Skin Type

Brightening Agents That Are Right For Any Skin Type

The current trend in skincare is towards brightening photo damage (sun damage) and melasma. There is very good reason for this. In the not so distant past we as humans were sun worshippers and didn't take very good care of our skin, and so now our sins have come back to haunt us. On our faces. It is particularly unfortunate that all of our sun damage is now visible and in a not so nice way. I often look at younger people and see freckles that look cute but think "oh that is sun damage from UVA rays and will later look much worse on the skin". Trust me on this because I was one of those people with cute freckles. You should see the sun damage I have on my arms and face now. It is comprehensive. I didn't start using sunscreen regularly until I was in my late teens, and by then the damage was done.

So what do you do to brighten up your skin? There are so many different wonderful brightening agents available on the market now. It used to be just hydroquinone (which has been found to be a possible carcinogen in lab animals). Here I will list some of the most popular and add some products with these ingredients in them.
  • Niacinamide: currently the most popular brightening agent around, found in the majority of products. A form of Vitamin B3, it works on acne and sebum production and therefore is great on oily skin in particular but works well on any skin type. In a solution of 2% or 4% it works wonders on hyperpigmentation by inhibiting melanosome transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes. It is found in so many products but especially Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops and Neostrata Illuminating Serum. 
  • Tranexamic Acid: provides a powerful and specific anti-inflammatory action, inhibiting tyrosinase synthesis in melanocytes. At the same time it blocks the transfer of pigment from melanocytes to keratinocytes in the epidermis. It also calms the skin and helps restore the skin barrier, which makes is great for dry and sensitive skins. Found in Topicals Faded (works like a charm) and The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment. 
  • Kojic Acid: inhibits and prevents the formation of tyrosine, which is an amino acid that's needed to produce melanin. Melanin is the pigment that affects hair, skin, and eye color. Because it inhibits the production of melanin, kojic acid has a lightening effect. Often you will find it in conjunction with other ingredients in products, as it works well when used with other ingredients. It is in the SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense Multi-Phase Serum. It is also in Topicals Faded Serum too, 
  • Retinods: found in many products and great for most people, retinoids are a form of Vitamin A and brighten the skin by increasing cell turnover. The best form of a retinoid is isotretinoin. Available only by prescription, it rapidly increases cell turnover, decreases fine lines and wrinkles and decreases acne. These work best when used in conjunction with other brightening agents. Found in so many products, such as prescription Retin-A, CeraVe Resurfacing Retinal Serum and etc. There is a great chance of irritation with these than any other ingredient. So use them carefully. Follow a one night on, one night off routine at first until you can handle a daily routine. The peeling of the skin means the product is actually working though, as that is exfoliation. 
  • Vitamin C: one of the original brightening agents for skincare, Vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning it protects skin cells from damaging free radicals caused by UV exposure. It also inhibits melanin production in the skin, which helps to lighten hyperpigmentation and brown spots, even out skin tone, and enhance skin radiance. Found in many products such as SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum  (a perennial favorite among dermatologists and skincare addicts alike). 
  • Alpha Arbutin: works by inhibiting tyrosinase, the key enzyme responsible for the production of melanin, or pigment, in the skin.In other words, less tyrosinase means less pigment, which means less discoloration and fewer unwanted dark spots. It can be found in The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA.
  • Hydroquinone: comes in an OTC form at 2% or a Rx form at 4% or higher. It works by inhibiting new epidermal melanin production and has been shown to be safe and effective in patients age 13 and older, This ingredient will lighten not only the skin you want lightened but all the skin around it too and it can create photosensitivity. It is not used as much these days.  
These are the main ingredients that are used for hyperpigmentation in skincare at the moment. Not only do they work for all skin types, the majority of them have different side effects that help your skin in other ways too (acne treatment, wrinkle treatment, etc). Well worth taking the time to do a little bit of research to see which one you would like to intreduce into your skincare routine. You can always ask me. Email me at: mariepapachatzis@gmail.com

Until Next Time~

Marie Papachatzis


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