What is Skin Brightening?
When you notice the word “brightening” labeled on a skincare product it’s not exactly referring to transforming your skin to lighter, whiter shades of color – instead, it’s mainly about rejuvenating dry, dull, tired and textured skin so it visibly looks refreshed, healthy and radiant. In some cases, brightening creams or serums contain ample amounts of skin lightening ingredients to “improve” one’s appearance by tackling dark imperfections like freckles, age spots, and dark spots to enhance your skin’s features by evening out your skin’s tone.
So, what is the magic ingredient contained in these brightening products….
Here are a few of the best ingredients you should be looking for in skin brightening products:
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Known as AHAs, these popular, yet effective ingredients are found in many skin brightening products today, and for a good reason too! In short, AHAs are chemical exfoliants that can penetrate deep into the skin’s dermis and are gentler on the skin compared to “Physical exfoliants” that are used in scrubs to remove excess skin cells that lie on the top layer of skin.
Of this chemical compound, glycolic acid has the smallest of particles and can penetrate much deeper; however, it is also the harshest on the skin.
Gentler AHAs such as lactic acid are an alternative to glycolic acid for those who have sensitive skin.
Check out our 10% Lactic acid toner for glowy, beautiful skin here:
Beta hydroxy acid (BHA). Known as a stronger exfoliant compared to AHAs, BHAs (like salicylic acid) go much deeper into the skin’s dermis and have the unique attribute of being oil soluble – meaning they can dissolve through natural oils that clog pores. BHAs are perfect for acne-prone skin types with the expectation that they are much harsher than the AHAs.
Our clear skin serum with Azelaic acid and Salicylic acid is great for achieving that beautiful, clear skin.
Fruit enzymes. If you’re someone who has sensitive skin and may experience irritation from using AHAs or BHAs, then no worries there, fruit enzymes are an all-natural alternative that can gently exfoliate the skin. Fruit enzymes are exactly that, enzymes within fruits like pineapple, papaya, pumpkin, and even figs contain an abundance of enzymes to help exfoliate the skin without causing irritation or rashes.
Our Face wash with papaya extract has a mild exfoliating action to give a smoother looking skin.
Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from environmental pollutants and UV radiation.
Vitamin C works by neutralizing free radical cells that damage the skin and cause aging to help rejuvenate the skin and keep it naturally radiant. Also, it helps to repair the skin at a faster rate and scar much less, slows the production of melanin for lighter, brighter skin, and boosts the production of collagen to firm up the skin.
As time goes on, the levels of Vitamin C within the skin declines naturally with age.
Check out our vitamin C products that help to brighten the skin
What is Skin Lightening?
There’s a big difference between skin brightening and lightening. While brightening enhances glow and “fades” away some of the dark blemishes we have, skin lightening takes it another step further to completely diminish the visible appearance of dark spots like hyperpigmentation and melasma. It also has the capability to treat forms of sun damage and acne scarring , in a much faster rate than skin brightening products.
Some lightening products are even potent enough to alter the skin’s complexion by a shade or more if used regularly.
Its important to note that most skin lighteners are melanin inhibitors and some can be quite harmful to skin over prolonged use. However, some of them are all-natural and suitable for all skin types.
Below you will find a list of the best melanin inhibitors found in skin lightening products.
Hydroquinone. Known to be one of the most controversial chemical skin lighteners, hydroquinone remains at the top for being the most effective skin lightening ingredients used in many of the skin lightening and whitening products we use today.
Hydroquinone can be found over-the-counter in a low concentration; however, don’t underestimate its potential to lighten skin. Even in lower concentrations, hydroquinone is strong enough to get the job done considerably by inhibiting melanin (pigments within the skin). Unlike natural skin lighteners, hydroquinone is much more potent because of it being chemical based, with a downside of not being suitable for all skin types.
Kojic Acid. The second and most popular skin lightening ingredient used is known as Kojic Acid and makes for an excellent all-natural alternative to the chemical hydroquinone. Kojic acid works by inhibiting the conversion process of tyrosinase to melanin while interfering with the oxygen uptake required for enzymatic browning. From this process, you can expect to notice a lighter complexion in the desired areas of which kojic acid formulas are applied.
With lightening agents, its important to note that the potency or intensity of the ingredients determines the degree of depigmentation you get, while some are mild like retinol and alpha Arbutin ,azelaic acid and vitamin C, other are quite intense like hydroquinone, and mercury and quite harmful too..
You might also want to check out our older blog posts on skin lightening below: