Why would anyone want “bright skin?” As a civilization, we are obsessed with reversing the effects of time, especially with regard to our skin. As we age, the skin that we were born with becomes darker, due to exposure to the sun and light. Although we may never hope to return our skin to the state from whence it came, there is promise of returning it to a healthier, simpler state, before the evil sun did its damage.
Skin brighteners defend skin against post- inflammatory hyper pigmentation, or any type of inflammation on the skin, specifically, blemishes from acne. Dr. Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD and senior vice president of The Skin Cancer Foundation says,” When the acne resolves, sometimes the skin stains, which is causing too much pigment to be released. That’s a common issue where a skin brightener may help. In addition, skin brighteners help target age spots and brown spots, which are caused by ultraviolet rays.”
Although most brighteners contain similar ingredients, they may work entirely differently depending on the formula. Here are some ingredients found in most skin brighteners and what they do.
While it may be 50 years old, “prescription hydroquinine is still the gold standard in bleaching,” according to Pearl Grimes, professor of dermatology at UCLA . The drug works to fade spots and block enzymes used to create new ones, and can lighten skin blotches in about four to six weeks when used in combination with a nonprescription retinal or retinoid.
If your skin tends toward redness, this ingredient is for you. Often used as a treatment for rosacea prone skin, it “only targets melanin, so it doesn’t lighten healthy skin,” says Jeannette Graf, assistant professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai school of Medicine.
This enzyme has come a long way from its original purpose of whitening paper. Melazyme is the only ingredient capable of dissolving melanin on the surface of the skin. (Other enzymes impede the melanin production, blocking pigments from the surface of the skin.) The mushroom derived ingredient usually works within four weeks, as compared with the one or two months it takes for most brighteners to take effect.
Kojic acid is a white powder used often used in Japan as a natural treatment for reduction of skin discoloration. Studies by the American Academy of Dermatologists have shown its clinical ability to fight hyperpigmention by limiting the tyrosinase, the protein which produces melanin. Kojic acid is also an antioxidant, suitable for sensate skin.
Alpha arbutus is one of the most effective skin lightening ingredients available and has been proven to work on all skin types. The chemical properties inhibit tyrosinase from producing melanin, which is responsible for creation of pigment and outperforms all other bleaching agents. Alpha arbutus is found in a powder form and is pure and water soluble.
Often referred to simply as Arbutin, beta arbutin, or bearberry extract lightens skin by inhibiting activity of tyrosinase. It is no as strong as its alpha counterpart, but has been used to treat skin pigmentation and brighten skin.
What do you know about brighter skin? Do you have any secrets to share? We love to hear them!