What are parabens and preservatives?

In recent years, consumers have become more aware of what products or ingredients they place on their skin regardless of marketing claims. Therefore, it is very important for brands to educate their consumers on what ingredients they put into their products before gaining trust from the consumers. Studies have shown that there has been a trend to reduce the use of parabens and preservatives in many cosmetic formulations for a variety of reasons including the safety of the ingredients themselves. Microbial contamination in cosmetic or food products may actually cause a major risk for the health of the consumer, regardless of topical or consumed products.

Preservatives are added to products to inhibit the development of microorganisms to increase the shelf-life of the products so that they can remain on the shelves for a longer time. They also have other functions such as to preserve the appearance of the food or cosmetic product, and also saving the products from spoilage from microbes. Parabens are considered chemical preservative ingredients used in cosmetic products, food products and also pharmaceuticals. They are able to prevent the growth of fungi, bacteria and yeast effectively and therefore are powerful preservatives for products which need to be shipped over long distances for longer periods of time. Parabens have been used more often because they have good antimicrobial activity, water and oil solubility, good stability over a wide pH range and also they are sold at very low prices.

Fact or Fiction?

Studies have found that parabens are actually able to penetrate the skin and even enter the bloodstream to reach parts of the body. In 2004, a group of scientists were able to find trace residues of “intact” parabens in human breast cancer tissues and suggested that these traces could have come from topical application of cosmetic products with parabens as the ingredient. Parabens are safe to use at concentrations of up to 0.4% (single paraben) or 0.8% (mixture), but when used consistently, they may accumulate and become a safety issue. Preservatives are also biologically active, and so, they may be toxic, and cause skin sensitisation.

Does The Lightening Serum contain preservatives and parabens?

No, na-dah, nyet, nein. The Lightening Serum by 28cubed does not contain preservatives as we do not want our consumers to experience skin sensitization and other health-related issues and several of our ingredients naturally have their own antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, such as maltol. With the presence of these ingredients and our packaging design, we are good to go without the need for preservatives. The cartridges are sealed once they are manufactured and filled and once open, they are directed to be used in a week. Within this time, there is minimal microbial contamination and the self-preserving properties of the ingredients are definitely sufficient to protect the serum for a good amount of time.
By delivering our product to consumers as hygienically as possible and doing our best to avoid contamination and bacterial growth within the product, you can be assured that our product is safe to use on your skin, with no unnatural side effects.

Find out more about The Lightening Serum and its 3 unique food based actives responsible for a revolutionary solution to excess pigmentation.

The Science Behind Sunscreen

Sunscreen or sunblock is used to protect the skin from excess UV exposure, which can cause various types of skin cancer. There are two main types of UV radiation that affects the skin: UVA and UVB radiation. The former has the longest wavelength and penetrates deeper into the epidermis of the skin and is able to reach the dermis where the living skin cells are present.

UV Damage on the Skin

UVA radiation may result in skin conditions such as loose skin, sun spots and can also affect the DNA which increases the risk of cancer. It causes oxidative stress by activating the endogenous photosensitizers which may indirectly lead to DNA damage and long-term photoaging.

UVB radiation, on the other hand, reaches the superficial layers of the skin and mainly causes redness, sun burn and also skin cancer. UVB rays can directly damage DNA and proteins in the skin cells of the epidermis and is linked to erythema or sunburn. Both UVA and UVB radiation suppresses the immune system, which is associated with the development of skin cancers and may contribute to the development of melanoma.

Also, UV radiation signal the skin cells to produce more melanin to try to protect the skin from burning or damaging the skin. This overproduction of melanin results in pigmentation problems at different areas of the skin which is in contact with the sun, resulting in uneven skin tone. Sunscreens are therefore used as a form of protection to reduce or prevent such skin issues.

Sunscreen Ingredients & How they protect the skin?

Up to date, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved 17 active ingredients for use in sunscreens. Chemical and physical sunscreen ingredients may be used to help protect the skin from UV damage. Physical sunscreen products make use of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as a physical barrier to reflect and scatter the UV rays from the skin surface. They typically appear white and opaque and is unfavourable by many consumers.

Chemical sunscreen ingredients, on the other hand, are able to absorb the UV radiation and dissipate the energy into another form. Examples are oxybenzone, octyl methoxycinnamate, avobenzene and many more. Sunscreens with these chemical actives are usually colourless or translucent to give a more favourable appearance and consumer experience.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) primarily measures the ability to block the skin’s response to UVB radiation. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) came up with an analogy to make SPF easier to understand to a consumer: “When using a SPF of 15, a fair-skinned person who normally sunburns in 20 minutes of midday sun exposure may tolerate 15 times 20 minutes (300 minutes) without burning”. To quantify SPF values, SPF of 15 blocks out 94% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks out 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks out 98% of UVB rays.

Consumers also do not use the appropriate amount of sunscreen per area to achieve the specific SPF value as claimed on the products. The internationally agreed application amount is 2 mg/cm2, but consumers only apply between 0.5 and 1.5 mg/cm2. Therefore, they do not get the full protection as expected and still may experience sunburn or other types of skin cancers.

How The Lightening Serum reverses the sun’s damage on the skin?

The Lightening Serum by 28cubed acts on the “excited” skin cells which are activated by UV radiation and calms it down by signalling the cells to produce less of this excess melanin, with the combination of Po3™. Once the dermis layer produces melanocytes with less melanin, the new cells are revealed on the top-most layer of the skin once the dead skin cells are shed. This way, The Lightening Serum keeps the skin cells from being agitated from any UV radiation.

Find out more about how The Lightening Serum uses food science technology to help you achieve brighter, more even and younger looking skin here.

skin whitening actives

The science behind skin lightening and brightening

Skin brightening and whitening products are highly sought after by many who experience skin pigmentation, scarring and several other radiative exposures from the sun, which causes uneven darkening of the skin. Common skin lightening ingredients include hydroquinone, niacinamide and kojic acid.

Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone is a reversible chemical brightening agent which works by blocking crucial enzymes (i.e. tyrosinase) in the melanogenesis pathway on the skin. It is usually used as a skin bleaching agent to tackle skin discoloration related skin conditions. The inhibition of the enzyme tyrosinase results in a chemical reduction of melanin.

Hydroquinone has been successfully used for decades to treat conditions like melasma, helping to reduce skin pigmentation and even out the skin tone. However, since the effects are reversible, topical application is required to maintain the skin lightening effect. Moreover, misuse or overuse of this chemical can actually cause several side effects such as dryness, irritation, and also ochronosis (which is a bluish black discolouration caused by the accumulation of homogentisic acid, during the breakdown of tyrosine in the melanogenesis pathway). It has been banned in some European countries due to the risk of causing cancer.

Niacinamide

Niacinamide is made from niacin, which is also known as vitamin B3. Niacin can be found in most cells and are present in most metabolically active tissues, such as the brain, heart and liver. The human body is able to make small amounts of vitamin B3, and so, it must come hugely from food sources such as fish, red meat and nuts.

It is used as a skin brightener mainly because of its excellent cell renewing properties. Niacinamide is widely considered as a skin brightener as it is also a tyrosinase enzyme inhibitor which works similarly to hydroquinone to reduce melanin production on the skin. There is evidence of niacinamide being used as an anti-ageing active ingredient. It is helpful for treating excessive dryness, helps produce more collagen and also could act as a moisturising ingredient.

However, for effective skin brightening, niacinamide needs to be dosed in cosmetics at least 4% to help lighten skin pigmentation.

Kojic acid

Kojic acid is a by-product of a fermentation process during the manufacturing of sake (Japanese rice wine). Studies have shown the efficacy of kojic acid in skin lightening. It is an anti-oxidant and has melanin reduction properties. However, kojic acid is very unstable in nature and upon exposure to sunlight or oxygen, it can oxidise and lose its efficacy. Research has shown that kojic acid is not cancer-causing but can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation if used in high amounts. 

Others

Other whitening agents are vitamin C, gluthathione, and even mercury. They have their own pros and cons. However, Po3™ in The Lightening Serum has a much greater efficacy than even niacinamide at very low dosage, much lower than 4%.

Often, various skin whitening ingredients have also been found to increase the expression of tyrosinase, resulting in greater melanin synthesis, causing more pigmentation on the skin. The Po3™ actives effectively target different pathways in the skin melanogenesis process and work together with the skin’s 28-day rejuvenation cycle to reveal a brighter, even and younger looking skin. At a very low dosage, Po3™ in The Lightening Serum is able to reduce excess melanin production by 33% more than that compared to niacinamide used at 5% in a serum formulation after 28 days. This not only reduces the chances of skin irritation, and other skin conditions, it effectively lightens pigmented spots and even out the skin tone.

The Lightening Serum targets the production of excess melanin within the skin using a patented, potent combination of three food based actives. These actives work differently from the above mentioned actives as it works from the inside out and targets your dark spots via two different mechanisms of action – unlike most products that only use one. This means that there is a higher likelihood of The Lightening Serum working for your skin – not to mention, not only is it hypoallergenic and safe to use around your eyes, it is also paraben, preservative, and cruelty free. For more information on the secret behind skin brightening and whitening, read this post.

secret to brighter skinn header

The secret behind achieving a brighter, whiter skin tone

Clear, radiant skin has always been a topic of conversation for most women and even men in Asia. With that, there is no surprise that dark skin or pigmented skin has been a topic of controversy in Asia and fairness is always promoted as a ‘plus point’ for women. Additionally, in a study done by Chanel on forty Chinese women in 2014, it showed that the fairness and “purity of the complexion” had a significant influence on the assumed age of a person1. Therefore, anti-pigmentation or whitening products became more popularly viewed as anti-ageing products as well.

How brightening and whitening products work

Most whitening products work by inhibiting the tyrosinase enzyme, which plays a major role in melanin synthesis in the skin. Brightening, on the other hand, is achieved by exfoliation or removal of dead skin cells, which makes the skin look more radiant and glowing. The skin undergoes constant renewal, and every 28 days (could be longer for older adults), dead cells on the top most layer of the skin is replaced by newer cells. When these dead cells are shed, a brighter, fresher-looking layer of skin is revealed.

Common whitening/ brightening ingredients

Whitening ingredients commonly used for decades in the cosmetic industry are kojic acid, niacinamide, hydroquinone, vitamin C, arbutin, and retinol. For brightening, these include ingredients such as alpha and beta hydroxy acids, and also vitamin C. These ingredients, if not used at high dosages, do not give high efficacy. However, there are specific restrictions for each of these ingredients and for a good efficacy, they have to be used at a dosage that is much greater than the specified limit. This could then result in undesirable effects on the skin.

How Po3™ promotes brightening

The three actives that make up Po3™ (Sodium Saccharin, Ginseng Root Extract, and Cocoa Seed Extract) have different metabolic and signalling pathways which target different enzymes and proteins in the melanogenesis process. In several market whitening/brightening products, the actives used frequently act on one pathway and sometimes this may not be effective for all skin type, ethnicity, etc. By targeting different pathways in the skin melanogenesis cycle, it allows most people to effectively experience skin lightening/ brightening without that disappointment once again.

The Lightening Serum by 28cubed works with the skin’s 28-day rejuvenation cycle to reveal a brighter, younger looking skin by targeting different sections of the cycle which causes skin pigmentation and darkening. By working from the inside out, The Lightening Serum is effective in targeting excess pigmentation in the long run, giving you brighter, more even and younger looking skin. The Lightening Serum is available here, and more information on its mechanism of action can be found here.