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.

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