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.

Understanding hypopigmentation with 28Cubed

What is hypopigmentation?

Hypopigmentation refers to patches of skin on your body or face that lack colour or are lighter in colour from your overall skin tone. This occurs when your skin is unable to produce enough melanin and may be caused by a variety of different genetic or environmental factors. Examples of some of the most common causes and conditions are listed down below:

Hypopigmentation
(cr:medicalnewstoday)

Albinism

A rare genetic defect, albinism is caused when one’s skin is unable to produce melanin – causing their hair and skin to appear white, and their eyes to have less pigment. Because melanin serves as a means for our skin to protect us from the sun’s UV rays, albinos are more prone to sunburn and can cause burning, peeling, blisters, hard or wrinkled skin, and bumps or wounds that can develop into skin cancer and be life-threatening. Thus, it is important for them to adequately protect themselves from the sun by staying indoors and wearing sun protection.

Vitiligo

Individuals with vitiligo have patches of skin that are lighter in colour. These patches may be found all over their body and/or face. The exact cause of vitiligo is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by an autoimmune disease that damages melanin producing cells. The lighter patches of skin are more prone to sunburn and should be protected against the sun’s UV rays.

Scars and burns, Healed blisters, Infections

The healing of infections, burns, and blisters may result in scars that are lighter in colour compared to the skin around it – resulting in hypopigmentation. These forms of discolouration may be temporary or long term, depending on the individual.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin experiences an allergic reaction/ irritation from contact with a substance. These reactions often come in the form of red, itchy rashes and is neither contagious nor life threatening. This reaction could lighten the skin – resulting in hypopigmentation.

How do I cure my hypopigmentation?

As stated by DermNet New Zealand, hypopigmentation will likely resolve itself as the affected skin cells begin to heal. The skin cells in the should be able to produce melanin again within the next skin rejuvenation cycles. If unsure or you think your hypopigmentation could be a sign of something more severe, visit a medical professional for a consultation.

Hypopigmentation is defined as the lack of melanin pigment within your skin, on various parts of your body. This results in various areas being lighter coloured as compared to the rest of your natural skintone. Thus, because The Lightening Serum targets the production of excess melanin, it might not be able to even out your skin tone entirely.

However, if you do suffer from age spots, liver spots, melasma, or dark scarring on other parts of your body, The Lightening Serum will be able to even these spots of dark pigmentation out.

Interested in finding out more? Click here to read up on our unique inside-out mechanism of action using food science technology. You won’t be disappointed!

Understanding Hyperpigmentation with 28Cubed

What is pigmentation?

Pigmentation is what gives your skin its colour and is caused by the presence of melanin. Melanin is the pigment responsible for the colour of our skin, hair, and eyes in all humans and animals- thus, darker skinned individuals have more melanin in their skin as compared to lighter skinned individuals.

Your skins’ pigmentation levels may be affected by a variety of different factors – genetics, your exposure to the sun, hormones, or even inflammation. When this occurs, your skin may become darker, referred to as hyperpigmentation, or lighter, hypopigmentation.

Understanding hyperpigmentation

An example of hyperpigmentation (cr: medicalnewstoday)

Hyperpigmentation occurs when your skin starts to produce an excess of melanin, resulting in a darker skin tone, or patches of unevenly darkened patches of skin around your face or your body. Melanin is a brown pigment, produced by melanocytes which are found in the bottom layer of the epidermis and give us the colour of our skin.
Listed below are the most common forms of hyperpigmentation:

Pigment spots/ age spots/ liver spots

Age spots are often described as flat spots on the skin which are darker in colour – usually dark brown, gray, or black. They develop on areas of your body or face which are more exposed to the sun. It is also believed that skin aging and high levels of exposure to the sun and UV rays are likely causes of age spots.

People most likely to develop such spots are those:

  • Older than 40
  • Those with fairer skin
  • People who spend extended periods of time in the sun
  • Frequent sun bed users

You may keep in mind that these darker spots are not dangerous and do not cause any health issues – however, if you believe that a particular dark spot may be an indication of something more severe, do visit a medical professional.

Melasma/ Cholasma

Also known as ‘the mask of pregnancy’, melasma usually occurs on the forehead, cheeks, and around the mouth area. These dark patches often appear on both sides of the face in a similar pattern. It is associated with hormonal changes and typically lasts until the end of the pregnancy. Women who consume birth control pills may also experience these dark spots from the changes in hormone levels. The chances of you developing melasma may be elevated if you spend extended periods of time in the sun. This is because ultimately melasma are darkened spots of pigmentated which is produced when melanin producing cells are triggered by sunlight or UV rays

People prone to melasma are:

  • Pregnant women
  • Women who consume birth control pills or any other forms of medication that might interfere with hormone levels  

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

A temporary form of pigmentation normally occurs when a skin injury heals, or when the skin is triggered by an inflammatory disorder ( e.g. dermatitis, or infections). When this happens, this inflammation and damage to the epidermis or dermis trigger melanocytes to produce excess melanin, forming dark pigmented spots that remain on your skin long after the wound has recovered. This is also known as scarring. It is recommended to apply sunscreen to the affected area to minimise darkening within the pigmented spot.

How does The Lightening Serum help you target hyperpigmentation?

The Lightening Serum by 28Cubed helps you achieve a brighter, more even skin tone by targeting the process of excess melanin production within your skin. This way, your darker spots are corrected from within, using our unique, patented blend of active ingredients – Po3™.

Po3™ works from the inside out, based on the skin’s 28 day rejuvenation cycle, instead of bleaching the skin using acids or peels. This ensures that the surface of your skin remains undamaged and healthy.

Interested in achieving brighter, more even and younger looking skin? Find out more about The Lightening Serum and its potent mechanic of action here.