The purpose of makeup is to hide imperfections. Many women use powders, liquid foundations, and creams to give their skin a fairer and more even appearance. And while these products can improve the look of skin, the results are temporary and rarely look natural. Users probably wish there was a way to actually improve the appearance of skin instead of merely covering it up, and skin brighteners may be the answer. Unfortunately, not all skin brighteners are safe or effective. Below is an in-depth look at these increasingly popular cosmetic products.
The Major Types and Causes of Hyperpigmentation
Uneven pigmentation that can make skin look dull is why the vast majority of women seek out a skin brightening product. There are three main causes of uneven pigmentation. The first is melasma, which is also commonly known as the mask of pregnancy. This condition is associated with patches on the face that are brown or tan in color. Although not dangerous, it can obviously be quite embarrassing for those affected by it. General hyperpigmentation is associated with dark areas that appear on the skin. This problem is caused by excess melanin in the body. Hyperpigmentation can occur during pregnancy, and is also associated with certain health conditions and the use of some medications. Sun exposure can lead to hyperpigmented areas on the skin or cause them to worsen. Probably the most common type of hyperpigmentation is sun spots, also known as liver spots or age spots. They can be black, brown, or grey in color, are not raised, and usually have an oval shape. Sun spots can range in size—some are no larger than a freckle, while others are over a centimeter wide. They are primarily caused by exposure to the sun, and are highly visible when they develop on fair skin.
- Benzene 1: Dr. Bill Lloyd, M.D., a doctor who is highly knowledgeable about an array of healthcare issues, sums up the major risks of benzene 1 in the following statement: “Benzene 1 has been on the cancer watch list for decades, both because of animal studies (rats given tons of benzene 1 to ingest) and retrospective health surveys that compared cancer risks by occupation/environmental exposure.” Because of the cancer risk, the use of benzene 1 in skin brightening products is severely limited in the United States. Only very small amounts may be included in formulations. Other countries have gone even further, completely banning benzene 1 use in over-the-counter products.
- Kojic acid: This is a harsh irritant that can cause a number of adverse effects, including inflammation, soreness, redness, and itchiness. Over time, skin may also become more sensitive. Using products containing kojic acid in conjunction with ones that contain salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, or retinol can increase the potential for and severity of adverse reactions.
- Mercury: Most countries have banned the use of mercury in skin whitening products, and for good reason. It not only has the potential to irritate skin, but can also harm the nervous system and vital organs, including the brain and kidneys. Expectant mothers who use products containing mercury can also cause harm to their unborn children.
Natural Skin Brightening
After reading the above information, you may be thinking that skin brightening simply isn’t worth the dangers. Fortunately, there are several natural compounds that can brighten skin without side effects and serious health risks. If you decide to use a skin brightener, look for the following to make sure you are getting a product that is both safe and effective:
- Biowhite – This is formulated with botanical extracts that have the potential to make skin more luminous and improve fairness. Some of the ingredients in this remarkable compound are grape, mulberry, and saxifraga.
- Gigawhite – This is another potent botanical extract that can brighten skin when applied regularly. According to an in-vivo study, other benefits of Gigawhite include a reduction in the appearance of age spots.
- Hyaluronic acid – Although it will not make your skin lighter, it is an amazing moisturizer that will hydrate skin and give it a smoother appearance to make your fairer and brighter complexion even more radiant.
- Sepiwhite – This compound works by inhibiting the production of tyrosinase, which is vital to the formation of melanin. Therefore, Sepiwhite can help reduce skin pigmentation.
- Alpha Arbutin – This inhibits both tyrosine and Dopa, which can reduce melanin and, consequently, skin pigmentation.
Skin Brightening – How Our Data Can Help
The above information will make it easier for you to avoid harmful skin brighteners, find products with effective ingredients, and enhance and maintain your results. However, you still probably aren’t sure about the exact product you should purchase. To help you out, we examined up-to-date scientific research and specific formulations to identify skin brightening products that could lighten skin, minimize areas of hyperpigmentation such as freckles and age spots, make skin look brighter and more luminous, and improve skin texture. Choose from our list to ensure you’re getting a quality product that will maximize the beauty and brightness of your skin without the risk.
Getting the Most Out of Your Skin Brightening Product
Once you decide that you want a fairer complexion, it’s essential to find a skin brightener with one or more of the ingredients described above. There are also other things you can do to make your results even more remarkable. Exfoliation can help you reveal brighter, lighter skin. Glycolic acid is a great choice since it is both gentle and effective. Through daily exfoliation, you will remove the outer, often darkened layer of skin and make it smoother and more youthful looking. Moisturizing is also crucial to keep skin well-hydrated and looking its best. To improve the texture of your skin and help diminish the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, try to use skin care products that contain vitamin A, BHAs, or glycolic acid. Antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C can also help improve the look of skin. Finally—and perhaps most important—protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays. Use an SPF 15 sunscreen formulated with zinc oxide whenever you go outside to maintain the results achieved with a skin brightening product.
**This is a subjective assessment based on the strength of the available information and our estimation of efficiency.