Summer is fast approaching. For aestheticians, that usually means the second phase of brightening season. Since suppressing skin activity actually makes skin more photosensitive, the fall is the best time for clients to complete a brightening series before the sun really starts to beat down. However, a new generation of ingredients are making it safe to address pigmentation concerns year-round.
By now, most clients have learned that the lightening ingredient hydroquinone is toxic and can lead to adverse reactions. While proven as an effective lightener, this carcinogen is known to cause skin irritation, pose pregnancy risks, target the kidney, and even cause a bluing of the skin known as ochronosis when overused. In addition, recent studies show that hydroquinone contributes to environmental pollution, as it depletes microbial activity in soil, throwing off the planet’s microbiome.
Arbutin, hydroquinone’s tree-hugging cousin, has long been used as a dark spot treatment. The standard cocktail for serious pigmentary issues involves a combination of arbutin, licorice, vitamin C in the form of magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP), a chemical peel series incorporating kojic, lactic and/or mandelic acid, and oral glutathione supplements for good measure. With recent regulations from the European Union, however, arbutin can no longer be used at the percentage that garners the best results. So, what is a freckled (or just blotchy) face to do?
The following is a range of patented brightener ingredients that suppress melanin production without the negative side effects.
- ChromaWhite, which camouflages discoloration while blocking tyrosinase activity
- Melanozyme, which weakens the polymer bond, breaking down melanin for brighter skin
- Tyrostat, a mild tyrosinase inhibitor that regulates inflammation, as well
- β-White, which inhibits melanocyte activity by binding with the melanogenesis associated transcription factor (MTF), a protein coding gene
Manufacturers are adding these ingredients to serums, creams, makeup and even chemical peels. Whatever the mode of attack, the primary point to remember is that melanin is a friend. It is a powerful antioxidant that congregates together to protect DNA at the nuclei of cells. So, choose wisely and always layer an antioxidant serum and mineral-based sunscreen to prevent further sun damage.
Aliesh Pierce, L.E., is the author of the textbook “Treating Diverse Pigmentation (Milady 2012).” Before making the transition to skin care, Pierce was a freelance makeup artist. She worked almost a decade in the fashion industry. Her makeup and skin care careers collided when she was commissioned by Volwerk to expand the range of products offered by direct sales brand Jafra Cosmetics International. After launching the new products, Pierce went on to become the director of education for Veria International and DMK Skin Revision. Pierce continues to create content for various brands. Through her online beauty portal AskAliesh.com, she features emerging brands via ingredient reviews, skin care articles, and makeup tutorials. The member-based education division of Ask Aliesh is due to launch Spring 2019.