Lightening and Brightening Agents: Everyone is addicted to fair, radiant, and wrinkle-free bright skin. The ethical debate around the aesthetic appeal for white skin and a coherent bias for it is rightly ongoing. Maturity in societal thinking and a more holistic approach towards beauty have now made bright and healthy skin more desirable and pleasing, rather than its color. In fact, healthy skin of dusky and dark color is now considered much more beautiful, akin to healthy body weight to anorexic starved look.
Clean, disease-free, smooth, bright, and flawless skin will never go out of vogue. Before shopping for any cosmetic product we tend to explore the claims they make and often with our limited knowledge we tend to get hoodwinked by the claims, unproven clinical studies, jargons, and quick fix magical transformations advertised by celebrities. Hence still, buying a cosmetic product without key ingredients for skin improvement, brightening, and lightening function feels like wasted money.
Several cosmetics are famous for their skin lightening and skin brightening functions that claim to be the best treatment of hyperpigmentation and skin blemishes. But can we go in-depth and know for sure, its effectiveness and that of any side effects on our precious skin? Yes, we can.
It’s important that we study what constitutes such cosmetics, it’s genesis and its effectiveness on our skin and body. Knowing more about why skin changes its colour and key tenets on which it’s reversal shall be handy for us, before we plunge into binge buying based on the lofty claims certain brands profess. As it is a slow process, at the end it comes down to marketing, branding and less about a cause and effect relation. Let’s learn and then make our choices, the right educated choices.
Skin colour in human body varies with race and part of body. It reflects the pigments present in the skin which includes melanin, melanoid, carotene, oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin. It also depends upon the water content, thickness of skin layer and season.
Melanin is the most important pigment which determines skin colour. Melanin is synthesized in the melanosome organelles in the melanocyte cells and then melanin is transferred to nearby keratinocytes via dendrites of melanocytes. The pathway for melanin synthesis can be understood by the following flowchart:
The amino acid tyrosine is oxidized to dopa and then to dopaquinone due to action of tyrosinase and then reaction progresses by auto-oxidation and is accelerated by enzymes.
Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition in which patches are formed which are dark in colour than the rest of the skin. These patches are formed on face, neck and around the mouth. This occurs due to abnormal increase in the amount of melanin that leads to formation of freckles and patches. The reasons behind abnormal increase in melanin formation is due to damage to the melanocyte cell or when the tyrosinase enzyme is over activated due to sun exposure. The melanin production increases and leads to blemishes, spots and hyperpigmentation.
The skin lightening agents works by reducing the melanin pigment on the skin. There are several mechanism of skin lightening agents as mentioned below:
Hydroquinone was considered as the most effective skin-lightening ingredient. But recent studies have shown the toxicity and carcinogenicity of hydroquinone. Due to this, there is a need for safer and better skin-lightening agents in the market. Some of them are mentioned here:
Niacinamide is one of the most stable vitamins. This is freely water soluble and solution is light stable. It is used to to fade age spots and lighten discoloration of the skin. It reduces the melanin transfer from melanocytes to skin surface. It actively reduces blemishes and spots and is non-irritating to the skin. It is also known to treat acne, wrinkle, fine lines and dry skin.
Arbutin is a natural form of hydroquinone derived from the bearberry plant. This is a safer and effective alternative to hydroquinone and is less cytotoxic to the melanocytes. It is stable, water-soluble, and used is in low concentrations. It reduces melanin production by suppressing the enzymes that stimulate melanin.
Beta arbutin is natural and is derived from bearberry, cranberry, blueberry, and pears. It is water-soluble, stable, and is used in the concentration from 1-7%. It reduces hyperpigmentation by reducing melanin formation.
MAP is a stable derivative of vitamin C and an effective antioxidant for the skin. . It is nonirritating and more stable than vitamin C. It appears to have the same potential as vitamin C to boost skin collagen synthesis but is effective in significantly lower concentrations. It appears to be a better choice than vitamin C for people with sensitive skin and those wishing to avoid any concomitant exfoliating effects.
Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate is a stable vitamin C derivative. It liberates vitamin C in the skin and protects the cells of the skin, promotes collagen formation, controls the formation of senile keratosis, and lightens dark skin. SAP is cleaved enzymatically in the skin to release active vitamin. It protects the cells against free radicals, boost collagen formation, and acts as antioxidant.
V-CoS is a stable, oil-soluble Vitamin C derivative. It is stable against heat and light and is lipid-soluble, easy to use for cosmetics. Exhibits excellent percutaneous absorption and effectively converts into free vitamin C in the skin to perform various physiological functions. It inhibit tyrosinase activity and reduces melanin. It has anti-aging effects, promotes collagen synthesis and reduce UVA and UVB damage.
γ-PGA is a viscous liquid and is active ingredient of natt made from soyabean ferment. It has capability of penetrating into the stratum corneum, making the skin brighter. It is also known for treating skin wrinkles, promote elasticity and softeness to skin.
Skin whitening agent and is composed of – Scutellaria baicalensis, citrus junos seed extract, lactobacillus ferment, Niacinamide (Vit B3). It restrains the formation of melanin and gives visible skin lightening effect. It also has antioxidant activities and protect from UV damage. The ingredient prevent the melanin transfer and reduces hyperpigmentation.
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