In The Makeup Says: We all know that its not just wrinkles that make you look older; photoaging is to blame too. So we diligently stay out of the sun; until someone invites us on a beachy vacation.
With beachy vacations in mind, here Are 8 Ways, each with its own pros and cons, to take the spotlight off a spot:
Hydroquinone: The gold standard for topical skin lightening in the United States remains hydroquinone. This substance is controversial and has been removed from the OTC markets in Europe and Asia partially because it damages melanocytes (melanocytes make melanin). While hydroquinone can produce results, even the maximum concentration of hydroquinone (4%) will not lighten pigment that is deep in the skin. Current hydroquinone preparations are unable to reach the middle-to-deep dermis where post-inflammatory acne pigmentation may lie.
Find Hydroquinon in: Murad Age Spot & Pigment Lightening Gel
Mequinol. At present, mequinol is only available by prescription. It is unknown exactly how mequinol lightens skin, but it is a competitive inhibitor in the formation of melanin precursors. It does not damage the melanocyte like hydroquinone. However, prescription skin lighteners containing mequinol also contain 0.01% tretinoin as a penetration enhancer; vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid; and ascorbyl palmitate, to enhance skin lightening.
Find Mequinol in: Prescription Solage
Retinoids. Many dermatologists combine hydroquinone with prescription tretinoin to improve skin-lightening results. Tretinoin has an effect on skin pigmentation as seen by a decrease in freckling. Although this effect is more dramatic with topical prescription tretinoin, topical OTC retinol has been thought to provide similar effects. Although Retinoids can help lighten dark spots, they also make the skin more vulnerable to new photoaging, so diligent use of sunscreen is necessary.
Find Retinoids in: Philosophy Help Me Retinol Night Treatment
Ascorbic Acid. Ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, is used in OTC pigment-lightening formulations. By itself, low-concentration ascorbic acid is a poor skin-lightening agent, and is often combined with hydroquinone. In higher concentrations, ascorbic acid can be a strong skin irritant due to its low pH, but may induce pigment-lightening by providing skin peeling in lighter-skinned individuals. High concentrations of ascorbic acid must be avoided in people of color, because the irritation paradoxically will darken the skin.
Find Ascorbic Acid In: JASON C-Lite Skin Tone Balancer
Licorice extract. Licorice extracts are used in many OTC products to lighten skin. It must be applied to the skin in a dose of 1 g/day for four weeks in order to see a clinical result. This may not be practical in OTC formulations because of the expense of such a high concentration. Because the licorice extract is an anti-inflammatory, unlike with hydroquinone, retinoids and ascorbic acid, where irritation is the dose-limiting problem.
Find Licorice Extract In: Godiva LicoWhite Cream
Alpha lipoic acid. Alpha lipoic acid is found in some OTC pigment-lightening preparations. However, its ability to lighten skin is doubtful because it is a large molecule with questionable penetration.
Find Alpha Lipoic Acid In: Aubrey Organics Rosa Mosqueta Night Cream
Kojic acid. Kojic acid is one of the most popular skin-lightening agents found globally in OTC skin-lightening creams. Some studies indicate that kojic acid is equivalent to hydroquinone in pigment-lightening results. The problem with kojic acid is again the ability to penetrate the skin and reach its target. It is possible that penetration-enhancers might overcome some of this difficulty; however, damage to the skin barrier and product irritation are common side effects.
Find Kojic Acid in: Lancome Absolue Skin Care Line
Arbutin. Arbutin is obtained from the leaves of the lingonberry and other related plants. Arbutin is not toxic to melanocytes and is used in a variety of pigment-lightening preparations in Japan at concentrations of 3%. Higher concentrations are more efficacious than lower concentrations, but a paradoxical pigment-darkening may occur due to skin irritation. Synthetic versions of arbutin, such as deoxyarbutin, may offer enhanced efficacy.
Find Arbutin In: Shiseido Whitess Intensive Skin Brightener