The term “brightening” in the beauty industry is one word you must have come across buying BB creams, facial foam, toners and even sunscreen. It can mean so many different things and has been used to mean many things indeed, as can be seen through its use by various beauty brands, influencers, magazines etc.
While brightening most commonly refers to lightening, it is also used to describe the lowering of melanin production or the lifting of the skin’s natural pigment out of the skin to create a fairer effect.
Brightening can also refer to increasing cell regeneration so as to promote the formation of new skin cells, hastening the shedding of dull uppermost skin layers and reveal the new skin beneath.
To find out what “brightening” specifically means in a product, the most effective way is to take a look at their ingredient list and see how the product aims to achieve the effect.
Before we delve into the ingredients, let’s talk about why you should brighten yourself up.
The Benefits of Brightening
As mentioned earlier, brightening effects can reduce and/or erasure pigment spots as a result of scars, acne and UV exposure, among other reasons. You may possess skin that is more prone to developing dark spots or have melasma, a skin condition that causes pigment patches to appear on various parts of your skin.
If you fall under any of the categories, your beauty weaponry should always include brighteners.
Brightening products contain many ingredients that actually do double-duty in that not only do they brighten your skin, but they also moisturise the skin and provide antioxidative effects to counter free radical damage. Because of this, many users of brightening products love them not so much for their ability to fix skin “problems,” but that they can give their skin that coveted glow commonly associated with a tropical holiday or a good night’s sleep.
While there are countless benefits to brightening, it is no elixir and there exist drawbacks if you mismanage your skincare regimen. Certain brightening products are less effective on darker skin tones, so you will have to be mindful to not over-correct your dark spots by making them brighter than your normal skin tone. Thus, it is highly recommended to apply a brightening product on your entire face instead of “spot-treating”.
Another thing you should pay attention to is the list of ingredients. Not every brightener is the same and some ingredients and methods of application may not have been thoroughly tested for their effects on the skin, and that is not to mention on our health.
Brightening Ingredients To Watch Out For
Many brightening products have hydroquinone, which is an ingredient that bleaches the skin. While it can be safe for lighter skin tones, it can affect those with darker skin tones adversely and it can go from bad to worse if you are to actually spot-treat and end up with a polka-dotted skin!
The safety of hydroquinone has been a topic of concern and it is still inconclusive if it is harmful or not to human health and looks.
Ingredients To Embrace
Instead of taking a gamble with hydroquinone, it is actually recommended that you go for vitamin C products which are safer for your skin — its effects are characterised as more of lightening and fading instead of bleaching. Not to mention, vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that essential for fighting free radicals, promoting collagen-production and strengthening your immune system!
Glycolic acid is also an ingredient helpful for brightening since it is an effective exfoliant to remove damaged surface skin layers to reveal the healthy new skin beneath, naturally brightening the skin. For those with sensitive skin, products with lactic acid are good options to do the same but are more friendly to sensitive skin.
Other ingredients you should have in a brightener include extracts of liquorice, vitamin B3 or niacinamide, retinol, and AHA and BHA.
Recently, melanozyme and kojic acid, both helping to lighten skin tone and fade dark spots without bleaching your skin, have been given the spotlight as well for their ability to brighten the skin safely.
Cosmetic Procedures That Brighten the Skin
If you have been ritualistically applying brightening products but see no results, consider seeing a dermatologist to find out more options.
Certain types of dark spots respond slowly to topical treatments but could be more responsive to treatments that penetrate deeper into the layers. While there are many options available, not all are suitable; your skin type, the cause of spots and other factors concerning your health and lifestyle will determine which is the right one for you.
Some common procedures that can help in brightening your skin include chemical peels, IPL (intense pulse light), lasers, microdermabrasion and photofacials. Intravenous glutathione, very recent skin brightening treatment, has become more popular as well, although its safety and effectiveness is yet to be determined due to insufficient data, although many users have lauded its results.
One of our favourite procedures is the chemical peel. Not only will it help to brighten your skin by exfoliating the darkened and damaged outer layers of your skin, but it also stimulates collagen production.
In addition, chemical peels can help to reduce the appearance of pores, prevent acne and soften the appearance of skin discolouration too.