Bright, healthy, radiant skin – in whichever way we understand or apply the skincare term, it has turned into its own cult status within the beauty industry. As our skin faces a multitude of harbouring factors such as diet, lifestyle, genetics and environmental stress, it can in fact diminish the skin’s vitality and brightness overall. Whilst Vitamin C has taken centre point as the leading brightening agent – it has meant that other equally potent and efficacious ingredients have had to take a back seat.
Although Vitamin C is a powerhouse and known for its high antioxidant content and combative processes against free radicals, there are agents such as Kojic Acid, Azelaic acid and Liquorice Root Extract that are equally effective at brightening the skin, improving the appearance of pigmentation, evening the skin’s tone and protecting against oxidate stress that can also work wonders in your skincare arsenal.
Brightening the complexion is understood with many different variations, whether having skincare concerns around hyperpigmentation and dark marks or a dull complexion overall, there are a variety of ways in which brightening ingredients can be tailored to a routine.
Discover SKINDAYS guide for the best brightening ingredients for an overall radiant & bright complexion.
A naturally occurring acid that is also derived from wheat, rye and barley, Azelaic supports in skin renewal and helps to reduce spots and blackhead formations. Vastly used for treating acne and rosacea, Azelaic acid is also known for its brightening properties. Within the dermal layers of the skin, it blocks the production of the melanocytes which are inhibited in the melanin production that leads to pigmentation and dark marks.
A chemically produced acid and by-product of foods such as fermented rice or soy sauce, Kojic Acid is adored for its ability to fade dark marks, discolouration and even deliver antioxidant properties. Solely working at preventing pigment production, kojic acid helps to lighten dark marks, fade sunspots, improve the appearance of photodamage and pigmentation that may have surfaced due to acne scarring or melasma. With antioxidant properties, it also counteracts any UV damage or pollution, resulting in a more even skin tone overall.
A major form of Vitamin B, Niacinamide is found in supplements and is an essential ingredient for the correct function of fats and sugars in the body. For the skin in particular, Niacinamide helps to generate the skin’s building blocks, as a cell-communicating ingredient it helps the skin’s cells in renewal that may have been damaged through a loss of moisture, hydration, collagen or elastin breakdown. A key ingredient in fortifying the skin barrier, every skin type can benefit from its repairing and evening properties.
A lesser known yet equally powerful acid, Tranexamic Acid is known for its abilities in reducing the appearance of discolouration on the skin. A synthetic derivative of the amino acid lysine, Tranexamic Acid fades discolouration, brightens the skin and reduces the appearance of acne scars – paired with Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid or Retinol (another great brightening ingredient) it improves the skin’s appearance overall.
LIQUORICE ROOT EXTRACT
A botanical extract derived from the liquorice plant, as a skin brightening agent it supports the skin by preventing the production of tyrosinase which helps with the development of melanin (what gives the skin its colour) and dark spots overall. In addition to prohibiting the production of tyrosinase, it also works by helping to disperse and remove existing excess melanin in the skin – essentially preventing new scarring from forming and fading existing ones.
An exfoliating acid, part of the AHA family, Mandelic acid gently and softly exfoliates the skin, lifting away the dead skin, impurities, dirt and debris that rests on the skin’s surface. Without striping the skin of its essential hydration and moisture – Mandelic acid breaks the bond of the skin’s cells, revealing a brighter and even complexion underneath. Accelerating cellular turnover, strengthening collagen production and acting as a building block for the skin, Mandelic Acid is a widely approved skincare ingredient for evening and brightening the complexion.
WILLOW BARK EXTRACT
A plant extract that is commonly known for its natural salicylic acid-like properties, anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, gently exfoliates, refines pores, reduces oiliness and locks in moisture – all of which contribute to a brighter complexion overall.
Another efficacious AHA that gently exfoliates the skin – Lactic Acid especially treats hyperpigmentation, age spots as well as improves the appearance of dull and congested complexions. Milder than most exfoliating acids, lactic acid is a great option for those with sensitive skin types.
A molecule extracted from the bearberry plant, arbutin is a botanical extract that also inherits the brightening properties by targeting the production of tyrosinase under the skin’s surface. The more superior and as a result, the more effective, alpha arbutin is credited more than beta-arbutin – with sun protecting properties, gentle on the skin, fades scars and improves uneven complexions.