A new launch from Chanel called Le Blanc Targeted Brightening Spot Corrector ($98) caught my eye the other day. This is a dark spot remover, skin whitener and is supposed to be based on a cutting-edge new active. In Chanel’s own words, this is a “revolutionary high-tech brightening ingredient [called] the TXC molecule.”

I found this very intriguing and on searching the ingredients list, which is mostly preservatives and licorice extract, I concluded that this TXC molecule must be the ingredient listed as Cetyl Tranexamate HCL. This took my research path up a couple of blind alleys and I began to think that it existed only on Planet Chanel. And then something about it rang a distant bell and it turns out that this TXC molecule isn’t so unique to Chanel after all.

Tranexamic acid is the key active in E’shee’s Intensive Brightening Serum and, indeed, seems to be a dark spot fader and complexion brightener. Chanel says that it works by being activated by a “precious enzyme called esterase, naturally present in skin cells.”

Actually, tranexamic acid is much more interesting than that. Most of the research on tranexamic acid – which is a derivative of the amino acid lysine – is on its role in reducing heavy bleeding. What’s that got to do with my age spots, you may ask.

Surprisingly, the mechanism by which it reduces bleeding and age spots is similar. When tranexamic acid stops bleeding, it is blocking the conversion of plasminogen to plasmin. And it decreases melanocyte tyrosinase activity (thereby dealing with age spots and hyperpigmentation) by preventing the binding of plasminogen to the keratinocytes, ultimately reducing inflammatory mediators. It turns out that inflammatory cells are more abundant at the site of an age spot than at normal skin.

Like anything else aimed at treating dark spots, this ingredient requires patience (think months, not weeks). I’ve found E’shee’s Intensive Brightening to have an effect, but I’ve been using it for six months now and I would still call the results subtle. Anyway, back to Chanel’s Le Blanc. Whatever it calls its patented molecule, it is an active that isn’t unique to Chanel, but nonetheless of interest.

Ingredients in Le Blanc: Aqua/Water, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Cetyl Tranexamate HCL, Dipropylene Glycol, Squalane, Cetyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Batyl Alcohol, PEG-40 Stearate, Methylparaben, BHT, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Hydrolyzed Conchiolin Protein