When I told my friend Melanie how good her (40-something) skin was looking, she replied that she was using Laser Lightning ($110), a night cream by Dr Brandt. She claimed that Laser Lightning had faded some freckles and I had to agree that her skin tone was radiant and clear. The bolt of lightning that Dr Brandt has given her is the result of some powerful - and unusual - ingredients (including a fermented bacteria of all things).

The key active in Laser Lightning seems to be aminoethylphosphinic acid. This amino acid is known in the cosmetic trade as Albatin and it is supposed to limit some stages of melanogenisis - the process that creates hyperpigmentation or age spots. I don't think this is a miracle skin whitener though as one of the few pieces of research that I could find determined that it was as effective (but not more so) as other whiteners such as kojic acid. In fact, the makers of Albatin suggest that it should be used alongside kojic acid.

Dr Brandt has included another skin whitener, diacetyl boldine, which is extracted the bark of the Chilean boldo tree. Its molecular structure resembles that of stress receptors, which leads many to believe that it has the ability to simultaneously block stress receptors and inhibit the body’s melanin production (skin pigmentation). However, there is no independent research to verify whether it works. Then there is the magic mushroom, tricholoma matsutake singer extract. A free radical scavenger and skin whitener, it is also known as the pine mushroom.

The bacteria in question is bacillus, which has the ability to secrete a large number of enzymes that make their way into detergents and in cosmetics as an exfoliant. Bacillus ferment is supposed to be gentler than alpha hydroxy acids and confines itself to removing only dead skin cells.

Exciting though these ingredients and their results on Melanie's skin are, I would personally hesitate to buy Dr Brandt's Laser Lightning. There are several controversial ingredients, including fullerenes. This is one of those Jekyll and Hyde things that is one of the most powerful radical scavengers known to man whilst also being guilty of causing oxidative stress and liver damage at low doses. Expect to find the usual suspects in the preservative department including four parabens, phenoxyethanol and BHT.


Aqua (water), acrylamide/ammonium acrylate copolymer, glyceryl stearate, cyclopentasiloxane, glycerin, peg-12 glyceryl distearate, caprylic/capric triglyceride, behenyl alcohol, aminoethylphosphinic acid, diacetyl boldine, bacillus ferment, citrus medica limonum (lemon) fruit extract, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, glyceryl polymethacrylate, vitis vinifera (grapeseed) oil, alcohol, tricholoma matsutake singer extract, fullerenes, diisopropyl palmitate, citrus nobilis (mandarin orange) peel oil, camellia oleifera leaf extract, ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/vp copolymer, butylene glycol propylene glycol, lecithin, allantoin, disodium edta, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) oil, bht, glycine soja (soybean) sterols, tocopherol, sodium ascorbate, hydrogenated lecithin, ceramide 3, pvp, peg-40 sorbitan diisostearate, cyclotetrasiloxane, polysorbate 81, peg-15 cocamide, dimethiconol, laureth-9, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, alcohol.