Our Rating: 4 stars

Reviewed by Marta on July 23, 2012


E’shee’s products are almost ostentatiously simple. There are rarely more than a handful of ingredients and there will be at least one hard-hitting and cutting-edge active. In the case of E'shee Serum Intensive Brightening ($119), it is not E’shee’s usual FGF1 growth factor, but an unusual anti-hyperpigmentation active. Not only is it relatively unknown, it actually seems to work – and more impressively than other skin lighteners that I have tried.

It is called m-tranexamic acid and, although it has been around for quite a few years, this is the first time that I have come across it (although I have now discovered that it is the key ingredient in Shiseido’s Navision line). It inhibits UV induced hyperpigmentation and melanocyte activity.

I read somewhere that it works best on localized areas of irregular melanin distribution – such as a melasma patch or a dark spot – rather than lightening the overall skin tone. The reason given was that “tranexamic acid acts against stimuli… external (or internal)… that causes abnormal or excessive melanin production.”

Most of the research on m-tranexamic acid – which is a derivative of the amino acid lysine – is on its role in reducing heavy bleeding. 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.

In a study in 2008, it was found that tranexamic acid improved the pigmentation in 20 subjects with melasma (80%) and 6 subjects (75%) with freckles over a 5 to 18 week period. The researchers claimed that it also prevented the appearance of new pigment spots and freckles. Ultimately, they concluded that it requires at least two months of topical application to see results.

That was certainly my experience with E’shee Serum Intensive Brightening. I have been using it for three months in the evenings. I have been targeting some freckles (I have millions to choose from) and a “leopard spot” that I have had most of my adult life. I can see a marked difference and there has been no darkening of them, despite the summer sunshine. The fading is noticeable, but it has to be said that it is subtle. This is fine by me as I realize that dark spots are very hard to treat safely and I believe that a patient and diligent application for a year is probably what’s needed. I’m up for that. At least this skin lightener – unlike most others – seems to have the potential to make that worthwhile.

Like most of E’shee’s products, this comes in a diminutive 0.34fl oz bottle. However, based on how little has been used, careful targeting where needed will allow me to use it for  a good 9 months, perhaps even a year.

The concise ingredient list includes ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which is said to work synergistically with tranexamic acid. Although I recommend this product for its effectiveness and for the fact that it did not irritate my sensitive skin, I would prefer it not contain the irritant propylene glycol and the possible carcinogen linalool.

Ingredients: Propylene Glycol, Ethoxydiglycol, Diglycerin, Ascorbic Acid, m-Tranexamic Acid, Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) Oil, D-Limonene, Citral, Linalool