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Five Best for lightening and brightening skin

March 31, 2009 Reviewed by Marta 19 Comments

A dull-as-dishwater complexion is more aging than wrinkles. At least in my humble opinion. My own first sign of aging was definitely the onset of a drab, grayish tinge to my cheeks. My skin was starting to look as flat and dismal as the London skies. These days I live in sunny NYC and, although I am far from wrinkle free, I honestly think that I've got a brighter, healthier, dare I even say more radiant skin tone than I had ten years ago. People rarely, if ever, tell me I look much younger than I am - and they'd be lying if they did because I don't. However, if I can immodestly say it here, people frequently tell me I have really great skin (even my dentist and she's never nice to me about anything) and that I look really well. And that's good enough for me. So here's some of TIA's tried and trusted to get your skin out of the doldrums.

IMAGE Skincare Ageless Total Anti-Aging Serum ($40). No further clarification is needed. This simply works. I am on my fourth bottle and I'm always giving them away to the dull and deserving. Expect a brief tingle on application, but please don't be put off because if I (a dermatological Princess and the Pea) can enjoy this product then it is likely you can. It is due to the glycolic and lactic acids (there's also a bit of malic from apple juice for good measure) doing their exfoliation thing. There are soothing aloe vera and arnica, as well as some antioxidant grape seed, yeast and algae. I like the inclusion of artemesia vulgaris (mugwort), which can bring on vivid dreams - although I imagine that you'd have to ingest it. More on point, it is supposed to reduce acne scars. For some reason (at least for me), the bottle doesn't hold its shape and after a few weeks of morning squeezing it looks as if it has been backed over by a truck. I've not yet found a good online source, so will resort to giving you my esthetician's website - email or call and they will ship anywhere.

Suki Intensive Brightening Cream ($55). When I look at the ingredients, I'm not really sure why this should work so well - but this has put a spring back in my skin's step. I started to use it to freshen up the backs of my hands and, much to my surprise, I found it to be a freckle fader. The key active is a time-released vitamin C. There's no oily stuff, so this is a useful product if you are prone to breakout. There is, however, rose hip - an unsung ingredient in my view - that is high in (fatty) linoleic and linolenic acids as well as vitamin C, all of which are essential for the health of the hair and skin. Now that I come to think about it, one of Suki's secret weapons might be symphtutum officinale, or comfrey. This is high in tannic acid, which helps blood to clot and diminishes redness. I haven't used it as such, but this could work for dark under eye circles as well.

Juice Beauty Green Apple Body Peel ($49). Emerging from the weight of winter woollies, our neglected bodies can be as dry and dusty as an unvisited attic. Try Juice Beauty's Green Apple Body Peel and feel as if you've been spring cleaned. The base of all Juice Beauty's products is apple juice and its here that malic acid is found. Overall this product has a nice balance of exfoliators and nourishers. There are glycolic, citric and lactic acids to do the peeling job. Plus retinyl palmitate (vitamin A). Actually, you don't peel at all. You apply a thin layer to your body, wait 10 minutes and rinse off. The result is smoother feeling, brighter looking skin. The package warns that it might tingle - not an experience I had. The nourishing part comes from anti-oxidant grape juice, alga, aloe and vitamin C. BTW, this is good for curbing chest and back breakouts.

3Lab Perfect Glow Complex ($95). Claire loved this when she tested it. It's on the pricey side, so if you are inclined to pass then at least check out the actives and look out for them in other products. Niacinimide is a derivative of Vitamin B3 that suppresses melanin from reaching the surface of the skin and protects the skin from further UV damage. What’s more, studies do show that it works for brightening the skin: Lumiskin, or diacetyl boldine, is another highly effective skin brightening ingredient that has been extracted from the bark of the Chilean Boldo tree. In cosmetic formulas it helps to lighten skin and control hyper-pigmentation by stabilizing the enzyme tyrosinase in its inactive form before it can catalyze into melanin. In addition, it will work to lighten the appearance of already-pigmented skin such as with melasma.

PRESCRIBEDsolutions Bolt of Lightening. This is one of the heavy guns. Copley professes great results from this (part of a three product system) serum. It delivers a bevy of powerful brightening ingredients, none of which have anything to do with hydroquinone. An innovative enzyme inhibitor, hexylresorcinol, is the serum’s star spot-fading ingredient. Due to its anaethetic, antiseptic, and antihelmintic properties, this chemical compound has been used for years in oral products such as toothpaste and throat lozenges. In vivo studies conducted on .5% hexylresorcinol in 2007 demonstrated lightening results that were just as effective as 2% hydroquinone over an eight-week period. Despite its newness in the skin lightening arena, hexylresorcinol has been proven safe for topical application.

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Ingredients in IMAGE Skincare Ageless

Water, aloe barbendensis leaf extract, lactic acid, glycolic acid, sodium hyaluronate, algae extract, artemesia vulgaris, polysorbate 20, hydroxyethylcellulose, phospholipids, cucumber, arnica montana, yeast (faex) extract, chamomile, grape seed, spearmint oil, eucalyptus leaf oil, disodium EDTA, malic acid.

Ingredients in Suki Intensive Brightening

Organic chamomile (anthemis nobilis), calendula (calendula officinalis) & rose (rosa centifolia) infusions (agua), organic jojoba oil (simmondsia chinensis), organic concentrated food grade aloe vera (aloe barbadensis), organic comfrey extract (symphtutum officinale), organic evening primrose (oenothera biennis), rose hip seed (rosa canina), sunflower (helianthus annus) & rice germ (oryza sativa) oils, 100% natural beeswax (cera alba), time-release vitamin c glucoside (ascorbic acid glucoside), active yeast collagen extract (saccharomyces lysate), organic calendula (calendula officinalis), chamomile (anthemis nobilis) & lavender (lavandula angustifolia) extracts, organic rose wax (rosa canina), organic fair trade shea butter (butyrospermum parkii), organic rose extract (rosa canina), standardized green tea (camellia sinensis) & grapeseed (vitis vinifera) extracts, organic non-gmo lecithin (lecithin), cetearyl alcohol (cetearyl alcohol), food grade xanthan (xanthan) & arabic (acacia catechu) gums, aroma (pure premium steam distilled essential oil)

Ingredients in Juice Beauty
Organic Juices Of Pyrus Malus (Apple) Juice (Malic), Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Juice (Citric) & Vitis Vinifera (White Grape) Juice (Tartaric), Organic Saccharum Officinarum (Glycolic Acid), Organic Milk Peptides (Lactic Acid), Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Sodium Hydroxide, Organic Algae Extract, Sclerotium Gum, Tocopheryl Acetate & Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Phospholipids, Magnesium Aspartate, Zinc Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Xanthan Gum, Azulene

Ingredients in 3Lab

Water (Aqua/Eau), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Niacinamide, Arbutin, Alcohol, Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, Panthenol, Magnesium Asorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Butylene Glycol, Diacetyl Boldine, Human Oligopeptide-9, Pinus Pinaster (Pine) Bark Extract, Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Extract, Allantoin, Polyglyceryl-10 Oleate, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Tocopherol, Tocopherol Acetate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Bisabolol, Propylene Glycol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Metabisulfite, Lysolecithin, Lecithin, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Chloride, EDTA, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol

  • June 9, 2011

    by Marta

    Hi Rachel, so far I think the best sun spots is Lumixyl with green LED light (YBF Prep also helps). I still think that the best eye cream for dark circles is Your Best Face Correct, but ReLuma is also good. Hope that helps, but push me if not!

  • June 8, 2011

    by Rachel Delery

    Hi Marta,

    I have been a member of your newsletter for years. I just started getting some melasma spots from too much sun for the first time. I would really like to use the "big guns" to knock it out before it gets worse. Can you please give me your recommendations? The site has so much info it gets overwhelming! Also what is your recommendation for puffy/ dark circle eye cream?

  • January 15, 2011

    by Jeanette Rebeske


    Those Image skincare prices are not correct. I am an esthetician that sells Image, and the Biopeptide moisturizer is $59.90, the Total Anti Aging Serum is $50.50 and the Max Serum is $89.90. I'm not even sure what the Dermophisiologique Optyma is but it is not an Image product that I am aware of. Just wanted to let you know the correct pricing because Image is phenomenal skin care and I think you would love it!

  • June 23, 2010

    by Femke

    Thank you Marta! I'll be ordering the Intensive Brightening Cream soon, together with the delicious foaming cleanser!

  • June 10, 2010

    by marta

    Hi Femke, sorry about the confusing picture (we'll change that). The one I used was the Intensive Brightening Cream.

  • June 10, 2010

    by Femke

    Hi Marta,

    I was wondering about trying the Suki Intensive Brightening Cream. The picture posted with your text is the 'Targeted bio-brightening face serum' though. That last one has licorice to even discolorations. So which one did you actually use? The cream ore the serum? I have some discolorated patches on my forhead and above my upper lip that I would like to brighten somewhat if possible. Preferably with organic products. Any other tips are very welcome! I live in the Netherlands, so it is sometimes hard to find products that are shipped to where I live.

  • August 25, 2009

    by marta

    Michelle, IMAGE must have recently increased its prices. It is not an eye cream. It is a glycolic that will help with acne. You are way too young for Reluma, Glo or A&G - they are for wrinkle repair. Burts Bees has a new line for acne reviewed <a href="" rel="nofollow">here</a>. <a href="" rel="nofollow">Vitamin B</a> may help too. And <a href="" rel="nofollow">Pevonia</a> has a good line called spateen that includes products for acne.

  • August 25, 2009

    by Michelle

    Hi Marta,

    I have the same concern as Janice. I e-mailed Idli for Image Skincare, and some other products you recommended, but the prices were much higher than what's listed in the reviews. This is what Edina wrote me back,

    " Hi Michelle,

    Thank you for your interest.
    The Dermophisiologique Optyma is an eye-cream ($87)

    (I thought this was listed under the most updated "5 best MOISTURIZERS" list?)

    The Bio Peptide moisturizer is $82 and to recommend any moisturizer Ildi needs to know your skin type.

    The Image Ageless Total Anti- Aging is a Serum to help reduce fine lines($71). The company just came out with a newer version of this called Ageless the MAX($98)

    Please let me now which one you need and I will ship it to you.
    Best Regards,

    I thought Image was an eye cream, or a brightener. Perhaps she's referring to fine lines around the eyes? I'm confused about what it is, or what it's good for now. If it's going to cost nearly $100 for Image, then shouldn't I just spend the extra $20 and get REluma or Glo Therapeutics or even A&G? I'm looking for a good eye cream, as well as a good serum. Then again, I've been breaking out for some reason lately, and it's not going away! I don't think I've ever had acne problems this badly or for this long before. I'm not sure what's wrong or how to remedy it. Clean & Clear facial wash usually works for me, but it's not working this time around. I'm scared. So maybe I should just spend the $90 and get Image since everyone seems to say it helps w/ acne? If anyone has any suggestions, it would be greatly appreciated!

  • August 11, 2009

    by Janice

    I just ordered image from idli pekar but it was $90 and not $40 :( I really want to try it for recurrent acne so I got it anyways.

  • April 2, 2009

    by marta

    Yes Lindi, we have tried Dermalogics's Chromawhite and it didn't work for us. Here's our review: You should check out comments in our community forums as well.

  • April 2, 2009

    by Lindi

    Has anyone tried Dermalogica's new ChromaWhite system? It's a full range of brightening and lightening products. The C-12 Concentrate and Extreme C products are particularly good.

  • April 1, 2009

    by dmpond25

    Thanks Marta! I will try the Image product once my skin calms down.

    Justine--I have the same issue as you and find if I limit the quantity of product I put on my eye area the milia go away. I have been using YBF around my eyes and only put on 1/2 pump for both eyes. Just a suggestion since you like the product so much. :)

  • March 31, 2009

    by Sandra

    Marta, I can't wait to hear how Restore fares for you! I think it's the most undervalued YBF product because it's so versatile; one product can do face, neck, and eyes with beautiful results and it takes so little product to do it! :)

  • March 31, 2009

    by marta


    I am testing Restore right now. The early signs are good and it may well make it into the updated Five Best Brighteners. In any event, I'll be posting a review of Restore in a few weeks.

  • March 31, 2009

    by marta


    I would think that IMAGE would be ideal if you are prone to breakouts. It's a gel and all that glycolic acid will help a lot on the anti-zit front.

    I've had milia with some eye creams but never YBF. However, I am amazed to hear the rate at which people seem to go through stuff. So I am beginning to think that, in general, people slather too much cream on. Most products last me for months (like 5 or 6). A smear of something (with powerful ingredients) should suffice.

  • March 31, 2009

    by justine

    Hi, Marta,

    I have the same question as Dana basically. I am prone to milia and something I have been using of late seems to be causing me to break out. I actually think it might be the YBF products. I love them, but they are really rich for my skin, so I think I will have to use more sparingly. It's a shame because I do agree with Sandra that they are wonderful.

  • March 31, 2009

    by Dana Pond

    Would you use Image over Suki if you have oily acne prone skin? I like that Image will fade acne scars.


  • March 31, 2009

    by Sandra

    It's really hard to go wrong with YBF Restore for brightening. Also serves as a very nice eye cream. I love this product!

  • March 31, 2009

    by Lori

    The Juice Beauty body wash and body moisturizer are also very nice. I got them along with a small bottle of the body peel as a set. They all have some exfoliating properties, and the moisturizer has spf as well.

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