Anything called Brightening Mask has my name on it, and I made an unseemly grab for M.A.D Radiant Brightening Mask ($38) as soon as a sample arrived in the Truth In Aging office. I am glad that I did as this complexion refresher does double duty as a night cream and over time seems to even out skin tone.

Like most of M.A.D’s formulas, this mask aims to succeed with a combination of vitamins and well-chosen botanicals. A key active is phyllanthus emblica, otherwise known as Indian gooseberry and, according to studies, has the ability to regulate melanin production in the skin, reducing age spots and preventing photoaging and sun damage.

Indian gooseberry has tons of vitamin C, which is likely responsible for the extract’s skin lightening capabilities. M.A.D’s Brightening mask also has the brand’s favorite vitamin C complex of Stay C 50 (sodium ascorbyl phosphate) with ascorbyl glucoside and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP). These are stable, potent and relatively gentle forms of vitamin C.

Bearberry is a natural source of the skin lightener alpha arbutin. Licorice root is also thought to be a useful active against skin discoloration, although there isn’t much research to back this up. However, it is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Other extracts with antioxidant properties include apricot kernel, strawberry and black current seed oils, and pine bark, to name but a few. It should also be noted that there is a touch of silicone, a couple of PEGs and the usual suspects in the preservative department.

I’ve been using Radiant Brightening Mask as an overnight cream as well as a rinse off after 10 minutes. It really does leave the skin looking nourished and the avocado oil base (after water) provides hydration and useful fatty acids. After using it about three times a week for the past month, I would say that it does give a dewy glow and an overall (slightly) lighter tone.

A good complement to Radiant Brightening Mask is M.A.D Spot On ($42 in the shop), a serum for targeting specific dark spots and areas of discoloration, which has the above mentioned vitamin C complex, peptides and skin lightening extracts.

Ingredients: Water, Persea gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Prunus Amygdalus dulcis (Almond) Oil, Titanium Dioxide, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Phyllanthus emblica Fruit Extract, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Dimethicone, PEG-40 Stearate, Beeswax, PEG-100 Stearate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Runus armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Fragaria ananassa (Strawberry) Seed Oil, Ribes nigrum (Black Current) Seed Oil, Sambucus nigra (Elderberry) Seed Oil, Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Uva ursi (Bearberry) Extract, Morus nigra (Mulberry) Fruit Extract, Vitis vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract, Pinus pinaster (Pine) Bark Extract, Vaccinium angustifolium (Blueberry) Extract, Citrus paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Oil, Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Xanthan Gum, Triethanolamine, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Bisulfite