Our Rating: 4 stars

MAD Illuminating Daily Moisturizer (1.7 oz/$50 in the shop) describes itself as a “lightweight daily moisturizer,” but don’t expect something that is watery or unsubstantial. MAD is a line that formulates for aging skin and this daily moisturizer feels nourishing without being at all heavy or greasy, and it is a good companion to MAD’s Spot On hyperpigmentation serum.

Indeed, they share a good many ingredients, including the all-important skin-lightening actives. I would say that Spot On (which is actually fading an age spot on my hand) is ideal for targeting specific areas of hyperpigmentation and the Daily Moisturizer, for all over (face, hands, décolleté).

One of the key actives is B-White, a combination of amino acids derived from a growth factor (TGF-b). The result is a peptide called oligopeptide-68. The peptide binds to the TGF-b receptor in skin cells to inhibit the enzymes involved in skin pigmentation. The other is Lumiskin, also known as diacetyl boldine. Extracted from the bark of the Chilean Boldo tree, this is another skin-lightening agent.

Some of the botanicals have skin-lightening powers as well: Bearberry is a natural source of melanin-inhibiting arbutinlicorice root, which also has antioxidant properties; and mulberry, an inhibitor of tyrosinase. Also useful is strawberry seed as this seems to be a natural sunscreen. Blackcurrant seed oil is an impressive source of omega-6 and an anti-inflammatory, while elderberry is an antioxidant.

Those seeking a natural product will be put off by some silicones, copolymers, a PEG, laureth and three potentially irritating preservatives. If these don’t especially bother you then MAD’s Brightening series, Spot On and the Illuminating Daily Moisturizer are effective without demanding a big dollar outlay.

Ingredients: Water, Propanediol, Runus armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Cyclopentasiloxane, Squalane, Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Niacinamide, DI-C12-15 Alkyl Fumarate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Panthenol, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Oligopeptide-68, Diacetyl Boldine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Chamomilla recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Uva ursi (Bearberry) Fruit Extract, Morus nigra (Mulberry) Fruit Extract, Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Phyllanthus emblica Fruit Extract, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Fragaria ananassa (Strawberry) Seed Oil, Ribes nigrum (Black Current) Seed Oil, Sambucus nigra (Elderberry) Seed Oil, Citrus aurantium bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Dimethiconol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Acrylates/C0-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Sodium Oleate, Lecithin, Sorbitol, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Metabisulfite, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol.