The harsh reality hit me in the middle of a facial. While removing a masque from my face, the esthetician remarked, "You have some hyperpigmentation on your forehead." Up until that moment, I had been in denial about the age spots that had surreptiously accumulated on my forehead. I had tried to overlook the cluster of brown spots on my forehead near the hairline that had surfaced in the mirror one morning. There was no more denying it- I was the victim of premature aging.

Why hadn't I worn more hats in my youth? What product could possibly save me from a lifetime of atoning for my sun-soaked sins? I turned to PRESCRIBEDsolutions [customized skincare], a line of a physician-administered anti-aging cosmeceuticals. Its skin lightening system incorporates a glycolic antioxidant cleanser, an anti-aging night cream, and most potent of all, a skin brightening serum called A Bolt of Lightening.  After trying the full regimen for well over a month, I am delighted to report that the age spots are gradually fading, now faintly visible only under the telltale glare of a bright light.

Though I have to pay tribute to all three steps for my skin-lightening success, I am fairly certain that the bulk of the credit goes to A Bolt of Lightening. This concentrated serum delivers a bevy of powerful brightening ingredients, none of which have anything to do with hydroquinone. Between natural antioxidants and active extracts, the formula does a double duty of evening skin tone by both breaking up excess melanin deposits and inhibiting the production of new melanin.

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.

There are also key botanical extracts with proven lightening properties. Derived from the koji fungus, koji acid has been shown to block the production of melanin in the deep cells of the skin, thus lightening dark areas and restoring a healthy complexion. Meanwhile, the formula's combination of arbutin, a bio-engineered antioxidant extracted from mountain cranberry leaves, and mulberry extract reduce the creation of pigments such as melanin and lentigines by slowing enzyme activity. Working in synergy with arbutin, azelaic acid, a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agent found in wheat, rye, and barley, inhibits the production of tyrosinase that leads to hyperpigmentation.

Even though the formula has been tested for allergies and has shown to be non-irritating, the serum's packaging cautions consumers from using if they are sensitive to any of the ingredients. You might want to be wary of the serum's high content of denatured alcohol (the second ingredient after water), which can be very drying and irritating. Moreover, studies have shown that alcohol can generate free radical damage. Some other ingredients to watch out for are disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, and hexylene glycol, all potential irritants. Be sure to test on a patch of skin before spreading over your entire face and try to avoid any exposed or inflamed areas.

Ingredients:

Water (Aqua/Eau), Alcohol Denat., Propylene Glycol, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Sorbitol, Kojic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Berberis Vulgaris Extract, Mulberry (Morus Alba) Leaf Extract, Hexylresorcinol, Arbutin, Salicylic Acid (Beta Hydroxy Acid), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Azelaic Acid, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Hexylene Glycol