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The Best New Skin Brightening Ingredients

Woman with radiant skin
May 2, 2017 Reviewed by TIA Community Member 0 Comments

Radiant skin — and therefore skin brightening treatments — are trending. I believe that a reason for this is that lightening ingredients are becoming cleverer at being stable, safe and effective. There’s no longer a reason to resort to harsh bleaching creams in hopes of an even skin tone. All of this came to mind over the weekend when I started to test the new Brightening Concentrate from Your Best Face. It came with a note from Darrell Owens, the founder and chief formulator, on how he’d had a personal breakthrough in finding a new form of kojic acid. It really does seem quite innovative, and here are some more examples that I find intriguing.

Not your mother’s kojic acid

Kojic acid is a reliable brightener and fader of hyperpigmentation, but notoriously unstable. Like the original forms of vitamin C, it degrades and discolors in contact with light. There is now a new stable form called kojic acid dipalmitate, which is the basis of YBF’s Brightening Concentrate ($32 in the shop). It is an oil soluble form that does not degrade with heat, light, air or contact with metals. What’s more, kojic dipalmitate is said to be more efficacious than kojic acid in inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase and melanin formation.

Medik8 tackles the kojic acid stability issue in cool way. In White Balance Click ($80 in the shop), kojic acid is stored in the top part of the product’s lid and is released by a “click” mechanism on use to ensure the acid retains its potency. You’ll also find naturally-sourced kojic acid, typically from fungi. Sciote’s Illume Brightening Serum has 5 percent kojic acid from reishi mushrooms, plus 3 percent glycolic acid and 1 percent salicylic acid.

Brightening peptides

There are new discoveries around peptides, too, and a recent one goes by the name of B-White. This oligopeptide-68 is said to inhibit tyrosinase activity, inhibit melanin synthesis and decrease the proteins involved in the pigmentation process. The maker of B-white says that it mimics the growth factor TGF-ß and so, unlike many brightening agents, it doesn’t rely alone on inhibiting tyrosinase, which is the enzyme primarily responsible for skin pigmentation. Behaving like a TGF-ß, it also “inhibits the action of the MITF cellular pathway to decrease constitutive and facultative pigmentation, allowing for a safe lightening effect.” I came across this brightening peptide in Skin 2 Skin Photoaging Repair ($69 in the shop).

GenoWhite is the marketing name for the peptide acetyl glycyl ß-alanine, which I became familiar with in Deciem WhiteRX ($43 in the shop). It is effective for melanin reduction and inhibiting melanin-generating enzymes, tyrosinase, TRP-1 and TRP-2. And, according to the manufacturer, results can be seen within two weeks.


There are a couple of antioxidants that have the ability to prevent discoloration as a result of exposure to UV light and also boost the body’s resistance to hyperpigmentation. Gaining increasing credibility as brightening ingredients are the antioxidants ferulic acid and glutathione. Ferulic acid is a key ingredient in brightening serums by Dr. Dennis Gross. Studies show it is extremely effective at preventing photodamage, and when paired with vitamin E, it can help lighten skin. Glutathione binds to Tyrosinase and helps prevent the enzymatic pathways from producing melanin while also reducing free radicals in the body that are responsible for creating spots. It is used to boost the effects of the vitamin C and E in Medik8 CE-Thione ($150 in the shop). 

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