Skin lightening agents are commonly used within an everyday skincare to routine to help even out skin tone by getting rid of hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is a common skin problem that can be caused by many different factors. Hyperpigmentation may be a result from acne, hormones, chemical peels, or laser therapy as a post–inflammatory response. It can also be caused by UV light exposure (sun damage) or exposure to certain drugs and chemicals. An important part of the treatment for hyperpigmentation that will help lead to successful outcomes includes avoidance of the sun and daily use of a high-SPF physical sunscreen. In addition, there are many different skin lightening agents that can be used to help treat hyperpigmentation.
- Hydroquinone: Hydroquinone is the most widely used and most successful ingredient for skin lightening. It occurs naturally in many plants, as well as coffee, tea, beer, and wine. It depigments the skin by preventing tyrosine converting to melanin. Melanin is what causes the skin to color. In the US, hydroquinone is available over the counter in strengths up to 2%. Most prescription-strength hydroquinone formulations include about 3-4%. Two products commonly recommended here at Ageless in the Triad Med Spa include Obagi Clear and Obagi Blender. Both of these products contain 4% hydroquinone.
- Kojic Acid: Kojic acid is a more natural ingredient that can be used to help lighten the skin. It is used in concentrations between 1 and 4%. Kojic acid also helps to inhibit tyrosine converting to melanin.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps to interfere with pigment production. It also helps to brighten the skin, thereby creating a more even skin tone. Vitamin C is a great ingredient to incorporate into your skincare routine for these reasons. There are several products here at Ageless in the Triad Med Spa that contain Vitamin C.
- Glycolic Acid: Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid that is derived from sugar cane and has skin-lightening effects. Glycolic acid is a common ingredient found in some chemical peel formulations due to its skin-lightening effects. Using glycolic acid and hydroquinone together has shown to increase efficacy of both agents due to enhanced absorption.
- Retinoids: Retinol and retinoids are derived from Vitamin A. They have been used to treat hyperpigmentation and pigmentary disorders including melisma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Combining retinoids with other skin lighteners, like hydroquinone, has been shown to be effective in treating hyperpigmentation.
At Ageless in the Triad, we carry several products with the ingredients listed above, including:
• Obagi: Clear RX, Blender RX, Tretinoin RX, Vitamin C Serum, Vitamin C Polish, and, of course, sunscreen!
• Environ: C-Quence Serums & AVST Moisturizers (Vitamins A, C, and E)
• Clinicians Complexing Bleaching Cream – Contains hydroquinone and kojic acid
Ashley Schmohl, Nurse Practitioner
Ageless in the Triad Med Spa located in Kernersville NC