A few days ago, L’Oreal announced that they were dropping words like “whitening”, “fair”, and “light” from their products. The decision came a day after Unilever did it in reaction to the social media criticism it faced. Johnson & Johnson also followed suit and committed to stop selling skin whitening creams sold across Asia and the Middle East under its Neutrogena and Clean & Clear brands.
With beauty giants like L’Oreal, Unilever, and Johnson & Johnson making the public commitment to stop using words like “whitening”, “fair”, and “light”, it’s becoming more and more clear that beauty is no longer a standalone concept. There’s a dimensional approach to beauty where people look to brands for its ethical, sustainable, and even cultural implications.
Is “skin whitening” the same as “skin brightening”?
If you’ve been familiar with Asian beauty products for a while now, you’ve likely seen the term on Korean or Japanese beauty products. Generally speaking, for K-beauty and J-beauty products, “skin whitening” products are formulated to give you more radiant and luminescent skin. The phrase speaks more accurately to the texture and health of the skin, not necessarily a lighter colour.
When it comes to most K-beauty and J-beauty products, the term “skin whitening” is generally used interchangeably with the term “skin brightening”. And skin brightening products in this context focus on ridding the skin of hyperpigmentation, blemishes, or dullness.
How do skin brightening products work?
Brightening products can be separated into three categories: ingredients that stop pigment-producing cells, ingredients that prevent pigment transfer, and ingredients that encourage cell turnover. Antioxidants, vitamin C, and niacinamide are ideal if you want your skin brightening products to work hard for you.
For example, Tyrosinase is an enzyme that’s responsible for the first step of melanin production. When your cells have been damaged by pimples or acne, this enzyme sends an excess of Tyrosine – which results in overproduction of pigment. Ingredients like vitamin C, licorice extract, and arbutin inhibit this enzyme from overproduction. They help prevent and lighten acne scars or hyperpigmentation from blemishes. With the treatment of these ingredients, the enzyme still acts as a defense mechanism for your skin, it just prevents overproduction so that the scars aren’t too dark and will take a shorter time to heal.
Then there’s alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA) that speed up the rate of cell turnover. The two work on the uppermost layer of the skin and benefit the skin by improving the look of dull and uneven skin tones and smoothen out the texture. AHA ingredients like lactic acid, glycolic acid, and BHA ingredients like salicylic acid are renowned for their anti-ageing impact on the skin.
How often should I use skin brightening products?
With factors like environmental pollutants and exposure to UV rays, it’s important to use skin brightening products regularly. Afterall, brightening products help get rid of dead skin cells, reduce blemishes and fade spots, and trade it all in for a clearer complexion.
Here is a list of seven skin brightening products that can help give you the perfect glow.