Historically, skin lightening dates back very far - but this is not a blog post supporting the idea of whitening skin or changing the overall color of your skin. Instead, this is about the option to lighten and correct sun spots, sun damage, and bringing our skin back to its natural color – not changing the color.
We embrace all shades of beauty, from very dark to very light, and encourage everyone to feel the same way. Gone are the rules about what society should expect.
The things women did a long time ago to lighten their skin was considered quite extreme and downright dangerous in some ways.
During the Nara Period (710–94), women painted their face with a white powder called oshiroi, and in the Heian Period (794–1185), a white facial color continued to stand as a symbol of beauty. References to the beauty of light skin tone are found in the Diary of Lady Murasaki and Tale of Genji. More than a thousand years ago, cosmetics for whitening the skin had already become a status symbol among the aristocracy.
Skin bleaching continued in the Victorian era with the age of powder and paint, the precursor to us wearing foundation. European women were literally painting their faces with lead paint. Queen Elizabeth I was known to take arsenic complexion wafers, which were essentially little bits of poison to give her that ghostly look.
WHY IT MATTERS TO EVERYONE
Whatever your natural color, if you’re over the age of 25, it’s likely you’ve incurred some sun damage along the way. Too much sun exposure, scarring from acne, and sometimes even illness or dietary changes can cause skin discoloration. Fortunately there are excellent ingredient options out there to help us correct and diminish these issues.
With a significant amount of studies and knowledge, we can now confidently use ingredients that help us reduce the effects of sun damage.
9 INGREDIENTS THAT CAN LIGHTEN SKIN NATURALLY WITH EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS
The following ingredients are proven to help naturally lighten skin that has acquired some sun spot, pigmentation issues, and overall discoloration from aging and damage:
Licorice. Licorice root contains two ingredients that help with pigmentation: glabridin and liquiritin. Glabridin helps to retrain tyrosinase, an enzyme that produces melanin which leads to pigmentation. Liquiritin helps to break up and remove melanin and pigmentation in the skin. In addition to helping with dark spots, licorice can be soothing and help even out your skin tone. Licorice is Native to Eurasia, it has a long history of use from China to Ancient Egypt to Central Europe.
Kojic Acid. Kojic acid is derived from mushroom-like fungi during fermentation, and is the second most common natural lightening agent. It prohibits the production of melanin and penetrates the upper layers of the skin causing a lightening effect. Kojic is an excellent natural option that is safe for everyone. Kojic is derived from Aspergillus Oryzae typically grown in East Asia.
Arbutin. Arbutin is a natural form of hydroquinone derived from the bearberry plant. It is a safer and effective alternative to hydroquinone and is less cytotoxic to the melanocytes. Look for arbutin in brightening face lotions and dark-spot correctors. Use it gradually in the first few weeks to make sure your skin doesn’t react negatively. You can then increase the frequency of use. Also, as always, make sure you are wearing sunscreen. Arbutin is typically derived from bearberry leaves, which is normally grown in Canada, USA, Europe and Asia.
Citrus Extracts. Lemon juice and orange peels are natural skin bleaching agents. They contain lots of vitamin C, which plays an important role in producing the collagen fibers that help support your skin and keep it firm. When applied topically, Vitamin C has been shown to slow down hyperactive melanocytes. These are the cells that produce melanin in the basal layers of the skin which causes the skin to tan or become darker. Citrus trees are grown worldwide and very commonly maintained in Florida and California.
Niacinamide. Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, can be used to fade age spots and lighten discoloration of the skin. It’s effective with hyperpigmentation because it decreases the number of melanin transferred to pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) to skin cells by more than half. It doesn’t stop the production of melanin, but it reduces the amount that is transferred to the skin. It is extremely stable and not affected by heat or light like other chemical ingredients. Niacinamide is derived from nuts, seeds, and green vegetables worldwide.
Vitamin C. Vitamin C is another popular brightening alternative found in many brightening serums. Vitamin C is an amazing antioxidant that is beneficial for patients with hyperpigmentation. It works by brightening hyperpigmented spots on the skin, but not lightening normal skin.
Willow Bark Extract. Willow bark extract is a beta hydroxy acid that helps to exfoliate the skin and encourage cell turnover. That’s because it’s related to salicylic acid. White Willow Bark extract is composed of salicin, the natural form of salicylic acid. Salicylic acid helps to shed dead skin cells from your skin to allow new and healthy skin cells to regenerate. Willow bark is grown worldwide.
Lactic Acid. If you have sensitive skin or are just looking for something mild, products containing lactic acid may be what you need. Lactic acid is derived from sour milk and is an alpha hydroxy acid, so it is one of the mildest ingredients you can use for skin lightening. Gentle enough for sensitive skin, lactic acid penetrates the skin causing mild exfoliation. It’s also a melanin suppressor.
Because it decreases your melanin production, you should wear sunscreen and protective clothing to protect the treated areas from sun damage.
Papaya/Papain. Your favorite tropical fruit may help brighten your skin, too. Papaya contains alpha hydroxy acids, which are effective in cell turnover and exfoliation. And papain (an enzyme found in papaya) exfoliates the skin, giving you a lighter, brighter complexion. Papaya was originally grown in southern Mexico (particularly Chiapas and Veracruz), Central America, and northern South America.
Jeanette Quillen | Herbal Chemist @ Claribelskincare.com