Kiss goodbye to dark marks with these active ingredients you can safely use to reclaim a healthy & glowing skin.
Finding effective, safe and affordable skincare products with the right active ingredients to fade black spots on face in reaction to acne, eczema, sun exposure, scars, pregnancy, or hormonal imbalance remains challenging for people with skin of colour.
The challenge to even out skin is pronounced, particularly in reducing hyperpigmentation without compromising the natural skin tone.
In response to this need, what are the emerging and most common active ingredients used in skincare formulations you need to check out to safely and successfully fade dark marks for an even skin tone and a radiant glow?
Tyrosinase inhibitors are the most common active ingredients used in skincare to address hyperpigmentation concerns by controlling how fast your skin produces pigments.
Beyond L-Ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C) and kojic acid, Sepiwhite™ MSH, azelaic acid, alpha arbutin and tranexamic acid are actives you will come across at beauty stores when searching for skincare products aimed at fading dark marks on skin.
Natural derived, ECOCERT, COSMOS & Natrue certified Sepiwhite™ MSH from Sepicc is a molecule which works by keeping the melanotropin in your body from producing melanin. Tyrosinase, which is responsible for pigmentation, remains “metabolically” inactive.
According to Seppic clinical studies on Caucasian, Asian and Black African skins, when used at 0.2% in product formulations in conjunction with AHAs, Sepiwhite™ MSH brightens the skin and reduces dark patches on skin in 7 days. The complexion is enhanced with a radiant glow and the signs of age are smoothed out after 2 months of treatment.
Boutique brands Indeed Labs and CG Skincare both offer products containing Sepiwhite™ MSH, which is still a relatively new entrant in the active cosmetics industry.
Dark spot obliterator Alpha Arbutin is a natural compound extracted from various natural plants such as bearberry plant, blueberries, cranberries, pear skins, and wheat.
It interferes with the activity of tyrosinase, which is needed to produce melanin or pigment in the skin. Alpha arbutin appears to work well for all skin types and tones, but like carcinogenic kojic acid, it may cause irritation in some cases.
To boost its benefits, Alpha-Arbutin from The Ordinary or Novaclear is commonly paired with other skin brighteners like vitamin C, an AHA, or niacinamide.
Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid found in grains such as barley, wheat, and rye. Azelaic acid possesses antibacterial, keratolytic, comedolytic, and antioxidant activity.
A pilot study from 2011 showed azelaic acid can help treat acne due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, while supporting the treatment of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation by evening the skin tone. Further research on skin of colour has also shown that azelaic acid is safe and beneficial for this use.
Paula’s Choice, Urban Skin Rx, and Glossier are some of the beauty brands that have developed skincare products with azelaic acid to safely and efficiently tackle acne and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Tranexamic acid controls pigmentation by inhibiting the release of inflammatory mediators, specifically prostaglandins, which are involved in triggering melanogenesis. Tranexamic acid has been recently introduced as a topical therapy aimed at reducing pigmentation in melasma.
A 2017 clinical study with Brazilian women of medium skin tone revealed that topical tranexamic acid combined with other actives was effective in treating mild to moderate melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), and hyperpigmentation.
SkinCeuticals Discolouration Defense Serum and The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid Overnight Treatment are two high-potency serums to consider including in your skincare regimen to safely fade your dark marks.
Melanin Transfer Inhibitor
Another way of tackling dark marks is by preventing melanin transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes rather than inhibiting tyrosinase. This is where the current skincare darling niacinamide steps in to save the day.
Niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin B with effective skin lightening power that works by inhibiting melanosome transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes.
A 2002 clinical study with Japanese women revealed that niacinamide used with adequate sunscreen significantly decreased hyperpigmentation and increased skin lightness after 4 weeks of use. Niacinamide also helps visibly minimize enlarged pores, tighten lax pores and boost the hydrating ability of moisturizers.
This means Fenty Skin Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum and Facetheory Porebright N10 Serum with niacinamide as their star ingredient could be great additions to your hyperpigmentation fighting regimen to supplement your tyrosinase inhibitor products!
- Find out first how to safely add active cosmetics to your skincare regimen
- Add 1 active cosmetics for hyperpigmentation at a time and track progress over 4 to 12 weeks
- Discontinue application of active cosmetics immediately if skin irritation occurs
- Limit sun exposure while using active cosmetics on skin
- Use a good sunscreen for skin of colour – minimum SPF 30!
- Be patient – it takes time to restore your skin health
I hope you find the information useful. If you you do, why not connect with us on Pinterest or Instagram for more useful tips? And until next time, be you and do you my lovelies!
Thanigaimalai Pillaiyar, et al (2017) Skin whitening agents: medicinal chemistry perspective of tyrosinase inhibitors – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6010116/
Air Liquide Healthcare SEPIWHITE™ MSH Characteristics – – https://www.seppic.com/en/sepiwhite-msh
Cosmetics Business (2017) Seppic discloses new biological results for SEPIWHITE MSH https://www.cosmeticsbusiness.com/news/article_page/Seppic_discloses_new_biological_results_for_SEPIWHITE_MSH/127983
Pharmaceutical Cosmetic Review (2017) – https://www.pharmacos.co.za/most-recent-in-vivo-test-for-sepiwhite-msh-conducted-on-black-african-and-indian-skin-types/
Woolery-Lloyd HC, et al. (2013). Retinoids and azelaic acid to treat acne and hyperpigmentation in skin of color – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23652891
Seemal Desai MD et al (2019) Effect of Tranexamic Acid, Kojic Acid, and Niacinamide Containing Serum on Facial Dyschromia: A Clinical Evaluation – J Drugs Dermatol 2019; 18(5):454-459
T Hakozaki et al (2002) The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12100180