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Hotter temperatures and intense conditions - looking at you, intense dryness and humidity - mean that heavy makeup is a no-go. And, to be honest, you probably wouldn’t want to cake on the foundation even if it didn't melt right off your face! Layered makeup in the summer months can clog pores and exacerbate existing skin concerns (and nobody has time for that).
That’s why our philosophy is to have skin so bright and clear that you won’t need any war paint to start your day! Here are the top brightening ingredients to look for in skin brightening products.
Skin brightening refers to achieving glowy, fresh-looking skin with minimized scarring and discoloration. Products for brightening skin have ingredients that fade scars and hyperpigmentation for a more youthful look. Skin brightening is a common, across-the-board goal that people of all ages and skin types strive for.
Skin lightening creams lighten the skin's shade by reducing or suppressing pigmentation. On the contrary, skin-brightening products focus on radiance and evening the skin's tone without changing its color. By encouraging new cell production and the clarifying of dead cells, the outer layer of skin appears younger and more even, but not necessarily lighter.
Our lifestyle and genes determine the way our skin looks, but a skincare routine supported by science can improve the look of anyone's skin. Years of research and trials have determined four rudimentary steps to skin care: cleansing, exfoliating, encouraging cell turnover, and moisturizing.
Use serums and moisturizers with skin brightening ingredients that have the proper chemicals but also feel good on your skin. Let's discuss some of our favorite skin brighteners.
Vitamin C is one of the best skin brighteners, and it's completely natural. You might also see it listed as ascorbic acid, its scientific name. This citrusy compound knows how to brighten skin without irritating or being too harsh for most skin types.
For all skin types.
Vitamin C does a few great things for your skin:
That said, some forms of vitamin C face brightener can actually cause irritation and be difficult to tolerate. If your skin is sensitive, or you have adamaged skin barrier, we recommend that you start with SAP (the form found in Cloud Whip ).
This is the most stable form of vitamin C, meaning that it will never oxidize or decrease in effectiveness with time. It also easily penetrates the skin, unlike ascorbic acid - the form that most brands use - which is not easily or effectively absorbed.
The Best Week Ever Routine was assembled to deliver the optimal nutrients to your skin through serums, masks, and eye treatments. The entire routine is full of brightening skincare items that will make your skin soft and glowy after a few weeks of use.
Lightweight and velvety, the Coco Cocoa Creme Body Butter is an indulgent skin brightener for body use. With an organic coconut and cocoa butter base for softness and ingredients like Vitamin C and Green Tea extract for complexion balance, it not only moisturizes the skin but also improves its appearance!
The Almond Butter Sugar High Hand Cream is a winter wonder for hands irritated by dry, cold weather. With natural occlusives like hemp seed oil, jojoba oil, and shea butter, the formula combats redness, reduces inflammation, and even repairs dark spots and wrinkles.
The Pep Rally Face Serum is a hyaluronic acid skin brightening product gentle enough for daily use. Packed with antioxidants like green tea and Vitamin C, this lightweight gel serum brightens, plumps, and reduces the appearance of fine lines.
If you aren't sure where to start and need to lay the foundation for your skincare lineup, the Daily Essentials Routine is for you. All three products for brightening skin have Vitamin C, as well as a slew of vital skin-food like peptides, MSM, hyaluronic acid, and more.
Niacinamide is a lesser-known skin and face brightener that's tolerated well by most people and used by those who don't love the way Vitamin C feels on them. Because it supports keratin production, a protein essential for skin elasticity, niacinamide is big in the anti-aging community.
For all skin types.
If your skin tends to be sensitive to traditional skin care brightening ingredients - or if the rest of your skincare regimen incorporates powerful actives - we recommend that you try niacinamide. It’s a form of vitamin B3 that can come from foods such as meat, fish, milk, eggs, green vegetables and grains. It’s easily absorbed by the skin and works by gradually lightening pigment over the course of a few months.
Niacinamide is also one of the few ingredients that can reduce inflammation and sebum (oil) production, which can balance oily complexion and minimize acne.
As it’s well tolerated by most people, niacinamide can be used twice a day every day by most (use it with vitamin C to get maximum benefits from both of these powerhouse ingredients).
Hydroquinone is a skin-lightening chemical used to reduce melanin production. The controversial compound is banned in many places for its potential cancer-causing properties, though it is still used in the skin-bleaching community. Niacinamide, conversely, is gentle, safe, and found in organic skincare brightening lines (not whitening).
Anti-aging products target three main concerns: complexion balancing, fine lines/wrinkles, and elasticity. Our Up The Anti Anti Aging Cream contains niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and peptides to encourage elasticity and stimulate face brightening overnight!
This chemical exfoliant is added to skin brightening products to break through the outer layer of the skin to penetrate deeper. For all skin types except extremely sensitive.
If you’re dealing with more profound acne or hyperpigmentation disorders, then consider glycolic acid. This AHA - usually derived from sugarcane - is known to soften skin, decrease sebum, and increase circulation and collagen.
Glycolic acid is generally recognized as the most effective AHA because it’s the smallest molecule of the bunch and therefore the most easily absorbed into the skin. It also contains phytic acid, which aids in skin clarity and brightness.
The best news? Glycolic acid is one of the few skin brightening ingredients that you can find in many different forms: as a chemical peel, moisturizer, toner, and as a cleanser ingredient.
The Bright Side Cleanser has hydrophilic and lipophilic that bind to oils and impurities, providing a deep, long-lasting clean. It has several skin brightening products like glycolic acid and vitamin C.
A great glycolic cleanser like Bright Side cleanses the skin of dirt, oil, and debris while sloughing away dead skin and pore-clogging impurities. This can help you consistently and mildly address dull skin, acne, and other blemishes.
The Daily Essentials Routine is a perfect starter kit for those entering the world of natural skincare. With a brightening cleanser, moisturizer, and serum, you'll notice softer, more radiant skin within a few days of starting the routine.
Gentle, hydrating, and deliciously scented, the Rainbow is my Favorite Color Bar Soap is perfect for all skin types. This skin brightener for body cleansing combines natural oils, butters, and kaolin clay to exfoliate without disrupting the body's sebum production.
You'll see lactic acid in the ingredients list of many brightening skin products. It works by loosening up the bonds of dead skin so it can shed faster and make way for the healthiest cells.
Lactic acid is a natural byproduct of the fermentation process, or the chemical breakdown of sugars. Fermentation is how foods like yogurt, beer, kimchi, sauerkraut, and much more. Lactic acid is also produced by muscle cells during exercise when glucose is broken down and used as energy. It's a naturally occurring compound with lesser-known functions in the skincare realm.
Interestingly, lactic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). This group of chemical exfoliants work wonders in skin brightening products and chemical peels.
Anti-aging is all about boosting elasticity and smoothing out the fine lines. Our Up The Anti Anti Aging Cream is a triple-threat collagen producer, wrinkle fader, and skin brightener for face. Lactic acid and other AHAs work overtime to smooth and plump!
The precious under-eye area is delicate and fine. Fine lines are inevitable because the skin is so thin. Every time we squint, smile, or strain, the skin folds and creases deepen. Our All In Eye Cream has all eight essential ingredients for optimal brightness and smoothing.
Goat milk and honey are the ultimate skin-soothing ingredients. The Hometown Honey Bar Soap has both, as well as oatmeal, to gently clear away dirt and oils while returning the oils that help your skin thrive. It's a wonderful skin brightener for body use, and gentle enough to be used every day.
Licorice extract contains glycyrrhizin, a powerful skin-soothing agent found in products to brighten skin. It's been used for thousands of years to reduce inflammation, redness, and swelling caused by skin conditions, acne, or allergies. For all skin types.
Licorice has three primary components - glycyrrhizin, liquirtin, and glabridin - that all work to fight hyperpigmentation, acne scars, and melasma.
Glabridin, in particular, suppresses the overproduction of melanin and keeps your skin from developing pigmentation in response to sun exposure. Licorice root benefits also include protecting the skin from the harmful and damaging UV radiation.
Licorice extract works by mimicking tyrosinase, the enzyme that allows for the production of melanin, and “fakes it out” so that the actual enzyme is never actually produced - pretty cool! You can try it for yourself in our Soulmate brightening treatment.
This skin brightener for face also contains over 300 different compounds that possess anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-microbial, and antitumor properties.
Our Soulmate Brightening Treatmentdoubles as a moisturizer for everyday cell turnover and hydration. Licorice, willow bark, and dandelion work as antioxidants, while hyaluronic acid and shea butter moisturize, making this one of the gold standards of brightening skin care.
The Night Shift Hydration Gel is a cooling moisturizer with the nutrient density of a serum. The cream addresses fine lines, discoloration, and cell turnover and emits a refreshing cucumber citrus scent.
If you're in the market for skin brightening products, the All In Eye Cream should be at the top of your list. This potent under-eye cream contains licorice extract and other important soothing agents along with a host of anti-aging compounds.
There's no reason to leave your brightening skincare at home while you're on the go. The Minis X 3 is a powerful travel set with some of our favorites. It includes a cleanser, night cream, and day cream - strictly the essentials to save space in your suitcase.
Kojic acid is found in products to brighten skin, correct dark spots, and repair hyperpigmentation.
For all skin types, except sensitive skin.
This skin brightener is extracted from various fungi, particularly Aspergillus. It usually comes from mushrooms, though it can also be created during the sake brewing process from fermented rice.
Like licorice, kojic acid works by inhibiting tyrosinase, the enzyme that causes dark spots. As a result, kojic acid has been known to effectively fade stubborn melasma and most types of hyperpigmentation.
That said, it can be more irritating than other options on the list, particularly if it’s used in conjunction with retinoids, AHAs, or vitamin C. So if you have sensitive skin, look for a product with a lower percentage of kojic acid (around 1%) and make sure that the rest of your routine is soothing, hydrating, and free of strong actives.
Arbutin is commonly found in products for brightening skin because of its proven ability to prevent hyperpigmentation, the main driver of dark acne scars and sun spots.
For all skin types.
Also known as alpha arbutin, this is the ingredient that most rivals hydroquinone, the most popular (and problematic) skin brightener. In fact, it’s often known as “the natural hydroquinone” because of its similar chemical composition - minus all the risks and side effects.
At its most basic, arbutin is a molecule extracted from the bearberry plant. It also works by inhibiting tyrosinase - but it’s much more gentle on the skin than other comparable ingredients. For this reason, it can be used in combination with more potent products and on sensitive skin.
Azelaic Acid is included under the brightening skincare umbrella because it repairs discoloration and fights extra melanin production.
For all skin types.
Azelaic acid is a dicarboxylic acid that is made from products like barley and wheat. It can be considered more of a chemical exfoliant - similar to glycolic acid - than an outright skin brightening product. This gentle, stable, leave-on exfoliant can be applied topically to unclog pores and even out skin tone.
Over time, it works to diminish the appearance of blemishes, fade acne marks and discoloration, and refine the skin’s texture and surface.
When it comes to skin brightening, this ingredient destroys melanocytes, the skin cells that produce melanin. It also has antibacterial properties (which makes it good at calming acne and inflammation) and is considered safe to use during pregnancy.
If you want to get the full benefits, look for skin brightening products that contain at least 10% azelaic acid. Luckily, these are available over-the-counter.
We understand the two sound like they could be used interchangeably in skin brightening products. Alpha arbutin is geared toward hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and discoloration, whereas azelaic acid may be better at treating acne, rosacea, and inflammatory concerns.
Now you're armed with the facts and can decide which skin brightener is right for your skin type and concerns. Have fun crafting your unique skincare routine knowing the ingredients are backed by science.