The lowdown on pigmentation and how skin-brightening ingredients work their magic

The science behind the active ingredients in skinceuticals’ new pigmentation fighter
 

The new SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense serum promises to be the ideal companion to lightening existing pigmentation while keeping skin tone even and radiant through its blend of potent skin-lightening ingredients — Tranexamic Acid, Kojic Acid, Niacinaminde and Hepes.

But before delving into what each active ingredient can do, it is important to understand how overproduction of melanin leads to pigmentation spots and patches.

The low-down on pigmentation

Melanin are pigments that are naturally produced by our skin cells, and is responsible for giving our eyes, hair and skin its natural colour.

An excessive production of melanin causes patches of skin to become darker in colour than the normal, healthy skin surrounding it, and this condition is referred to as pigmentation or hyperpigmentation.

Melanin is actually the skin’s natural defence mechanism as a response to inflammation caused by environmental aggressors like UV, certain types of prescription medications and even treatments that cause a reaction and result in a localised inflammation.

When the skin is being assaulted, it releases inflammatory mediators that send signals to the cells to produce melanin to protect it. The problem occurs when there is an over-activation of these inflammatory mediators that stimulate the tyrosinase that are found within the skin so that it leads to an excessive production of melanin, resulting in hyperpigmentation or Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH), that can be seen as brown spots and patches.

And because Asians tend to have more melanin within our skin cells, it is natural that Asians are more susceptible to hyperpigmentation.

Within the skin cells, tyrosinase is the responsible in the first step of melanin production, as it converts tyrosine, a type of protein, into melanin, through the process of melanogenesis. Tyrosinase is an enzyme that is required for melanocytes to produce melanin, and melanin is responsible for the colour that we see on our skin.

To combat pigmentation, SkinCeuticals introduces a Discoloration Defense serum that promises to not only lighten pigmentation spots and patches, but also even out skin tone and keep complexion radiant.

Bottled goodness

The Discoloration Defense serum is packed with active ingredients that work together to reduce the appearance of pigmentation while keeping skin even-toned at the same time.

The key active ingredients are as follows:

  1. Tranexamic Acid (TXA) – 3%. Known as an early inhibitor molecule, it is used to stop the trigger of melanin production at the start. It does so by preventing the release of inflammatory mediators, also known as the signals, that tell the skin cells to produce melanin as a natural defense mechanism against aggressors.

    It was first used to treat Melasma in 1979, and is now widely used as a topical treatment to lighten pigmentation in Melasma, PIH and hyperpigmentation.

    Melasma has been known to be one of the more stubborn forms of hyperpigmentation to treat as its melanin deposits within the skin do not occur only in one area. Studies have shown that this form of hyperpigmentation can reside in skin cells near the skin’s surface and even in the deeper layers of the skin, where the vessels are, making this skin condition particularly difficult to treat.

  2. Kojic Acid – 1%. Commonly used as an active skin brightening ingredient, it also works as a tyrosinase inhibitor, to further prevent the over-production of melanin that can lead to hyperpigmentation. At one per cent concentration, it is safe enough to be used on even sensitive skins while still being able to deliver efficacious results.

  3. Niacinamide – 5%. A form of Vitamin B3, this popular active ingredient is known to even out and brighten the complexion as it reduces tyrosinase activity and prevents melanin transfer within the skin cells. In addition, Niacinamide is rich in anti-ageing properties as it is able to restore the skin, improve skin texture and reduce fine lines and wrinkles at the same time.

    And at five per cent concentration in the Discoloration Defense serum, it is the highest effective concentration used in a cosmeceutical formulation.

  4. Hepes – 5%. Scientifically known as Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, this enzymatic exfoliator increases protease activity within the skin cells to activate the desquamation process. This in turn encourages and maintains regular cellular turnover so melanin-loaded skin cells are naturally sloughed off to reveal a smoother and brighter complexion.

    Tests have also shown this to have hydrating properties, so it helps keep skin well-hydrated, which results in a healthy and glowing skin tone.

Tranexamic Acid has revolutionised the treatment of facial pigmentation in Asian skin, especially for melasma. The topical formulation serves as a useful alternative to hydroquinone. Clinical tests on this new SkinCeuticals product has been shown to reduce dark spots and is safe for the skin.

Dr. Goh Boon Kee, Consultant Dermatologist, Skin Physicians Clinic

Together, this cocktail of active ingredients has shown to produce significant results with regular use.

In fact, the efficacy of the SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense serum has been proven through a 12-week clinical study that, on average, consumers found that there was a:

  • 60 per cent improvement in the appearance of stubborn brown patches
  • 59 per cent improvement in the appearance of skin discoloration
  • 81 per cent improvement in the appearance of post-acne scars
  • 59 per cent improvement in the evenness of skin tone

The SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense is available at Clifford Aesthetics, J’s Medispa and Skin Physicians for $159 (30ml).

Brought to you by SkinCeuticals