From The Straits Times    |

Dark spots can be a downer on our glow game. Whether caused by sun exposure or skin ageing, these pesky spots can make our complexion uneven and dull, contributing to a tired, haggard appearance. Making matters worse? Asian skin is more prone to dark spots.

We caught Dr Yan Wu, Clinical Professor and Medical Doctor from the Department of Dermatology, Peking University First Hospital, who was in Singapore to attend the 25th World Congress of Dermatology earlier this month, and asked her for her insights on dark spots.

She says, “Hyperpigmentation, or dark spots, appear when melanin, which is responsible for our skin colour, becomes clumped or is produced in high concentrations, usually when you have exposed your skin to high levels of UV light. And Asians are more prone to skin discoloration as Asian skin has more melanin.”

But you don’t have to be stuck with lacklustre skin. To combat melanin and get your complexion looking brighter, here are some things you need to know, and it includes a high-tech “damage eraser” to help take down hyperpigmentation. 

1. Antioxidants are key

To brighten and even out your skin tone, you want to make antioxidants your best friends. Dr Wu, who chose vitamin C as one of the key ingredients she would have in her anti-ageing skincare regime, says, “Vitamin C possesses antioxidant properties that can decrease the production of pigment, and stimulate collagen regeneration.”

Recognising the power of antioxidants, Clinique developed the Even Better Clinical Radical Dark Spot Corrector + Interrupter (EBCI). The beauty brand has been at the forefront of whitening skincare – its Derma White range has been around since 2000, and has been “continuously conducting research and evolving its technology to effectively treat concerns like hyperpigmentation, which is notoriously difficult to address”, shares Janet Pardo, Senior Vice President, Product Development Worldwide, Clinique.

Clinique Even Better Clinical Radical Dark Spot Corrector + Interrupter (EBCI) (50ml). Credit: Clinique

The third-generation EBCI contains a patented CL302 Brightening Complex, enriched with antioxidants, including a stable form of vitamin C. It targets dark spots at the source where they are produced, hence correcting discolouration at its root. 

2. Upgrade your skincare game

Choose products that are dermatologically backed and have been proven to work. Ida Wong, Vice President Global Product Development, Clinique, shares, “For us, the science is paramount. With EBCI, we focused on the CL302 Complex, which takes a multi-pronged approach to addressing pigmentation by targeting different pathways, reducing excess melanin, and fading dark spots. It took us over 10 years to finally come up with a formula we were satisfied with.”

Besides vitamin C, the brightening antioxidant that works on reducing dark spots, the CL302 Complex also comprises a host of other ingredients that work on different parts and levels of the skin. 

Before and after** images of using the Clinique Even Better Clinical Radical Dark Spot Corrector + Interrupter (EBCI). Credit: Clinique

Clinique’s scientists screened over 2,200 plants to identify the dianella ensifolias, a natural compound which has skin-brightening properties. They then worked to replicate, via bioengineering, the active ingredient, and souped it up by 50,000 times for a powerful concentrate that now resides in the “damage-erasing” CL302 Complex.

Also at work is salicylic acid that gently sloughs off the uppermost layers of the skin to help reveal fresher, more even-looking skin; and glucosamine, which weakens the bonds holding dead skin cells together, encouraging the exfoliation of surface discoloration. Yeast extract acts as a “cluster buster”, breaking up large clusters of excess pigment (culprits for dark spots), so they become less visible. 

Consumer tests by 536 women have shown brightening results in just seven days, with 84 per cent saying skin looks more radiant. In another third-party test on 101 Chinese women, who used EBCI twice daily over four weeks, about 90 per cent said skin looked more even toned; and 82 per cent agreed there was a noticeable “whitening effect”.

3. Minimise irritation

Irritated skin can lead to skin problems, including developing dark spots. Ida explains, “We have learned from our scientists that even subclinical irritation and inflammation play a significant role in various skin concerns. Even if you don’t visibly see or feel irritation or redness, it can still be happening on a biochemical level and trigger pathways that affect melanin production or collagen breakdown. So, when considering skincare and treating dark spots, it’s crucial to address and prevent irritation as well.”

Clinique’s Senior Vice President of Product Development Worldwide, Janet Pardo (left), with Vice President of Global Product Development Ida Wong, at a media event earlier this month. Credit: Clinique

That’s why EBCI is created with the Interrupter Complex, that works simultaneously with the CL302 Complex. This comprises soothing ingredients like gyokuro and rice bran extracts. Gyokuro, which helps quell irritation and redness, is a Japanese green tea harvested specially at the point when it has its highest levels of antioxidants. Another potent antioxidant and anti-irritant, rice bran helps prevent the formation of future dark spots by defending skin against damaging free radicals. 

“These ingredients help calm the skin and maintain an optimal state for repair, especially when it comes to hyperpigmentation,” says Ida. EBCI has also been allergy tested and is fragrance free, making it suitable even for sensitive skin. 

4. Sunblock is a non-negotiable

In addition to the right skincare, Dr Wu stresses the importance of shielding skin from the sun. She advises, “Minimising sun exposure is crucial, particularly for individuals with acne-prone skin, as inflammation can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. During pregnancy, prioritising UV protection and adhering to proper sun protection measures is essential.” Dr Wu says sun protection should start at the baby stage.

So, needless to say, every city girl’s beauty kit should contain a reliable sunscreen. For comprehensive protection against dark spots, Clinique’s Even Better City Block Brightening Aqua Gel + Anti-Pollution Primer SPF 45/PA+++ is a must-have.

Clinique Even Better City Block Brightening Aqua Gel + Anti-Pollution Primer SPF 45/PA+++ (30ml). Credit: Clinique

Suitable for all skin types, this multi-functional, water-light gel acts as a primer for your makeup while guarding against UVA and UVB rays. Its antioxidant-rich formula, combined with the hydrating power of hyaluronic acid, provides the skin with additional comfort and hydration.

Clinique’s Even Better Clinical Radical Dark Spot Corrector + Interrupter Serum, at $120 (30ml) and $152 (50ml); and Even Better City Block Brightening Aqua Gel + Primer Anti-Pollution SPF45/PA+++, $68 (30ml), are available at leading department stores including Metro, TANGS, BHG and Isetan, as well as online at, Clinique Official LazMall Flagship Store on Lazada, and

**Actual results from product trial partnered with influencers over 7 days of application, twice a day. Individual results may vary.

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