If you’re up to date on your skin care controversies, you’ll know that ‘skin whitening’ products have come under scrutiny in the past few years. The term (and practice) has been associated with a number of unsafe facial practices, suspicious chemicals, and controversial beauty politics. And it’s true that there are a number of red flags to look out for when a label promises to ‘‘whiten” - but what about skin ‘brightening’ formulas?
There’s a significant difference between the two treatment options, and ultimately, it’s important to distinguish between them in order to make safe and informed purchases. While both ‘brightening’ and ‘whitening’ products are aimed towards people who want more radiant and even toned skin with less noticeable hyperpigmentation, they have vastly different chemical compositions.Skin Brightening - What Does It Entail?
‘Brightening’ products target areas of discoloration; this can include post-acne marks, sun-spots, hyperpigmentation related to age, and melanin concentrations in specific areas of the skin. The goal of a brightening product is to increase radiance, restore vibrancy, and even out pigmentation — that is, to bring your skin back to its original complexion, before it was scarred, marked, or otherwise discolored by sun, acne, or whatever else you’re battling.
This process can be achieved through a number of natural ingredients which boost brightness, lighten discoloration, and increase the efficiency with which your skin produces new skin cells (revealing fresh even-toned skin beneath). Products designed to brighten will target specific areas of your dermis, and rely on ingredients like kojic acid, vitamin C, plant-based retinol, and alpha hydroxy acids.
So how does skin brightening work? Our skin is constantly renewing itself through production of new skin cells, connective tissue, and collagen — replacing older skin with healthy and living cells. However, our bodies aren't always so efficient when it comes to sloughing away old skin cells, meaning that sometimes they can sit at the surface of our dermis, causing dullness, patchiness or discoloration. Brightening ingredients effectively exfoliate and slough away these old skin cells, revitalizing the skin’s surface so it appears brighter, smoother, and more mono-tone.