Even though hyperpigmentation is one of the most common skin conditions, it is difficult to completely wipe away from the skin. This often has a negative impact on one's psychological well-being. That is why the R & D labs in major cosmeceutical companies are working regularly to come up with creams and serums rich in innovative actives that prevent pigmentation.
Pigmentation takes place when skin starts to darken due to an increase in melanin in a specific area of the skin. This is often aggravated by sun's UV rays. So the first cream that you must own to prevent pigmentation is a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least 25 SPF. Look for lotions that have physical as well as chemical sunscreens. If the label shows titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide, then it is the best lotion to pick up as your first defense against tanning and brown patches. In fact the topical skin lightening creams work better when working under a sunscreen.
The topical skin lightening creams are often prescribed by dermatologists to deal with the first level of hyperpigmentation. It is used to treat many types of skin pigmentation, includingmelasma, freckles, sunspots, under eye dark circles, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation etc.
Effect on skin of topical creams
Topical lightening agents are creams or serums used on the skin to help lighten skin and deal with skin pigmentation issues. Dermatologists often prescribe these products in conjunction with in-clinical hyper pigmentation treatments like laser and peels.
The anti-pigmentation creams are gentler on skin, and work by inhibiting the enzymes that produce melanin. The actives also stimulate faster skin turnover, thus revealing fresher skin layer and clearing our extra pigments sitting under the epidermis.
While, skin lightening creams do not completely remove pigmentation. However, they do significantly lighten it. That is why dermatologists also often prescribe topical skin lightening creams to prepare the skin for laser treatments, and peels. This reduces the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation especially for women with duskier skin tone.
Top ingredients in anti-pigmentation creams
Some of the popular skin-lightening actives that the dermatologists like to prescribe include:
Hydroquinone: It has been the most well-known treatment for hyperpigmentation for decades, but now-a-days more and more doctors as well as patients prefer to us natural-based product that they feel are less irritating to the skin.
Kojic Acid: An antioxidant derived from a fungus. It works by breaking down melanin in the skin. Meanwhile it also prevails the production of melanin in the skin. It is found in cosmeceuticals in 1% to 4% concentrations either combined with other skin-lightening agents.
Licorice: There are a number of different licorice extracts derived from licorice root. It is an OTC ointment that is often prescribed to lighten sensitive areas like the under eye skin.
Niacinimide: A form of vitamin B3 that acts by inhibiting the transfer of melanosomes into the epidermis of the skin. It is commonly used in many cosmeceuticals for its skin lightening effects. It also prevails additional pigment from coming to the surface of the skin.
Soy: Derived from the soybean plant, it is one of the most commonly used skin-lightening ingredients in moisturizers. The active works by inhibiting the transfer of melanosomes into the top layer of the skin. Great for sensitive or easily irritated skin.
Vitamin C- Topical vitamin C as L-ascorbic acid also helps interfere with pigment production. An additional benefit of vitamin C is the anti-oxidant effect it has, so it will help prevent skin from environmental damage.
Glycolic acid – It is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that can have a dis-cohesive effect on the epidermis, or top layer of skin, to help exfoliate the pigmented skin cells. By doing so, it speeds skin turnover and pigment is lost more rapidly.
Retinoids – Retinoids are derived from vitamin A. Retinoids work in a number of ways to help reduce pigmentation. It removes patches by inhibiting enzymes causing pigmentation. It also accelerates skin turnover to help pigmented skin cells shed more quickly.
Ellagic Acid: Natural substance derived from strawberries, cherries, and pomegranates. Works as an antioxidant and also inhibits an enzyme needed for melanin production.
Lignin Peroxidase: It is an enzyme that comes from a fungus found in wood pulp and can break down melanin in the skin.
Arbutin : It is a natural derivative of hydroquinone derived from plants. Popular berries like bearberry, blueberry, and cranberry are the main source of arbutin. The best skin-lighteng results are achieved with a cream that has 3% concentration of Arbutin and other skin-lightening agents.