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Ingredients That Can Help with Hyperpigmentation

We've been spillin' the tea on all things hyperpigmentation from What It Is to Things You May Be Doing that's making it worse. We're here to introduce you to key ingredients known to help with hyperpigmentation. 


If you've read our What is Hyperpigmentation Blog, we took the time to introduce you to melanocytes and how they are responsible for pigment production (aka melanin). We glazed over how that process happens, but now we're at a crossroad where we have to identify what triggers melanocytes to produce melanin.


We know you don't want some long-drawn-out microbiology lesson, so we will spare you all the minute details and fast forward to the meat of the matter - tyrosinase


So, what the heck does this word have to do with hyperpigmentation? It has EVERYTHING TO DO WITH IT! Tyrosinase is an enzyme that's responsible for triggering melanocytes to produce melanin. Our goal when trying to reduce or fade dark marks, spots, or patches our ultimate goal, as professionals, is to inhibit this enzyme from triggering the melanocytes. There are many options for treating hyperpigmentation, but first, we want to connect you to some key ingredients that can help you achieve your goal of fading your dark marks.


When it comes to treating or fading hyperpigmentation and ingredient selection, it's essential to consider many factors: contraindications, ethnic background, medications, or skin conditions. These factors can determine which ingredients are more preferred over another when it comes to your hyperpigmentation.

  1. Ascorbic Acid - also known as Vitamin C, is naturally found in citrus fruits and leafy greens. Vitamin C is packed with powerful antioxidants and is well known for its ability to help fade hyperpigmentation. How does it do it? It acts as a depigmenting agent by interfering with tyrosinase functions. 
  2. Arbutin - is a natural, more safe alternative to hydroquinone. It is sourced from the leaves of the evergreen bush, Bearberry. Arbutin comes in an alpha and beta form, with alpha being more stable and suitable for skin and cosmetic products. It decreases melanin production rather than killing pigment-producing cells. Therefore, it does not have the same side effects as the counterpart, hydroquinone. 
  3. Mandelic Acid - is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from almonds. It's often overshadowed by more infamous AHA's glycolic acid or lactic, but it's essential to know its ability to help with acne, improve skin texture, and fade hyperpigmentation. How does it work? AHAs are excellent for gentle, chemical exfoliation. Mandelic acid is no different. Its large molecular size means it has a slower penetration rate making it great for all skin types. It will decrease hyperpigmentation over time by promoting new skin cells and rapidly replacing old, pigmented cells. 
  4. Koijic Acid - was initially discovered in mushrooms and found to be a by-product during the fermentation process of malting rice. It is often used in natural and organic products, given its nature, and used as a safe alternative to hydroquinone. Like arbutin, it inhibits tyrosinase's abilities rather than killing the cell. 
  5. Licorice Root Extract - derives from the wild-grown Licorice Roots found throughout Asia and Europe. It's well known in the natural and organic cosmetic industry for its abilities to help fade pre-existing dark marks, spots, and patches and prevent future spots or patches of highly pigmented areas. Some studies have suggested that licorice root extract is more effective as a tyrosinase inhibitor than koijic acid because it has high concentrations of glabridin (a chemical component of licorice root).
  6. Mulberry Extract - is sourced from the White Mulberry Tree native to China. Similar to licorice root, it a safe, natural alternative to hydroquinone and best paired with licorice root extract to enhance its skin benefits.
  7. Niacinimide - is a form of Vitamin B3. Vitamin B3 comes in two forms niacin and niacinamide. It can be applied topically (niacinamide) or taken orally (niacin). The body can convert excess niacin to niacinamide. How does it help hyperpigmentation?  When applied topically, niacinamide helps promote collagen production. Increased collagen production encourages skin cell turnover, renewal, and repair, reducing the number of pigmented cells. 
  8. Phytic Acid - is a naturally occurring alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from plant seeds. It's not as well known as glycolic acid, but phytic acid contains more antioxidants. Therefore, it is more gentle and less irritating to the skin. Research has shown that phytic acid can inactivate tyrosinase, meaning it can reduce the chance of future dark spots, marks, and patches. It's AHA property exfoliation will promote skin cell turnover and renewal, limiting the number of pigmented cells.

That was a lot to take in, right? We know - we tried to keep our descriptions brief about each key ingredient. If you want more details about specific ingredients - stay tuned! We'll be doing ingredient spotlights very soon.

CAUTION: These are active ingredients, and we caution you to be mindful of having too many active ingredients in your routine. Our blog is a means of simple self-education. Please consult with a physician, dermatologist, or esthetician before adding new products or ingredients to your routine. 

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