The harsh summer sun can wreak havoc on our skin. This is especially true for those suffering from pigmentation issues, such as melasma. As the summer winds down, you may begin to notice new splotches or that existing dark spots are becoming more noticeable. Fortunately, before scheduling an in-office treatment, such as BBL™, there are ways you can begin to reverse sun damage at home. With the right skin care products, you can achieve a more even tone and maintain glowing skin well after summer.

In the past, skin lighteners and brighteners relied on a controversial chemical ingredient known as hydroquinone as the base for correcting pigmentation problems. , it became clear, however, that while this ingredient  is effective in lightening the skin, it has the potential to cause permanent damage if used improperly. As a result, there is a growing trend among corrective skin care lines to offer skin-lightening products that contain naturally-derived ingredients 


How Does Hydroquinone Work?

Dark spots occur when too much melanin begins to cluster in certain areas. Hydroquinone is a chemical that directly inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, which is necessary in the production of melanin. Interrupting this process helps darks spots to gradually fade. However, hydroquinone can result in lasting damage if it is used incorrectly or for continuous, extensive periods of time. In fact, damage to pigmentation cells can actually increase the risk of future hyperpigmentation and cause an increased sensitivity to sunlight that requires extra vigilance when it comes to sun protection.

Earlier this year, Health Canada amended its stance on Hydroquinone in order to protect consumers from these risks. Now, any skin care cream that contains a concentration of hydroquinone that is greater than 2% will require a prescription from a physician. In response to these recent changes and a growing awareness around the side effects of Hydroquinone and its misuse, other effective, naturally-derived skin lightening agents are being used in skin brightening products. These naturally powerful skin-lightening ingredients include:

Licorice Root Extract – This natural ingredient has been long used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for a variety of skin ailments. It acts as a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals from the environment, providing protection from stressors such as the sun and pollution. The compound glabridin in licorice can inhibit your melanin producing enzyme by as much as 50% without damaging your skin cells. Licorice root extract is effective in reducing the appearance of dark spots and contains anti-inflammatory properties to soothe the skin and reduce redness from sunburn.

Kojic Acid – This acid is commonly referred to as the natural version of hydroquinone because it is quite effective in reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Kojic acid is a crystal-like substance derived from mushrooms that are native to Asia.. It has become well known for its unique ability to penetrate deep into the skin and limit melanin production. It is also a great exfoliating agent removing dead skin cells, oil and dirt trapped on the skin.

Arbutin – This natural ingredient is also often listed as Alpha Arbutin. It is produced by extracting compounds from the bearberry plant and it has been proven to effectively lighten freckles, dark spots and other skin discolorations caused by unprotected sun exposure or bodily changes such as pregnancy.  Arbutin slowly releases into the skin and interferes with the activity of tyrosinase, which is needed to produce pigment in the skin.  Recently, it has become more popular because it provides a less irritating alternative to hydroquinone.  


Experience the Maximum Benefits

While each of these ingredients have their own effective skin-lightening properties, they become even more powerful in combating uneven skin tone and dark patches when combined in a skin brightening formulation. One such product that combines these “hero” Ingredients, is AlumierMD’s Intellibright Complex. This lightweight serum is a unique product in that it is  safe to use on all skin types. It is hydroquinone-free and packed with natural skin-lightening agents to brighten your complexion and reduce the appearance of dark spots caused by hyperpigmentation.

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In order to experience the maximum benefit from products such as Intellibright Complex, it is important that you are consistent with application morning and night.  Results do take time to appear, so be patient and continue to apply the serum as directed. The end result will be a glowing, bright complexion that will be well worth the wait.
If you want to maintain healthy, glowing skin after summer, consider using products that contain natural ingredients. They are just as effective as chemical-based alternatives, and  you won't have to worry about harmful side effects. Use the power of nature to fight dark spots and achieve a more even skin tone.