September 2023, South Africa – Skincare narratives around skin lightening and brightening blur the distinction between the two. The question still remains, is there a difference and how do we spot the difference? Fundamentals Skincare, a local skincare brand known for its high quality ingredients at affordable prices filters through the science so you can better understand the conversation and treat your skin accordingly. What do these terms mean and how do they materialise in formulations? Natasha Davel, from the brand answers your most burning questions and debunks some myths around this topic.
Is there a difference between skin lightening and skin brightening
In essence, when we refer to skin lightening, scientifically we are talking about reducing pigmentation and discolouration to achieve an even skin tone. Most people have observed skin lightening as a process whereby they change the colour of their natural skin to become lighter in appearance. This is untrue. Skin lightening is not bleaching or skin whitening.
Skin brightening refers to increasing the skin’s radiance and glow. Brightening is more about restoring vibrancy to the skin, having it look healthy, clear and naturally brighter. If you suffer with tired, dull looking skin – you are probably due for some skincare that can assist in exfoliating the top layer of the skin, resulting in brightening your skin’s appearance.
Which ingredients should we look for?
If you’re looking to lighten and even out your skin tone, opt for ingredients such as: Hydroquinone, Kojic Acid, Alpha Arbutin, Vitamin C, Alpha Hydroxy Acids, Beta Hydroxy Acids and Retinoids. These ingredients will assist in minimising skin discolouration caused by the sun and pollution, while helping your skin achieve a more youthful, smooth appearance and even tone.
When skin is given the ingredients it needs to maintain Hyaluronic Acid production, eliminate the build-up of dead skin cells, repair its barrier, and be protected from environmental damage, you get a brighter, healthier, younger-looking complexion.
“Exfoliators like AHAs and enzymes slough off all the dead skin cells and work on the cell surface itself, brightening the skin and helping to turn over skin cells faster. On the other hand, ingredients like niacinamide and kojic acid work on a cellular level to interfere with melanin production, so technically, as they improve skin texture and turnover and as a result can lighten skin tone too, without bleaching, irritating or aggravating your skin’s surface,” explained Davel.
Is skin lightening and brightening safe?
Skincare isn’t invasive. For this reason, if you read the ingredients carefully, understand your skin and what it needs, you will be able to use products that are suited to your skin that will provide you with your desired outcome. Choosing products that contain the ingredients mentioned above are very safe choices. Making this part of your daily skincare routine will ensure the changes become more effective. On the other hand, if you stop using your skincare, your skin may lose its bright and or even tone and will begin to lose nutrients and overtime.
What else should you keep in mind when considering lightening or brightening?
Sun exposure is the single most damaging agent to the skin. Using sunscreen daily will assist on a cellular level by interrupting damage before it gets to the layers of skin where new skin cells are formed. “When UV light attacks unprotected skin it triggers the creation of abnormal melanin production. Therefore, while sunscreen doesn’t actually work directly on living skin cells it protects them from becoming damaged and making skin look older and creating abnormal skin tone,” Added Davel.
We know sunscreen is important. In the conversation around lightening and brightening, the sun causes loss of brightness and increases dullness. The sun’s harmful UV rays can lead to increased discolouration.
“The verdict of skin brightening versus skin lightening is that they are similar and both aid the skin well in terms of overall health and appearance, and on the same token are quite different and serve a different purpose. Skin brightening gives your skin a natural glow and rejuvenates it. Skin lightening repairs your dark spots and hyperpigmentation and brings upon an even skin tone,” concluded Davel.