8 Best De-Pigmenting & Brightening Actives according to Dermatologists.

Updated: Apr 27, 2021

Pigmentations or Dark Spots or Hyperpigmentation or Melasma, What every you name it, fundamentally, it spoils your complexion and may make your skin look really bad. As you might have heard a well known saying " Face is the Index of the Mind " and Dermatologists believe the ViceVersa where a healthy radiant and spotless face may make a person feel more confident. There might not be an overnight solution or a magic ingredient that makes your pigmentation disappear in an Instant, there are some skincare actives that the dermatologists believe they are wonderful enough to treat various pigmentations when used in a systematic manner.




Pigmentations or Dark Spots or Hyperpigmentation or Melasma, Whatever you name it, fundamentally, it spoils your complexion and may make your skin look really bad. As you might have heard a well known saying " Face is the Index of the Mind " and Dermatologists believe the ViceVersa where a healthy radiant and spotless face may make a person feel more confident. There might not be an overnight solution or a magic ingredient that makes your pigmentation disappear in an Instant, there are some skincare actives that the dermatologists believe are wonderful enough to treat various pigmentations when used in a systematic manner.



1. Hydroquinone


A Gold Standard Active that almost every dermatologist will vouch for in terms of fading the pigmentation. Hydroquinone bleaches your skin ( decreasing the number of melanocytes (cells make melanin, which is what produces your skin tone) present) which is quite useful in treating a variety of pigmentation disorders. That being said, the de-pigmentation activity of hydroquinone comes from a concept of "Cytotoxic" whitening which means, whitening activity through cell death. Sometimes, hydroquinone has caused a condition called Ochronosis (Sometimes irreversible bluish-black pigmentation on the face) through a prolonged use of the product. Also, Hydroquinone has tendencies to vigorously irritate and sensitise the skin which is why most of the products you find containing Hydroquinone are coupled with Tretinoin (Vitamin A) and a steroid like Mometasone or Fluocinolone (Medium strength corticosteroid typically used to treat various skin conditions like Eczema, Dermatitis) which on prolonged usage can enter into the bloodstream and cause potential problems and disrupts the stratum corneum " Epidermis of the skin".



2. Kojic Acid


One of the First Generation De-Pigmentation active as an alternative to Hydroquinone. Acclaimed as one of the best next to hydroquinone as it does not need to be coupled with corticosteroids. Kojic Acid is derived from various fermentation processes usually with malting rice. Kojic Acid is a potent tyrosinase inhibitor works good when combined with a good exfoliating active such as Glycolic Acid. Kojic Acid containing products are in the top 10 choices of many dermatologists to treat various pigmentations. On the Contrary, Kojic Acid also has a bleaching effect on the skin through cell death whitening. Side effects of Kojic Acid which are frequently observed are sensitisation of the skin, Contact Dermatitis, and irritation.



3. Alpha Arbutin


Gold standard alternative to hydroquinone. Far more safer, very few reported cases of irritation, mostly from a natural source such as berries. The De-Pigmentation activity is more through inhibiting an enzyme called Tyrosinase which is essential for forming pigmentation rather than bleaching process. It suppresses the amount of melanin reaching to the top layer of the skin.


4. Resorcinol


Avant Garde Substitute for Kojic Acid & Hydroquinone. Both in terms of Safety & Efficacy. There are studies which prove that 0.5% of Resorcinol ( PhenylEthyl Resorcinol) works better than 1% of Kojic Acid. Also, it is considered to be one of the most potent tyrosinases ever reported. Derived from Pine Tree makes the ingredient a lot safer than Hydroquinone.


5. Retinol ( Vitamin A Derivatives)


Retinol (Vitamin A) is considered one of the best-known skin care ingredients for dermatologists. Whether it is as a procedural treatment or in a personal care product, all dermatologists vouch for the ingredient. Specifically used for Anti Aging, Brightening and Depigmenting Purposes. On the contrary, formulating a good product with retinol is one herculean job for any product manufacturer. Stability of the product, Irritation and burning sensation to the skin are the most common problems with the Active.


6. Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine.


A new generation active that is a lipo-amino acid that is a phenylalanine biovector and alpha-MSH antagonist for guaranteed lightening action. One of the most promising ingredients for a flash brightening effect on the skin when combined with exfoliators. More than 5 Publications with clinical studies on all skin types and tones, which makes Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine (Sepiwhite MSH) one of the most researched new ingredients that you need to have in your skincare routine.


7. Niacinamide


A true wonder vitamin that is a MUST for all types of skincare routines says Dermatologist. Niacinamide is a pro anti-inflammatory active, probably the most promising, that dermatologists trust when it comes to catering to De-Pigmentation and Acne Care. Furthermore, it increases the ceramide and fatty acid levels in the skin to obliterate dryness. Also known to be a great AntiOxidant active that again, is a MUST for all skincare routines.


8. Natural Brighteners and De-pigmentation actives


There are many products with tall claims about natural products, natural activities but as a dermatologist, I personally wouldn't be attracted towards those. I believe in natural ingredients but, only phytochemicals i.e active components derived from Natural Ingredients. I would prefer products having tetrahydrocurcumin (Active component of Turmeric) instead of Turmeric, Also I love Products which have Glycogen (An incredible active component in Corn that is identical to human glycogen) rather than having Corn extract. Similarly, you can find great results from Papain/ Bromelain ( Derived from Papaya/ PineApple), Malic Acid ( Derived from Apple) & Galbradin ( from Licorice) containing products are always dermatologists preferred.



Pro Derma Tip:

If you have Dark Skin Dislocations concerns, make sure to have a combination of 2-4 of the above actives at their recommended concentration.

Consistency is key to treating hyperpigmentation. You’ll want to use the product containing ingredient every day for maximum results. When Using Hydroquinone or Kojic Acid, Always reach out to a dermatologist.



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