Five of the Best Brightening Ingredients in Skin Care


wolfandmoroko 5 Top Brightening Ingredients in Skin Care

Hyperpigmentation is one of the biggest skin care concerns. This comes as no surprise thanks in part to acne, sun damage and hormonal changes. Since my skin is prone to acne and eczema I’m no stranger to hyperpigmentation; I have developed quite the eye for skin care with brightening benefits that I can incorporate into my regime. Such skin care is one of the best ways to achieve even toned skin and keep it that way – with less chances of future discoloration.

Do remember that sun exposure can make hyperpigmentation worse so using a broad spectrum sunscreen together with your brightening product would be a great way to treat the discoloration. Adding a Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) like glycolic acid would also assist greatly in getting rid of the dull, discolored top layer of the skin and increase the rate of skin cell renewal. The  COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid   has a 7% concentration of glycolic acid  as well as  niacinamide, a must have ingredient for your ‘age well’ arsenal and  sodium hyaluronate, a hydrating ingredient.

If you have mild to moderate hyperpigmentation, here are some great non-prescription brightening ingredients, in no particular order, to consider adding to your skin care.

Vitamin C

If you have been following me for a while now, you would know that I absolutely love Vitamin C in my skin care. Vitamin C is a naturally occurring compound with great antioxidant properties. It boosts collagen production, sun protection, evens and brightens skin tone.

There are various forms of Vitamin C in skin care and using a serum is one of the best ways to include it in your routine. Properly storing your Vitamin C is also critical in preventing oxidation that would render it useless.

Try it in…

OST C 20 Original Pure Vitamin C 20 Serum

FutureDerm Vitamin CE Caffeic Silk Serum 16+2


Another favorite of mine, niacinamide is an antioxidant derived from niacin or vitamin B3. It is a potent cell-communicating ingredient that improves the skin’s protective function, stimulates collagen production, evens skin tone and treats mild skin irritation and acne.

I believe Procter & Gamble pioneered niacinamide research which is why you will find it as an active ingredient in a lot of their skin care, namely, Olay.

Try it in…

Olay Regenerist Luminous Tone Perfecting Treatment 

Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum

COSRX Galactomyces 95 White Power Essence


Licorice extract is a well known brightening ingredient with soothing anti inflammatory properties. Anti-inflammation is very important when skin brightening because irritation may lead to an increase in melanin production – which defeats the purpose of the treatment!

Licorice extract contains glabridin which inhibits tyrosinase (the melanin producing enzyme) from producing excess melanin that would otherwise result in hyperpigmentation.

Try it in…

It’s Skin Power 10 Formula LI Effector

NATURE REPUBLIC Saccharomyces Ferment The First Essence

Alpha Arbutin

Arbutin was extracted from the bearberry plant and has a similar chemical composition to *hydroquinone – without the potentially irritating effects. Like licorice, arbutin can inhibit tyrosinase to reduce the formation of melanin and brighten discoloration. It’s a gentle brightening ingredient, that may work well for sensitive skin.

Try it in…

Hadalabo Shirojyun Arbutin Lotion

BENTON Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream

Kojic Acid

Kojic acid is a brightening ingredient derived from a species of mushroom native to Japan. It has some antioxidant properties and  like licorice and arbutin, functions as a tyrosinase inhibitor – making it very effective at reducing melanin production.

Kojic acid can be irritating and quite unstable (sounds like an annoying relative, eh?). Just like when it comes to Vitamin C,  make sure to purchase products that come in air tight and photo sensitive packaging.

Try it in…

Palmer’s Skin Success Eventone Ultra Fade Serum


While hydroquinone is considered one of the best ingredients to brighten skin discoloration, I haven’t included it on the list due to its controversy- it’s banned in some countries.

Used at maximum concentrations of 2% (Over-The-Counter) and 4%(prescribed) for short periods of time (usually 4 months), hydroquinone is considered safe.

Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, dangerous amounts of hydroquinone (above 4%) are being sold and used by individuals, with terrible results.

You can read more about hydroquinone here. 


Please note that I can’t guarantee that all of the make-up and skincare products I recommend will suit you. Everyone’s skin is different and it’s possible to be allergic to anything. Wherever possible, patch test your products before purchasing.
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10 thoughts on “Five of the Best Brightening Ingredients in Skin Care

    • It’s a pleasure :-). You’ll notice that most of the skin care is Asian. I”m a huge fan of Asian skin care because of the great prices and world class ingredients. Plus, they are easier to access than many Western brands.


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