6 Dermatologist Approved Skin Brightening Ingredients That Are So Good, You Can Toss Out Your Highlighter


Bright skin is a term that gets tossed around a lot in the skincare universe – we all love what an ingeniously placed highlighter or illuminating concealer can do.

That radiant glow that products promise to offer has been the focus of various beauty websites and makeup brands – and for a good reason.

It can magically turn you from a dull regular lass into a glowing goddess, distract from flaws, and maybe, most importantly, make it look like it maximized the recommended eight hours of sleep.

But, what if, instead of creating that radiance with layers of makeup, you could wake up with naturally glowing skin?

Cue in skin brightening ingredients is the key to achieving perfectly toned, even skin that most skincare enthusiasts dream about.

These potent elixirs help diminish dark spots, lighten up scars and freckles, refine your skin’s texture, and form an overall luminous complexion.

By adding these ingredients into your skincare routine, you might never have to rely on makeup to hide imperfections and achieve that lit-from-within glow you want.

So, what are you waiting for? The elixir to help fix dark spots and blackheads is just a scroll away!

Alpha Arbutin

Brightening Serum

Category: Reduces pigmentation

Its Use: Alpha Arbutin is a safer, less cytotoxic, natural form of hydroquinone (a controversial skin brightening ingredient that has been banned in several states) extracted from the bearberry plant.

Arbutin helps reduce hyperpigmentation. It’s particularly perfect for fading appearances of dark spots caused by sun damage and breakouts.

Top Tip: You should use Alpha Arbutin gradually during the first weeks to ensure your skin doesn’t react. Ensure to use it alongside your SPF and Vitamin C for optimal benefits.

Glycolic Acid

Category: Accelerates cell turnover

It’s Use: The cult-favorite ingredient works by breaking down dead skin cells in the top layers of your skin. As the dull cells are scraped off, they’re replaced by fresh, glowing ones.

It makes your skin appear radiant and, over time, helps fade the appearance of scars and hyperpigmentation.

Top Tip: Since glycolic acid sloughs off dead skin cells, make sure you use it alongside sunscreen to shield the treated spots from sun damage.

You can also choose to use it in the evening after cleansing and before slathering on your serums and moisturizer. Be sure to avoid using it with retinol or Vitamin C.

Kojic Acid

Category: Reduces skin discoloration

Its Use: Extracted from mushroom-like fungi, Kojic acid is considered one of the best natural lightening skin agents.

According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, the super-powerful ingredient has been clinically shown to help reduce hyperpigmentation issues.

It works by blocking the function of tyrosinase, the protein tasked with producing melanin. It also features antioxidant properties and is ideal for sun-damaged or sensitive skin.

Top Tip: Kojic acid can trigger some side effects like redness or irritation. Therefore, before committing to it, be sure to conduct a patch test first to see how your skin reacts.

It would help if you also used it in the evening and always wear sunscreen the morning after application.

Lactic Acid

Category: Improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

Its Use: Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that sloughs off the upper layers of dead skin cells, stimulates skin cells renewal, and makes your skin look brighter.

The skincare universe’s darling ingredient also works to improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles.

Top Tip: Apply in the evening after cleansing and before using serums and moisturizer. Please don’t use it alongside retinol, hyaluronic acid, or Vitamin C.

Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide)

Category: Evens out skin tone and reduces discoloration

Its Use: No list of skin brightening ingredients would be complete without mentioning Niacinamide.

The potent ingredient has been shown to help reduce melanin production (pigment) and helps your skin retain moisture, making it feel softer and smoother all day long.

The water-soluble vitamin also visibly minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores, and diminished dullness.

It also helps improve uneven skin tone and tighten stretched-out pores.

Top Tip: Use it after cleansing and before applying your moisturizer and SPF.

Several dermatologists recommend using it alongside retinol for maximum results.

Vitamin C

Category: Provides anti-aging benefits

It’s Use: From brightening, firm, and anti-aging, there’s nothing this skincare superstar can’t do. Vitamin C works by preventing inflammation and inhibiting pigment production.

This allows the skin from forming marks after a trauma like sun damage or post-acne pigmentation.

It also supports collagen production, thus giving you softer, smoother, and more radiant skin.

Top tip: Apply in the morning and avoid using it alongside retinol, AHAs, and BHAs.




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