Go to any department store, and you’ll see tons of “brightening” products and not blink an eye. However, enter the world of Korean beauty, and you might be confronted with products labeled “whitening”.
Don’t be alarmed - it’s nothing like the “whitening” detergent you use on your whites.
The concept of “whitening” doesn’t come from actually wanted to make your face white. It comes from old values of beauty that perceive the ideal beauty to have luminous, pearlescent skin. The phenomenon of Korean women wanting “white” skin isn’t because they want to be… white, as in caucasian. It’s that they want skin that’s bright and glowing instead of dull and splotchy.
Now that summer is coming to an end, you may find yourself as some of us do: a bit too much fun in the sun resulting in some dark spots or uneven skin tone. Or, maybe the chemical imbalance of saltwater at the beach or chlorine in pool on your skin has caused some breakouts this summer along with those annoying post-acne marks caused by a build up of melanin (it's what produces color and pigmentation in your skin).
Brightening products are essential for treating hyperpigmentation, in other words, evening out your skin tone and creating a flawless canvas.
Ingredients To Look Out For
Radiance-inducing ingredients are actually pretty common, but some of the hard-hitters that you’ll want to watch out for include:
Licorice can help reduce the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation because it contains something called “glabridin” which inhibits the enzyme that causes skin to darken. Glabridin helps decrease the production of melanin and will help even out those dark spots.
Vitamin C inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, which helps produce melanin. By inhibiting tyrosinase, Vitamin C basically helps prevent melanin production so that the dark spots and hyperpigmentation stop dead in their tracks. Vitamin C as been found to lighten the areas affected by hyperpigmentation but leave unaffected areas alone so it knows to focus on those troubled spots.
A vitamin B derivative, niacinamide has been known to have positive effects on lightening hyperpigmentation marks on skin by suppressing the transfer of melanin to the outer layer of the skin. It's different in that while some ingredients inhibit the production of melanin, niacinamide prevents melanin transfer so that color-inducing pigment can't get to the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin.
It's been shown that the derivatives of the mulberry plant's root bark inhibit tyrosinase similar to Vitamin C. As mentioned above, tyrosinase helps produce the pigment-causing melanin so inhibiting tyrosinase means inhibiting those annoying dark colored spots.
When melanin build up has occurred one way to tackle it is to increase exfoliation so that you can continuously reveal new, fresh skin. Fruit extracts help with very gently exfoliation. Fruit extracts help soften and exfoliate skin which in turns helps to fade dark spots and remove dead skin cells.
A form of vitamin A, retinols work at the cellular level to increase cell turnover, stimulate collagen and elastin production, and fade hyperpigmentation. As already written about, retinols can be very strong so use with caution and under the supervision of your doctor so that you can ease these products into your skin care routine.
These ingredients target discoloration while treating the whole complexion for dullness and uneven skin tone.
Products We Love
Cremorlab White Bloom Triple Bright Floral Mask
Our love for sheet masks knows no bounds, and this Cremorlab mask is our go-to when we feel a little… lackluster. It’s full of floral and fruit extracts to brighten while their famous thermal water hydrates over-stimulated skin.
Be The Skin Purifying White Waterfall Toner
Don’t let the “White” label fool you. This pH balancing other filled with natural ingredients helps to calm and illuminate the skin with good for you floral & botanical extracts like antioxidant rich green tea.
Mizon Good Night White Sleeping Mask
Made with niacinamide, this sleeping mask goes to work at night during your beauty sleep. Your sleeping hours are some of the most productive for your skin, as it uses that time to repair and renew. While it's repairing and renewing itself, this sleeping mask and its ingredients helps skin go into hyper drive so that it can optimize the ingredients for greatest impact. You'll wake up with brighter skin by morning time.
The “brightening” aspect of “whitening” products was simply lost in translation, but we’ve quickly come around to speaking the Korean beauty language.