These whitening trends are the next breakthroughs in creating a brighter, more radiant complexion, and Moh Shuying’s got the black and white on them – zilch grey spots.
Fact: One of the fastest ways to brighten the complexion is via exfoliation. As we age, our natural cell renewal cycle slows down, causing a build up of dead cells on skin’s surface. These cells aren’t just laden with melanin; they make skin uneven and – like anything rough – reduces its ability to reflect light and, in turn, look radiant.
Designed to give the results of a professional spa treatment, Elizabeth Arden’s Visible Whitening Retexturizing Pads ($85) contain 5 per cent glycolic acid to exfoliate the top layers of skin, boosting cell renewal and creating a more luminous, translucent complexion.
Bobbi Brown’s Radiance Boost ($64) is a retexturising wash-off mask with immediate results. Its fine walnut grain beads gently slough off dead cells, improving microcirculation and instantly brightening skin.
The effects of Shiseido’s White Lucent Microtargeting Spot Corrector ($155) aren’t as quick, but promise to be longer lasting. Inspired by laser treatments, this watery serum reduces the appearance of pigmentation by getting rid of dead skin cells on the surface, in turn peeling away unnecessary layers of melanin sans damage.
There’s a good reason why many whitening beauty products are broken down into day and night formulas: Skin follows a circadian rhythm, a biological process that affects the way our body works in a 24-hour cycle. In the day, skin accumulates damage from external aggressors, such as pollution, that can trigger melanin production. Come night, it goes into repair mode, with processes including natural exfoliation (bye-bye melanin-laden dead skin cells). But it also means that melanin production hits a peak (hello hyperpigmentation and dark spots). These four recent launches work in sync with these biological mechanisms to improve skin’s radiance.
Shiseido’s White Lucent Multibright Night Cream ($115) banks on skin’s restorative properties during twilight. Packed with antioxidants and the anti-inflammatory sakura extract, this multi-purpose moisturiser promises to help undo skin damage; treat uneven skin tone, pigmentation and dullness; and help with problems like loss of elasticity.
Similarly, L’Occitane’s Reine Blanche Whitening Sleeping Mask ($112) is meant to repair damage and lighten dark spots while you snooze. Created for Asian women – our skin tends to be more delicate – its gel-cream texture melts into the complexion and is infused with organic Reine des Pres (aka meadowsweet plant), which boasts natural salicylic acid that refines skin texture, as well as vitamin C and white mulberry to brighten complexion.
Estee Lauder’s Intensive Hydrating Essence Mask ($154 for a box of six) is the brand’s latest addition to its Crescent White Full Cycle Brightening range, which debuted last year. The line features a complex cocktail of antioxidants to fight free radical damage, alongside technology dubbed SIRT that is said to boost skin’s protein levels to defend against UV rays. This latest addition is to be applied before bedtime and – thanks to a blend of vitamin C, molasses and sea fern extract – promises to break up pigmentation clusters, lighten dark spots, and prevent the production of excess melanin.
Chanel’s Le Blanc Intensive Whitening Spot Treatment Day and Night Duo ($134), covers both AM and PM. The day treatment has geranium extract to inhibit the activity of tryptase. Yet another product of external skin stressors, this enzyme weakens the dermal-epidermal junction (this connects the top and second layers of skin) and in turn causes melanin build-up in the upper tiers. The night treatment, meanwhile, boasts alpinia plant extract, which supposedly promotes the renewal of the epidermis (the top layer of skin). Its effect: stimulate natural exfoliation, which slows down with age.
Among the many hormones that our body produces at night is melatonin. With strong antioxidant capabilities, it regulates and calms inflammatory mediators that cause melanin (and dark spots) overload. In short, it’s skin’s self-defence system – except that it’s not released when the sun shines.
Yves Saint Laurent Beaute has come up with a clever way to get around this: something that functions like melatonin. Its Blanc Pur Couture range uses glycans (complex sugars that transmit messages from one cell to the next) that are said to soothe pigmentation-causing inflammation, balance melanocyte activity, and regulate the production and transfer of melanin.
What’s in the line: a Lotion ($119) with glycolic acid to get rid of surface dead skin cells; a Concentrate ($159) with pearl extracts to boost clarity and luminosity quick; and two moisturisers. The Milky Lotion ($139) is a lightweight gel emulsion that refreshes and soothes, while the Creme ($159) offers intense hydration.
In photography speak, the first and last hours of light in a day are known as the “golden hours”. For anyone into OOTDs and selfies, it’s that magic time when you can achieve a soft, flattering glow on the face sans filter.
La Prairie’s Cellular Radiance Perfecting Fluide Pure Gold ($845) attempts to recreate this effect, while evening out skin tone and boosting radiance. A lightweight moisturiser, it boasts a collagen-boosting “golden peptide” that is said to improve skin quality and smooth fine lines (so light can reflect better), as well as pure gold and golden photo-reflecting agents to diffuse light and blur imperfections.
Clarins has developed what’s said to be the only product in the world that targets one of the most underrated causes of dark spots. Through a tie-up with Institut Curie – yes, it has links to a certain Marie, and specialises in cancer-related matters like pigmentation – the brand discovered that a major cause of hyperpigmentation lies in the communication between melanocytes (the melanin-producing cells found at the bottom of skin’s outermost layer, the epidermis) and keratinocytes (the cells that make up the epidermis).
You see, these two types of cells communicate with one another daily to regulate normal cell function. Awesome, except that when skin becomes overwhelmed by aggressors like stress and pollution, the keratinocytes send exosomes. Think of these as overprotective guards that are armed with protein messengers to inform melanocytes to step up the production of melanin (by up to 25 per cent) as a defence mechanism. More melanin equals more protection, but it also means more dark spots.
To deal with this, Clarins has updated its White Plus Pure TranslucencyTri-intensive Brightening Serum ($130) with a new ingredient: extract from the fruit and seed of the acerola, a plant native to South America and known to be extremely rich in vitamin C. The seed essence is said to enhance cell oxygenation, which in turn improves skin radiance. That of the fruit? It reportedly inhibits protein messengers by 24.5 per cent, pretty much cancelling out exosome’s pigmentation effects.
Zen shouldn’t just be a state of mind – chronically inflamed skin leads to the overproduction of melanin, so it’s important that skin cells stay calm too. To do so, Chanel’s Le Blanc L’Extrait Intensive Youth Whitening Treatment ($415) boasts a cocktail of acids, rose hip oil and the brand’s patented TXC molecule. To be used at night for 28 days in place of your regular whitening serum, it not only promises to normalise melanin production, but also speed up the breakdown of melanin (read: lighter dark spots).
Meanwhile, Fresh has tapped on the anti-inflammatory properties of the peony – known to soothe, reduce melanin production and protect against environmental damage – for its Peony Brightening Moisture Face Cream ($110). Besides the plant’s root extract, this moisturiser has vitamin C to lighten pigmentation, liquorice root extract to brighten, and shea butter and sodium hyaluronate to hydrate for up to 24 hours.
An innovation award should go to Clinique’s dual-chambered Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector & Optimizer ($135). One chamber houses the brand’s signature Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector serum, which contains the patented CL-302 complex that reportedly lightens dark spots in just two weeks. In the other: the new soothing Optimizer, which has the antioxidant-rich gyokuro tea extract to strengthen skin and quell irritation. Together, they calm skin and treat melanin.