With recent research demonstrating the #1 factor determining the appearance of a woman’s age is skin brightness, it’s no wonder that skin brighteners are more popular than ever. One such product is Skinceuticals Pigment Regulator ($75.00, Amazon.com), featuring a high concentration of glycolic acid, kojic acid, aminosulfonic acid, and vitamin C-rich Embilica extract.
According to a recent study, an undisclosed number of men and women aged 25 to 60 found that Pigment Regulator delivered similar skin lightening results to 4 percent hydroquinone, except without the irritation and other potential side effects of hydroquinone. Another study, by Ellis and Garcia, demonstrates a similar effect: kojic acid combined with glycolic acid was found to be more effective than 10% glycolic acid or 4% hydroquinone (prescription-strength!) for the treatment of hyperpigmentation. This makes sense scientifically, considering that kojic acid lightens the skin solely by suppressing tyrosinase activity (by inhibiting catecholase activity of tyrosinase), while glycolic acid advances desquamation and thinning of the stratum corneum (the uppermost layer of the skin). By exfoliating the top layer of the skin, glycolic acid smoothes the skin and accelerates the rate of cell turnover. Meanwhile, hydroquinone simply works by inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase by acting as a melanocyte cytotoxic inhibitor, indicating that not only does a kojic acid-glycolic acid offer additional exfoliation, but also circumvent the potential cytotoxicity introduced with hydroquinone use.
Further, the introduction of Embilica extract provides a source of vitamin C. Like hydroquinone and kojic acid, vitamin C acts as a tyrosinase inhibitor, suppressing pigmentation of the skin. Even better, vitamin C also provides the benefit of antioxidant protection, though additional antioxidant protection may still be desired from other formulas: according to a 2006 study by McDaniel et. al, vitamin C is less effective at reducing oxidative stress than similar concentrations of idebenone or vitamin E, kinetin, or ubiquinone.
Still, if you are looking for a product that has the punch of prescription hydroquinone without the prescription (or the potential for toxicity-based ochronosis), look no further than Skinceuticals Pigment Regulator. It’s a favorite already, and one of the very few products to get a 9/10 rating on this blog! Product Rating: 9/10. (High concentration of proven effective ingredients: 3/3. Unique formulation or new technology: 3/3. Value for the money: 3/3. Sunscreen: 0/1).