Ingredient Highlight: Botanical Brighteners

Those darn sun spots, age spots … Discoloration (hyper-pigmentation) is a reminder of the sun sins of our past, or in the case of melasma, hormonal changes.

Botanical Brighteners promise relief, but which ones to look for and how do they work?

Botanical brightening extracts work on two different levels: some brighten the skin, while other plant derived ingredients suppress melanin activation – the pigment production in the skin.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C should be part of every skincare regimen for even-toned complexion. Vitamin C is an amazing antioxidant with inherent sun protection. It brightens hyper-pigmented spots on the skin, but does not lightening the skin. Plus, it helps with that healthy glow. Many serums and lotions have Vitamin C in their formulation. Avoid vitamin C if you have allergies or sensitive skin, though. It can cause redness, irritation and tingling. Never go the DIY route of using citrus fruit – you can seriously burn your skin.


Licorice root works twofold with regards to pigmentation: it is a tyrosinase inhibitor (it suppresses melanin which is responsible for pigmentation or darkening of the skin). And it helps to break up and remove melanin and pigmentation in the skin. Licorice is soothing and can often be found in brightening serums that should be used daily for best results.

Kojic Acid

Kojic Acid is a common natural lightening agent produced by several species of fungi. It is s a by-product of fermentation of carbohydrates such as rice and soybeans and inhibits the activation of melanin. It also works to eliminate already existing melanin. Therefore, Kojic acid eliminates age spots while preventing new age spots. Kojic Acid penetrates the upper layers of the skin causing a lightening effect. It is often found in serums and is used in peels. Side effects might include redness and irritation. Start slowly and follow your aesthetician’s recommendation.


Mulberry extract is a powerful brightening agent. Extracted from both roots and stems, the extracts block melanin. It is generally well tolerated and won’t likely cause irritation.

There many more botanical brighteners available to help lighten and brighten the skin and prevent further pigmentation. Willow bark, Neem Leaf, Illumiscin, Seashine, Bearberry, … many more. Botanical brighteners should always be used in tandem with SPF to prevent future darkening of the skin. Other ingredients that encourage cell turnover and peeling will also be helpful to help lighten pigmentation.

Ask our aestheticians Asia or Julie which products would be right for you to achieve your skin goals!