Ingredient Spotlight, Skin Care

Best Ingredients for Brightening Your Skin

When it comes to skincare, it can be frustrating to work so hard to get rid of concerns like acne or signs of aging, just to wake up and have your skin look and feel dull. It’s common for many people to have dull, dehydrated, or just non-glowy skin, especially if you’re not incorporating the right mix of ingredients in your skincare routine- day and night. There are a handful of ingredients that have been proven to help brighten dull skin-you might recognize some as being useful for other skin conditions such as acne and signs of aging as well. Be sure not to mix too many ingredients, or double up on those that don’t work well together. Check out our blog on The Dos and Don’ts of Mixing Skincare Ingredients for a refresher on what can be used together!

The Holy Grail – Vitamin C: This vitamin typically found in your favorite fruits is hailed as a beloved ingredient for a variety of skincare conditions-most notably, dull skin. You’ll see Vitamin C on an ingredient list going by a few different names, including ascorbic acid, L-ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, etc. Vitamin C is important all throughout your body, as it helps with tissue repair and the production of enzymes. As far as your skin goes, Vitamin C promotes the production of collagen, which helps to diminish fine lines and wrinkles, and is a topical antioxidant, meaning that it helps block free radical¬† (sun) damage to your skin cells. When it comes to brightening your skin, Vitamin C is known to inhibit the production of melanin, an enzyme in your body that can cause dark spots and uneven skin tone. It helps to facilitate the turnover of cells, ridding the skin of dull, dead skin cells, and replacing them with bright new ones quicker. Vitamin C is best used in your morning routine due to its free-radical fighting abilities and can be found in different formulations.



Glowbiotics Advanced Vitamin C Brightening Serum: This powerful serum has a dual complex Vitamin C formula to defend your skin from free radicals and improve the look of uneven skin tone.




Allies of Skin 20% Vitamin C Brighten + Firm Serum: Combines orange extract with 20% Vitamin C to promote radiant skin, increasing elasticity and smoothness.




DCL C Scape High Potency Serum: Uses Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, seaweed extract and amino acids to brighten dull skin while keeping it hydrated and smooth.



Niacinamide: Many believe that niacinamide gets overlooked compared to Vitamin C, because it’s beloved for its brightening and hydrating benefits for the skin. Niacinamide, otherwise known as Vitamin B3, isn’t created organically by the skin, which makes it necessary for us to ingest or apply it topically to reap its benefits. Niacinamide is extremely helpful in restoring the skin, whether it be from sun damage, acne scars, etc. It’s also known to prevent the transfer of melanin within the skin, which helps eliminate dark spots and promote a brighter, more even skin tone, as well as keep the skin hydrated and plump. It’s also safe and gentle for sensitive skin and can be used synergistically with many products.


Elta MD Barrier Renewal Complex: This moisturizer is infused with niacinamide, ceramides, biotin, and squalane to help restore your moisture barrier and reveal an even, bright skin tone.



Arbutin: Arbutin is a natural extract derived from the bearberry plant. It functions to inhibit enzymes that work to create melanin in the skin, therefore preventing dark spots or hyperpigmentation from forming on the skin. Arbutin also helps to protect your skin from the sun, is gentle enough for those with sensitive skin, and has no negative reactions with other skincare ingredients.



SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum: This powerhouse serum is formulated to tackle even the most stubborn discoloration of the skin, leading to a healthy and bright glow.



iS Clinical Brightening Complex: Formulated with alpha-arbutin, lactic acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid, this treatment lightens and brightens the skin while keeping it moisturized and hydrated.


Lactic Acid: Lactic acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid, which many know to be used to chemically exfoliate the skin. Lactic acid is produced naturally within your body but used topically, it has great benefits for the skin. It’s a humectant, meaning that it helps to draw in moisture to the skin to bring extra hydration. It also stimulates the production of collagen, dissolves dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, and reveals a brighter complexion. It’s great for most skin types, as it tends to be more gentle than other alpha or beta hydroxy acids.


PCA Skin Pigment Gel: This hydroquinone-free spot treatment helps to tackle dark spots and brighten the skin with lactic acid, azelaic acid, and kojic acid.


Our skin needs a lot of TLC, just like our body, and giving yourself that bright glow you’re looking for will require some changes not only in your skincare routine but in your lifestyle. It’s important that you’re drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet, and getting plenty of exercise along with keeping a consistent skincare routine.

About Dr. Alan J. Parks

Dr. Alan Parks is a board certified dermatologist. Dr. Parks founded his practice, Eastside Dermatology, in 1986 and has been practicing there ever since. In 2016 Dr. Parks launched DermWarehouse, an eCommerce website selling professional strength skin care products to customers across the United States.

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