Face whitening products may sound like they’re intended for skin bleaching, but the concept of whitening in Asian beauty products isn’t that radical. For Asian skin whitening products, “whitening” leans more towards brightening, as well as evening out the complexion and improving skin tone in general.
Asian Skin and Hyperpigmentation
Melanin, the pigment produced by skin cells, helps block out damaging UV rays — but only up to a point. This is why people with naturally darker skin are less likely to get sunburned, while people with lighter skin are more likely to burn. However, UV exposure can cause overproduction of melanin, resulting in hyperpigmentation. This is what happens when skin suffers from sun damage, acne, inflammation or other injuries.
According to this 2010 article from the American Academy of Dermatology, Asians tend to suffer from the more inflammatory type of acne, resulting in deeper acne pustules and papules.
“Asian skin has an increased amount of melanin, and the cells that make melanin tend to be more sensitive to any type of inflammation or injury,” says dermatologist Roopal V. Kundu in the article. When the acne heals, dark spots are left due to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). These spots can be reduced with the help of products that contain skin-brightening ingredients such as AHAs in the form of glycolic, lactic or ascorbic acids. Regular use of sunscreen can also help to reduce further UV damage.
The Road to Radiant Skin
An effective way to improve skin tone involves regular use of whitening products, and some time and patience to see visible results. If you follow a multi-step skin care routine, using the best skin whitening products at each step ensures all discolorations are treated regularly. A daily routine for skin whitening also means the brightening effect is gradual and even, making it look more natural.
Cleansers and Exfoliators
Using a brightening cleanser like The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Foam is a good first step towards smooth and glowing skin. Using a pore-cleansing mask or wash-off mask helps get rid of excess oil and dead skin cells inside pores that may cause blemishes. The Skinfood Egg White Pore Mask is an egg white face mask that also uses bentonite clay to clarify skin and tighten pores.
Using a toner suitable for your skin type after cleansing restores the pH balance of skin to prevent dryness while also refining the complexion. The Hada Labo Arbutin Whitening Lotion (Rich) combines the whitening benefits of arbutin with hyaluronic acid to help restore and retain moisture in skin while also providing gentle brightening. You can pour a small amount on your palms and pat it directly onto your cleansed face. You can also apply a quick DIY face mask by soaking several cotton pads with the lotion and leaving them on your forehead, cheeks, nose and chin for at least five minutes.
In Asian skin care, fermented ingredients are some of the most popular solutions to achieving whiter skin, thanks to the natural acids generated through the fermentation process. Fermenting preserves the nutritional value of the ingredient and increases its potency. Some ferment-based products such as the COSRX Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence refine complexion by gently removing dead skin cells, minimizing pores and brightening skin.
Serums and Ampoules
Serums and ampoules have a higher concentration of active ingredients and do a more intensive job of whitening your face or body. You can include either or both in your skin care routine. Vitamin C serums are proven to be effective in fading acne scars (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH) as well as lightening blemishes and freckles. An antioxidant face serum, Elizavecca Vitamin C 100% Powder + Vita-multi Whitening Source Serum features a more stable formula of ascorbic acid in powder form, to be mixed with the niacinamide-based brightening serum manually.
Elizavecca – Vitamin C 100% Powder + Vita-multi Whitening Source Serum | Secret Key – SYN-AKE Anti Wrinkle & Whitening Ampoule | The History of Whoo – Gongjinhyang Seol Whitening Essence Sun Cream Set: Sun Cream + Balancer + Lotion + Cream
Skin dryness tends to exaggerate hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. A moisturizing face or body cream with whitening ingredients such as niacinamide, licorice extract or arbutin can do a great job of restoring hydration to skin while also gradually fading dark spots and patches. The CHICA Y CHICO Nude Fantasy Whitening Cream combines niacinamide and arbutin as well as titanium dioxide to give you a radiant glow from top to toe.
It’s been proven that sun exposure is the number one cause of skin aging. Applying a high-SPF sunscreen daily ensures all the products and time spent on your skin care routine pay off. An SPF 50+ sunscreen for the face, neck and other exposed areas provides lasting protection for your skin whether you’re indoors or outside. Make sure to choose a sunscreen appropriate for your skin type and activities. A sunscreen like THANK YOU FARMER’s Sun Project Water Sun Cream with SPF50+ PA+++ is light enough to go under your makeup and be reapplied during the day. For those who are outdoors most of the time, a waterproof and sweatproof formula can keep up with your heavy-duty schedule.