The newest launch from Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense with 5% Niacinamide, 3% Tranexamic Acid, and 1% Kojic Acid. Based on these hero ingredients, you’d expect improvements in skin discoloration as a result of excessive UV exposure, hormonal fluctuations, acne scars, melasma, aging, etc.
To better understand how this product works, it is important to understand the formulation and chosen star ingredients. My focus for this post is going to be Tranexamic acid, a water soluble amino acid hugely popular in south east Asia while gaining momentum in western markets. This ingredient is by no means a new discovery, and it’s been around for a long time. By the very nature of its properties, this acid is used for blood clotting during surgeries, heavy periods, etc. However, in the skincare world, this ingredient is used in small amounts to reduce redness and improve pigmented spots. Used to treat melasma or hyperpigmentation caused by UV radiation, photosensitization (can be caused due to essential oils too), hormonal influences, post spots scars (HIP). Known to be just as effective as Hydroquinone, which is fantastic news for coloured skins given our limitations with using Hydroquinone.
There are myriad ways of delivery and formulation around this ingredient. As for Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense the product is paired with Niacinamide and Kojic Acid, while SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 paired with Niacinamide, Phenylethyl Resorcinol (antioxidant ingredient used for lightening and brightening – synthetic compound derived from scotch pine bark), Tetrapeptide-3.0, Marine Algae Extract and Phytic acid, and Su-man Velvet skin brightening serum paired with Hyaluronic acid and Dragons blood extract. Ultimately it depends on your skin needs and what ingredients are you looking for as a ‘package’.
As mentioned earlier Asian markets already love this ingredient and widely used in sheet masks such as My Beauty Diary, Kose (Clear Turn) and Essence and Serums from Hada Labo (Shirojyun Premium), Shiseido (White Lucent, Aqualabel), Cle de Peau (Brightening Serum), Naruko (Apple and Tranexamic acid line), Bio essence (Tanaka White range with Tanaka extract, Kojic acid and Arbutin). This can be an endless list, therefore the point is, it is a widely used, effective ingredient and available in various formats and formulations. These are some combinations summarized which can help you identify which product formulation would best address your needs:
|Niacinamide||Rosacea prone skin
Reduces redness and it has anti-inflammatory effects
|Reduces bacterial activity
Reduce increased activity of natural proteases
|Kojic Acid||Protein called Tyrosinase
Prevents skin pigmentation and help with brightening
|Arbutin||Derived synthetically but naturally derived from Bearberry plant
Prevents skin pigmentation and help with brightening
Lets focus on Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense’s Ingredient listing (key ingredients will be bolded):
Aqua / Water, Butylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid (HEPES), Glycerin, Tranexamic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Hydroxyethyl Urea, Kojic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Allantoin, Chlorphenesin, Xanthan Gum, Disodium Edta
The claims of “improves the appearance of skin discoloration, brightens skin, and evens skin tone” aligns well with the ingredient listing. Improvement of discoloration, brightening and evening of skin tone is covered by Tranexamic Acid, Niacinamide, and Kojic Acid. On the other hand we have HEPES….not Herpes! A synthetically-derived acid activates natural enzymes in skin to help break the bonds that bind dead skin cells to the surface for even exfoliation. The formulation is developed with a targeted and focused inci list for specific skin concern. Also this can be used on all skin types.
Now onto my experience with Discoloration Defense – initially completely thrown off by the consistency and texture of the serum. I tried applying at ‘serum stage’ but didn’t see any visible impact or improvement, possibly because it didn’t absorb in skin so well (due to other products used before). With that in mind, I changed my method, now I use it in the following order of my routine:
Option 1: cleanse – acid – toning mist – Discoloration Defense – Sheet mask with Tranexamic Acid – seal with cream/oil/balm
Option 2: cleanse – acid – toning mist – Discoloration Defense – essence (thicker than toning mist) – layering another treatment product (optional) – cream/oil/balm
The point is, due to the thinner (almost water like but slightly thicker than water) consistency, I use it before essence or any other denser product. Simple rule of thumb, thinnest to thickest. Give it a few minutes to soak and I feel it leaves a sticky residue on skin but following by balm or cream or oil, it’s almost negated. In terms of visible improvements on skin, long story short it works for me with some visible improvements. I used all over and as a spot treatment as well. Also, used in conjunction with Naruko Dermalane Mandelic Acid serum the results are astounding (almost an accelerated improvement). Given some of the scarring and pigmentation is fairly recent and new, the improvement was visibly faster. The older stubborn patches are still working their way through, although I think I might need something tad more aggressive and deeper for that (laser or peels). Effective yet gentle on skin, no dryness, tightness, flakiness or any such side effects.
Speaking of which in south east Asia (also in Europe), a combination of fruit acid peels, microdermabrasion, IPL and laser treatments is used in conjunction with liposomal tranexamic acid preparations. One important point to note is, Tranexamic acid is effective in low dosage; high dosage will not improve the effects but rather cause irritations to the skin (as with many skincare active ingredients). With that said, I hope more and more brands embrace this ingredient and formulate some products around it particularly for western markets.