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Today it's part 2 of 2 in my little hyperpigmentation round-up. If you didn't see part 1 then check it out here for a run-down of how hyperpigmentation occurs, which ingredients can help treat it and how they work. This week we're talking about my favourite treatments that combine more than one of these ingredients for a multi-pronged attack on discolouration...
First up is a more budget-friendly option that really packs in a lot: the Facetheory Exaglow Serum S10 | £18.99 (30% off with code JASMINETALKSBEAUTYA30 (affiliate)). This lightweight serum is easy to slot into any skincare routine and contains so much good stuff! We have niacinamide, sodium ascorbyl phosphate (a Vitamin C derivative that can be particularly good for acne-prone skin), lactic acid at a nice, gentle concentration, tranexamic acid and licorice extract. It's pretty much water-light and there's not a ton else in here, just humectants in hyaluronic acid and glycerin, to draw hydration into the skin. I find this gentle but effective, though I'd still say to build up to incorporating it into your routine. Also, there's quite a lot going on in here so I'd stick to just using this as your only active within a routine rather than trying to layer it with a bunch of other stuff (I'd go for this in the AM, personally - followed by sunscreen, of course!)
The next product I'm going to talk about can be combined with other ingredients like a retinoid in the evening or a Vitamin C in the morning, if your skin is fully acclimated to your current routine, and that's definitely one of its pros. The Paula's Choice Clinical Discolouration Repair Serum* | £46 | is a slightly creamy gel with soothing and moisturising ingredients alongside the actives, such as soybean oil, glycerin, Vitamin E and allantoin. In terms of actives, we have niacinamide in a skin-friendly concentration of 5%, bakuchiol (this can be beneficial for preventing discolouration, I just didn't shout it out last week because it's not a show-stopper for me) and tranexamic acid. It's gentle but over the months I used this product, it absolutely made a difference to my skin with daily use.
I was in two minds as to whether to include wash-off treatments in this post, because truly: you do want to get a lot of these ingredients in leave-on products so they'll be most effective. But I think as a once-a-week intense hit: the Algenist Blue Algae Vitamin C Dark Spot Correcting Peel* | £80 | is still a really effective formula that deserves its flowers. Whilst I'm not entirely sure you will reap all of the benefits of tranexamic acid and azelaic acid in a 20-minute treatment, they're definitely a 'nice to have'. Then you have mandelic acid, glycolic acid and a little salicylic acid for that anti-blemish boost. I would use this peel as a one or twice-weekly treatment and stick to it as my only form of exfoliation, I would also keep the rest of your skincare routine simple, something like: cleanse, use this and then slather your skin in a ceramide moisturiser. It's amazing for giving your bright, smooth, even skin and it's packed full of glycerin and moisturising oils as a buffer so it feels actually quite gentle on my skin despite its amazing resurfacing power.
The next product I have here is a candidate for a 'one-stop-shop' morning serum to use every single day. I really bang the drum for using an antioxidant (preferably Vitamin C) during the morning, and the Glow Recipe Vitamin C + Ferulic Dark Spot Serum* | £41 | combines a number of Vitamin C derivatives. This is a really great idea if you're not using the pure form of the ingredient; there's tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (an oil-soluble Vitamin C derivative), sodium ascorbyl phosphate (the antimicrobial option), magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (a hydrating Vitamin C derivative), 3-O ethylated ascorbic acid (ascorbic acid that's been tinkered with to improve its stability) and ascorbyl glucoside (one of the more well-studied derivatives which is combined with sugar). This is supported by Vitamin E and ferulic acid, plus hydrating ingredients like snow mushroom, and a tyrosinase-inhibitor in tranexamic acid. It's gentle and it has a light slightly-creamy gel texture; with everything in here, you really don't need other serums in your morning routine because this will cover off your bases.
The next product I'm talking about is criminally underrated! The Trinny London Overnight Clarity Retinal / Niacinamide Serum* | £62 | combines two ingredients that are both great for hyperpigmentation and also for acne-prone skin. I'll be reviewing this and Trinny's other retinal serum in depth soon, but I'm already impressed with how effective this creamy-yellow serum has been for smoothing and clarifying my skin. There aren't many retinal products on the market and even fewer that can knock a second serum step out of your routine by bringing two fantastic ingredients together.
Next we have the Regimen Lab Level Serum | $42. The light, fluid texture and the skin-friendly ingredients make this a great layering option to boost up a standalone Vitamin C or retinoid's skin-clarifying and discolouration-reducing potential. This gentle formula brings together 5% niacinamide, tranexamic acid and licorice extract; it's a great booster for your routine and definitely made a difference for me when I used it.
Next we have the wonderfully well-rounded Cipher Night Shift Holistic Tone-Balancing Treatment* | $132. If you have oily skin, this could be a one-step option for you because it's packed with lots of hydrating, moisturising and soothing ingredients too, such as hyaluronic acid, hemp seed oil, madecassoside and peptides. This is in addition to niacinamide, alpha arbutin and licorice extract to help even out the skin tone. What's also great about this product is that the ingredients aren't irritating, so I can personally use this every night alongside my retinoid or exfoliating acid. It's been a real game-changer and I love the choice of actives in here and how well-balanced the formula is because that ensures it's gentle on the skin.
The next product is very accessible to those of you in the US - they do ship to the UK now but my friend actually got this for me in Sephora in New York, so I can't speak on the delivery / tax experience. It's the Topicals Faded Brightening Serum | £31.48. This is a gel treatment suitable for any skin type but it'll be particularly great for oily, acne-prone skin. I really found this product transformative and I actually recently removed my belly bar after having surgery and I used this product on both the surgery scars (obviously after they'd fully healed and I'd done a round of silicone gel) and the dark scar where the belly bar had been and it's made a visible difference! So, I can definitely attest that this blend of niacinamide, tranexamic acid, kojic acid (another great tyrosinase-inhibitor I didn't have space to cover off last week), licorice extract and alpha arbutin does also work on more stubborn, darker pigmentation than the sorts of surface breakouts I get on my face.
The next product I have here is another formula containing Vitamin C so it's another one that will make a great one-step morning option, particularly for dry skin as it has a slightly creamy texture. The Dr Sam Bunting Flawless Brightly Serum | £44 | is gentle enough for daily use, it's beginner-friendly but it still works. It brings together 10% azelaic acid, 5% niacinamide and a bit of ascorbyl glucoside as your Vitamin C, plus bakuchiol. I personally love how so many great actives are crammed into such a nice, elegant, skin-friendly formula and if you have sensitive skin: this is a great place to start.
I actually really enjoy the Versed Out of Sight Dark Spot Gel* | £13.99 | used in quite a specific way. It combines tranexamic acid with kojic acid - a fungi-derived tyrosinase-inhibitor - in a gel spot treatment. I wait until a particularly-large spot has stopped being 'active' and has started to heal before applying this daily until it's faded, and I find it really helps prevent those difficult-to-shift scars. I think this is for someone who gets the occasional breakout rather than for someone who needs these ingredients all over their face every day, but it works for that purpose.
This is a great option for sensitive skin and it's the only exfoliating toner that contained enough good stuff to make it into this post. The PSA Skin Heroine Mandelic & Licorice Superfood Glow Toner | £28 | brings together 6% mandelic and lactic acids, niacinamide and licorice root in a hydrating, soothing base solution. This toner (used 3-4 times a week as the only exfoliating product in your collection) delivers glowing, smooth and more even skin to me without so much as a tingle!
Next is a new-ish launch: the Skinceuticals Phyto A+ Brightening Treatment Moisturiser* | £78. This is a light gel moisturiser that can be used after an exfoliating toner, for example. It's formulated with a gentle, everyday-friendly 3% concentration of azelaic acid, plus alpha arbutin. If you're not big into serums and don't like having too many steps in your skincare routine: an active moisturiser like this is your best friend. You could easily use this as your morning treatment so you're just using this then sunscreen and it's still a really effective option.
Rounding things off, we have the Good Molecules Discoloration Correcting Serum | $12. This is a lightweight gel serum formulated with 4% niacinamide and tranexamic acid and it comes in at a purse-friendly price. This is another option that's really unlikely to irritate the skin and can easily be used alongside your punchier actives, AM, PM or both!
Have you tried any of these products? What are your go-to formulas for treating this skin issue?