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How to lightening your skin professionally

How To Lighten Skin Professionally

Unsightly pigmentation: don’t get angry; get even

skin lightening


If you want to know how to lighten your skin, then we have got you covered.

As we explore everything, you need to know about this complicated condition.

There are a variety of solutions to lighten skin, from brightening skincare products to peels and lasers.

But the real key to treating hyperpigmentation needs to be governed by the type of pigmentation you have, as not every treatment works on all forms of pigmentation.

Ideally, you need to have a 3-pronged approach:

  1. First, you need to exfoliate to clear any dead cells from the skin’s surface and any existing melanin build-up; this will boost circulation to get the skin’s cellular turnover cranking.
  2. The second line of attack is to reduce melanin damage by using ingredients that destroy pigment.
  3. The third is to inhibit the production of melanin in targeted areas. This is a fine line; you don’t want it to be too destructive because remember that melanin is one of your skin’s protective mechanisms – you still need as much of it as possible to help protect you from the sun.

A look at some hero ingredients

Whether your skincare product is labelled lightening, brightening, or whitening, they can all lighten the appearance of your complexion.

These terms are often used interchangeably in marketing jargon. Still, they actually serve a purpose on your skin and indicate a spectrum of intensity; defining them accurately requires looking at the ingredient lists.

Brightening ingredients: Gentle exfoliators, like alpha hydroxy acids and enzymes, are brightening. These help with conditions like dullness, flat mature skin, uneven skin tone, and general dryness – they press fast forward on the way your skin naturally exfoliates dead cells. They won’t lighten your skin past its natural tone.

Lightening ingredients: This is the role of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, niacinamide, kojic, and azelaic acids; all of these ingredients interfere with melanin production, so technically, they’re lightening. These influence pigment production at a cellular level to treat more stubborn conditions like melasma, age spots, and hyperpigmentation. Still, because they work gradually, the risk of altering your overall skin tone is minimal.

Whitener ingredients include controversial hydroquinone, topical corticosteroids, and illegal mercury, which work faster and deeper in the dermis on a cellular level, but with more unwanted side effects and risks.

It is important to remember that it can take a long time to get the desired results when working with deep-seated, prominent hyperpigmentation. Because hyperpigmentation is such a persistent condition, it requires a lot of daily care to resolve.

We recommend to many of our clients to use the Glo antioxidant complex in conjunction with glycolic peels for a period of 3 months (provided the skin is not sensitive), which can have good results with deep-seated pigmentation.

Vitamin C

This ingredient is one of the most widely-used ingredients for amping up your brightness levels. It also evens out skin tone.

It is a valuable antioxidant, helping to prevent pigmentation by strengthening your skin’s natural resistance to UV and being a tyrosinase inhibitor. You can find the more stable vitamin C ‘ethyl ascorbic acid’ in our C+ complex.

Topical Retinoids

Topical retinoids 0.05-0.1% are often used in the treatment of hyperpigmentation. Retinoids work by speeding up epidermal exfoliation; however, results don’t occur overnight and can take up to six months or more to achieve visible results.

There is also a school of thought that retinoids reduce melanin synthesis by turning off tyrosinase. We have found that those who do not respond to tyrosinase inhibitors by doubling up on your routine and adding tretinoin into the mix really boosts lightening.  I have found results do appear to be more effective.

Retinoic acid found in A+ retinoid complex is the most researched ingredient for cellular renewal and collagen replenishment, creating ageless, bright, and clear skin.


The most common hyperpigmentation ingredient is hydroquinone, a phenolic hypopigmented agent that reduces melanin production in your skin by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase.

There is, however, a lot of controversy around this ingredient, which you can read in the article, Hydroquinone: Is this Toxic Beauty at its Best?.

Laser resurfacing may be an option.

Skin resurfacing, whether with a laser or a chemical agent, may significantly reduce pigmented lesions.

How does it work?
These lasers remove pigmentation and freckles through the light in the green-yellow range, which actively absorbs the pigment in freckles or age spots without harming surrounding tissue.

What should I expect?
Light freckles and pigmentation can often disappear during treatment – or in some cases, results may become more obvious after around 10-14 days.

Those with large pigment areas will find a few sessions that will help reduce the marks significantly.

How many treatments are required?
The number of treatments you require may vary, depending upon the number of freckles or pigment you have on your skin. It is common to see visible results after two to three treatments.

Is the treatment painful?
You may feel a slight stinging, piercing sensation during your pigmentation removal. Redness will also be apparent but usually settles down after a couple of hours.

Cryotherapy, what’s that then?
This treatment is useful for treating small, localized, hyperpigmented lesions such as age spots. It freezes the lesion and, in some cases, can be as effective as laser treatment.

Latest research

Lancome has been focusing on how to lighten skin for many years. Their research has found that skin complexities change in terms of both shade and evenness; they discovered that melanocytes are not the only trigger; there is also the surrounding environment of those melanin-producing cells.

It appears that UV damage, hormonal changes, and inflammation not only stimulates the melanocytes to create more melanin it also damages the surrounding environment – including fibroblasts, which are responsible for our skin’s structure. This leads to hyperpigmentation.  In this case, damage not only occurs in the basal layer of our epidermis, where melanocytes appear, but it seems that changes also occur in the dermis.

Decoding these processes, and demonstrating the major role that the dermis has in skin pigmentation, is really important – to the point where it actually revolutionizes pigment disorder treatments. An important scientific breakthrough that means pigmentation is also altered and controlled by fibroblasts in the dermal cells.


The real key to knowing how to lighten skin or removed pigmentation is to use a combination of products and treatments and find out what works best for your skin type.

To recap, superficial pigmentation is classed as sun-damaged skin, such as freckles and spots, and hormonal pigmentation sits deep within the skin’s skin’s dermal layers and is particularly stubborn.

Any damage to the skin in the form of scarring or picking breakouts can cause trauma to the epidermis, your outer layer of skin.
When this happens, the skin’s defence mechanism kicks in, bringing melanin to the site of the injury. So, apart from the obvious transfer of bacteria when picking your skin, it can also create pigmented marks.

A school of thought that peels and lasers can do more harm than good, causing inflammation in the skin. This is a theory we are learning much more towards, especially as inflammation is the number one cause of premature ageing.

However, we feel that it is up to the individual to try out different pigment removal methods until they get the results they are looking for.

If you are keen to learn more about pigmentary changes associated with ageing, this article is a real great read.

13 thoughts on “How to lightening your skin professionally

  1. Monique Au-Yeung says:

    If I already have the signs of impaired barrier function which I read from your other articles, what type of treatment will be more appropriate? Will the laser treatments you mentioned further impaired my skin’s barrier function and makes it even more sensitive?

    • Samantha Miller says:

      Hi Monique. Anything intensive will impair the barrier such as laser treatments, micro, peels etc. Honestly it’s tempting to try lots of things in a bid to heal the skin, but please think less is best look for skin identical replenishing ingredients like ceramides, lipids, cholesterol, omegas, vitamins rather than extracts and fragrance which are irritating…think what you have internally should be topically also as your skin is the last organ to receive nourishment all the organs steal it first. And please be sun safe at all times as this is one of the biggest problems environmental damage is a big problem with impaired skin..hope this helps Samantha

  2. Ruby says:

    Hi there,
    I wondered if you know the cause of dark birthmark like marks appearing on my face. I seem to get a new one every two years or so. I now have about 7 and and i started with zero. I’m african american but my skin tone is much lighter than the black marks.

    • Samantha Miller says:

      Hi Ruby this is probably melasma,

      This is a condition where patches of skin become darker than the surrounding areas which is typically found on the face. Pigmented skin cells called melanocytes are much higher in the darker areas of the skin, but quite why there are an increased number of melanocytes in certain areas of the skin and not others remains a mystery to this day.

      Interestingly melasma occurs more often in women than in men, and it also appears more often in women who have darker skin types.

      Thyroid problems, hormones and sun exposure is a strong risk factor for melasma and some cosmetics and medications can make you sun sensitive and can increase your risk of developing melasma.

      Melasma is often associated with hormonal changes. Dark patches often develop during pregnancy, or if a woman is taking hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives.

      If your melasma is hormone-based then you will need to see a doctor, hopefully as your hormones stabilise the dark patches will recede unless you are pregnant? Oral contraceptives or HRT can help the patches fade or disappear once hormones are balanced.

      My advise is please do everything you can to stay out the sun also..I hope this helps with your condition Samantha

  3. Anonymous says:

    Laser treatment is something I have been considering for a while, so it’s really good to know what to expect, you cover all the bases here. Now i can plan my pigmentation treatment with clarity..what a great resource!

  4. jenny says:

    Samantha just wanted to say appreciate you putting this article together it has helped me so much on my quest in getting rid of my pigmentation on my face…I really can’t thankyou enough

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