Hoping to lighten up scarring, freckles or dark spots on your skin? You may have heard that hydroquinone (a brightening agent) is strong enough to get the job done. And while it’s true that it’s a powerful and effective skincare ingredient, some dermatologists are concerned about its side effects and long-term effects from use.


Licorice root contains two ingredients that help with pigmentation: glabridin and liquiritin. Glabridin helps to retrain tyrosinase, an enzyme that produces melanin which leads to pigmentation. Liquiritin helps to break up and remove melanin and pigmentation in the skin.

Kojic acid is derived from mushroom-like fungi during fermentation, and is the second most common natural lightening agent. It prohibits the production of melanin and penetrates the upper layers of the skin causing a lightening effect.

Arbuti Bearberry Extract is a natural form of hydroquinone derived from the bearberry plant.

Mulberry extract is a natural but powerful brightening agent derived from the mulberry plant. Mulberry plants have several compounds that have been extracted from both roots and stems, with known ability to block tyrosinase, the enzyme involved in the production of a skin pigment called melanin.

Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, can be used to fade age spots and lighten discoloration of the skin. It’s effective with hyperpigmentation because it decreases the number of melanin transferred to pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) to skin cells by more than half.

Vitamin C is another popular brightening alternative found in many brightening serums. Vitamin C is an amazing antioxidant that is beneficial for patients with hyperpigmentation. It works by brightening hyperpigmented spots on the skin, but not lightening normal skin.

Willow bark extract is a beta hydroxy acid that helps to exfoliate the skin and encourage cell turnover. White Willow Bark extract is composed of salicin, the natural form of salicylic acid. Salicylic acid helps to shed dead skin cells from your skin to allow new and healthy skin cells to regenerate.

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