The global skin lightening market will reach $10 billion by 2015, according to Global Industry Analysts (GIA), and some estimates place the Asian market already at a total worth of $7 billion.
A growing ethnic population, more use among men, and greater awareness and treatment of hyperpigmentation are fueling the demand for skin lighteners. Sun exposure and hormones are the two biggest causes of hyperpigmentation in skin, yet blemishes, wounds and rashes can also lead to abnormal discoloration, especially in darker skin tones.
Fortunately, we can offset unwanted skin pigmentation by targeting two principal pathways: By inhibiting the production of skin pigment, or melanin, and by rendering melanin and its precursors colorless. To inhibit melanin production, we must target the enzyme tyrosinase, which converts the amino acid phenylalanine into the precursors of melanin. Or, we can formulate with ingredients that compete against tyrosine to block the activity of the tyrosinase enzyme.
At G.S. Cosmeceutical USA in Livermore, CA, researchers are tapping into new technologies that perform as well as mainstay lighteners like hydroquinone yet without the potential side effects. A relatively new skin brightener, Chromabright, has demonstrated significant brightening properties in in vivo clinical trials by inhibiting melanin production on par with hydroquinone and more effectively than the common skin brightening agents arbutin, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP) and kojic acid. Furthermore, unlike other depigmenting agents that can cause photo-irritation, Chromabright can help prevent UV-induced skin damage.
G.S. Cosmeceutical has also experienced favorable results with a new colorless curcumin material, which, like Chromabright, has been found in some studies to be more efficacious than hydroquinone in inhibiting melanin. Research shows that this material can inhibit 80% of melanin production and scores higher on the antioxidant ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale than grapeseed extract and green tea.
In addition, some newer whitening peptides have demonstrated tyrosinase-inhibiting action by targeting the protein component of the tyrosinase enzyme and other constituents. β-White, a biomimetic encapsulated whitening peptide, for instance, decreases proteins involved in the pigmentation process, thus inhibiting tyrosinase activity and melanin synthesis. An in vitro comparative study showed that β-White induced significant skin lightening effects on 23 Asian volunteers with at least one hyperpigmented spot after four weeks.
Other mainstay ingredients, such as kojic acid, arbutin, glutathione, azelaic acid, niacinamide, vitamin C and hexylresorcinol, continue to engage the attention of formulators for their natural approach to whitening and brightening the skin. Some ingredients, such as hexylresorcinol, have produced results comparable to hydroquinone, while others, like niacinamide and azelaic acid, can be useful in treating acne.
Skin formulations typically fare best when more than one ingredient is incorporated. For instance, we can use a tyrosinase inhibitor, a tyrosine competitor and an agent to render pigmented substances into non-pigmented forms. The addition of retinol can also boost efficacy in treating skin discolorations.
The demand for effective skin whiteners is expected to only increase. With new peptides and plant-based ingredients expanding the range of whitening options, formulators will be able to keep pace with this increasing consumer demand and continue to offer safer, more effective options.
About the Author
Gurpreet “Gogi” Sangha is the CEO and Chief Scientific Officer of G.S. Cosmeceutical USA, Inc., a Livermore, CA-based contract manufacturer of anti-aging skin care, body care, hair care, natural and organic-based products, and OTC cosmeceuticals. For more information about G.S. Cosmeceutical USA, Inc., please visit www.gscos.com or contact Andrea Sercu, marketing manager, 925-583-1426, firstname.lastname@example.org.