So what is Tyrosinase? It is pronounced (tai-raa-shu-neiz) Try to say that fast 10 times..
This is a copper enzyme that stimulates melanin production in the melanocyte. Most whitening agents fall under this category, as they interfere with the enzyme’s function thereby reducing pigment production in the melanocyte. Let’s go over these melanin inhibitors and see if there is some that you recognize.
Hydroquinone is probably the most common skin lightener and has been widely used for skin lightening for 50 years. It is the only FDA-approved product for skin “bleaching” on the market, and a prescription is required to obtain products with a concentration above 2%. HQ is one of the most studied bleaching agents available, and its effectiveness is solidly supported though scientific studies.
If you have very sensitive skin, this product can be irritating and it have to be used correctly. In some cases, if used incorrectly or used to long and too much, HQ can make the skin worse and cause the pigmentation to darken, particularly in very dark skin types. Long term use of high concentrations of HQ, can lead to the development of a permanent condition known as exogenous ochronosis. So please listen to your skin care specialist how to use this product in conjunction with your professional treatments.
When starting to use HQ, you will start gradually every 3rd night for 10-14 days, to build up tolerance, and then only every other night if your skin can tolerate it. If you are getting sensitive and red from the product, go back to every 3rd night. When using hydroquinone, it is imperative to stay out of the sun as much as possible for the treatment to work and wearing a full-spectrum sunblock 40+ every day is mandatory. Exposure to sun deteriorates the HQ and it will be ineffective.
Kojic Acid (KA) is a by-product from rice fermentation, discovered in Japan, were almost all good skin care comes from J. KA is the second most-common lightening or bleaching agent and it is a more natural and gentle alternative, compared to the stronger effects of the HQ. Kojic Acid penetrates the upper skin layers and inhibits the production of the epidermal melanin.
Arbutin (also known as Alpha Arbutin, Bearberry Extract or Uva Ursi Extract)
Arbutin (A) is a botanical, delivered from the bearberry plant (also known as uva ursi plant). Arbutin is a cousin to HQ, but compared to HQ, Arbutin has been shown to be much safer, yet a very effective alternative to HQ. Arbutin is also very effective for melasma.
Azelaic Acid (AZA) is a natural skin lightener found in wheat, rye and barley. AZA is most effective in concentrations of 20%. AZA in combination with a tretinoin (Retin-A) or AHA’s the results will be greater than using it by itself. Azelaic Acid is also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, so it is effective in the treatment of rosacea and acne as well as pigmentation and melasma.
Mulberry Extract, Niacinamide, Soybean Trypsin Inhibitor
Mulberry Extract is derived from the root bark of the mulberry tree. Studies have shown that it effectively reduce the tyrosinase activity at much lower concentrations than either HQ or KA.
Niacinamide is a skin-bleaching ingredient that lighten unwanted pigmentation by interfering with the transfer of melanosomes from the melanocyte to the keratinocytes.
Soybean Trypsin Inhibitor (STI) is a depigmenting agent from soybeans STI has been shown to prevent UVB-induced pigmentation.