What is a melanin suppressant?

A melanin suppressant is a topical substance that interferes with the biochemical process that produces melanin in skin cells. These agents work by chemically stopping physiological reactions that are needed for melanin to be formed in the skin.

The most commonly used melanin suppressant is a drug ingredient called Hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is used in over-the-counter drug preparations in up to 2% concentration, and in prescription topical medications, Hydroquinone is used in 4-6% concentrations, and occasionally higher. Hydroquinone is available in cream, lotion, gel and serum forms. Hydroquinone is often used in conjunction with keratolytic (peeling) and exfoliating agents such as alpha hydroxyl acids or tretinoin (the active ingredient in Retin- A) or other retinoids. The exfoliating agents help with penetration of the hydroquinone, and removing surface keratinocytes (surface cells)   that are already stained with Melanin.

In prescription medications, hydroquinone may be combined with tretinoin and sometimes is combined with a steroid ingredient. This three-way combination is sometimes effective in treating stubborn melasma. Due to the rather toxic nature of Hydroquinone, it is not utilized in Sweetsation products. Other natural skin brightening alternatives are used.

Arbutin, Kojic acid, and bearberry extract, are used in “skin brightening” products. All of these agents work in a similar manner to hydroquinone. In mild cases, topical vitamin C can help lighten dark spots.

In mild cases, topical Vitamin C can help lighten dark spots. In its ester form, Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate or Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate. It is used extensively throughout Asia in many skin care products. It is most effective when used with an alpha hydroxyl acid serum and a good daily sunscreen.

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