MELANIE MORRIS finds out just why even the palest of Irish complexions can benefit from the new genre of skin whitening products.
The ultimate anti-oxidant, vitamin C delivers great brightness to the complexion. It's important to use a form of vitamin C that's light-stable (many forms degrade quickly, and can't be preserved) and in sufficiently therapeutic quantities.
The smallest of the alpha hydroxy acid family, this works by sloughing away dead cells that accumulate at the top of the skin, prohibiting light from entering, and bouncing against the surface, thus causing a dull, lifeless complexion. Once applied, glycolic acid reacts with the upper layer of the epidermis, weakening the binding properties of the fats that hold the dead skin cells together. This allows the top layer to be naturally exfoliated, exposing live skin cells.
ALPHA HYDROXY ACID (AHAs)
A stronger form of skin-clearing exfoliant, which can also even out discolouration and fade hyperpigmentation, AHAs are a group of organic compounds that can be derived from fruit, milk, sugar cane (glycolic acid) and grape wine. AHAs comprise of small molecules that can penetrate through the skin's top layer to tackle melanocytes, which cause discolouration of the skin, and to build a clearer, more youthful, glowing skin surface, through which light can bounce and reflect. Lightening and brightening products should usually only be used at night time, away from sunlight; and by day it's vital to use a good SPF product to protect the fragile new skin that's been unveiled. Remember, the reason skin has damaged, become dull and discoloured in the first place is due to UV exposure, free radical damage, pollution and airborne environmental irritants.
The great news about trying, and using, skin whitening products is that improvements happen quickly. A high-potency vitamin C sheet mask will have you glowing after a matter of minutes, while AHA products will bring overnight results, making ?complexions feel smoother and look more even-toned. Fading dark spots may take longer, but regular use of product for four weeks should lead to clear improvements.