Cutting edge whitening ingredients

Cutting edge whitening ingredients


Finished product manufacturers innovating in the mature but lucrative Asian whitening market are being supported by a wave of new whitening ingredients, many with novel modes of action and/or targeting recently discovered pathways.

One material that has received a lot of attention in recent months is Brightenyl by Induchem, which scooped the Innovation Zone ‘gold’ active ingredient award at in-cosmetics’ Europe edition this year. Described as a ‘colour correction’ ingredient as well as a ‘skin brightening’ one Brightenyl has a never-before-seen process of action, as it works in conjunction with microflora on the skin. THBA [tri hydroxy benzoic acid] – a powerful antioxidant – is good for skin whitening but very unstable and insoluble. To get around this, Induchem grafted on a glucose branch, making it far easier to use in formulations. Once on the skin, however, different species of microflora (identified by Induchem) cleave this glucose branch, reverting the material back to THBA. It is claimed to work on seven different pathways including the inhibition of UV-induced ROS production; UV-induced DNA damage; the expression of MITF, which stops the melanogenesis process; and the expression of PEG2, which is related to vasodiallation and redness. It also controls the Nf-kB pathway to reduce inflammation and saturates the galactose receptors – important in the transfer of melanin from the melanocyte to the keratinocyte. Brightenyl’s attraction lies in the combination of multi-level efficacy with an original marketing story – one that is sure to capture consumers’ imaginations in science-focused markets like Japan and South Korea.

Another recent option is brighlette from Lipotec. Most Asian consumers don’t merely want lighter skin, they want a more even skin tone – so they require products developed to zone in specifically on problem areas. Brighlette is proven to reduce both the size and colour of dark spots. In vivo, a 2% brighlette cream applied twice daily for eight weeks resulted in a 61.1% reduction in melanin content of dark spots; shrinking of hyperpigmented areas by 6.9%; and 12.7% reduced contrast between dark spots and unaffected skin, for a more uniform complexion.

Its approach is also multi-level. An extract from a marine micro-organism from the island of Tenerife, brighlette acts on various stages of melanin production and deposition in the skin.  The key transcription factor in melanin synthesis is MITF, which activates all the pathways downstream. Other signalling pathways, including endothelin-1 and wnt-1 pathways activate MITF, and brighlette is claimed to down-regulate the expression of these two receptors on the melanocyte surface, decreasing MITF activation.

At the far end of the process, it inhibits the transfer of melanosomes filled with melanin from the ‘arms’ of the melanocyte to keratinocytes. In addition, it reduces melan-A – one of two key proteins involved in melanosome maturation. The majority of existing whitening ingredients only target the other key protein, pmel-17.

Indeed, we can expect to see more ingredients targeting melan-A. DSM, for example, conducted research ex vivo into the activity of its existing anti-ageing ingredient Regu-Scence (from white asparagus) which found it to both inhibit the expression of melan-A – to slow down the creation of melanosome bags – and inhibit tyrosinase.

Other recently launched products targeting age spots include Gattefossé’s Gatuline Spot-Light. A derivative of Sophora flavescens and kiwi fruit (extracted using a targeted technique to optimise the concentration of two key molecules sophoraflavanone G and matrine), it targets the causes of age spots on both epidermal and dermal levels, with efficacy confirmed by a clinical test in which 90% of panelists confirmed decreased visibility of age spots. In the epidermis it presents a strong inhibition of the tyrosinase enzyme (more so than kojic acid) and to reduce transfer of melanin to keratinocytes. It also accelerates the skin’s natural desquamation process, meaning the accumulation of melanin in the upper skin layer is eliminated.

An interesting option from BASF, meanwhile, is targeted at value skin lightening products; this is ideal for brands targeting entry-level consumers in mature markets and consumers in developing market regions – including certain Asian and African countries (Africa presenting a great expansion market for lightening product manufacturers looking to grow abroad). The ingredient, called Dermawhite WF, has a brightening effect three times greater than that of kojic acid, according to BASF.

These and other innovative ingredients will be showcased during November’s in-cosmetics Asia event, which will include a Skin Whitening Trail, selected by SPC magazine Editor Julia Wray. Julia is also speaking at the The skin-whitening market as it goes global Marketing Trends Presentation at in-cosmetics Asia on 3rd November 2015, 16:00-16:45, Marketing Trends Theatre

For more information on the latest skin whitening and colour corrective actives, plus other ingredients news, go to

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