Skin whitening has been in practice around the world, with Asia as the largest market. As much Asian female preferred more fair skin tone, skin whitening product has become and continues to be the best selling skin care products in Asia. Tyrosinase inhibition is the most common approach to achieve skin hypo-pigmentation as this enzyme catalyzes the rate-limiting step of pigmentation. There are several other mechanisms, to make many other ingredients have the skin whitening effect. In this article, R&D staff from Kangcare would like to make it clear and give a simple list.

1. Suppression of gene expression and maturation of tyrosinase and other melanogenic enzymes

  • Resveratrol
  • CoQ10


2. Inhibition of melanosomal tyrosinase activity

  • α-Arbutin
  • β-arbutin
  • Kojic acid
  • Glabridin

3. Shift the balance towards pheomelanin synthesis

  • Glutathione

4. Decrease the production of inducers of melanogenesis

  • Panax ginseng extract

Panax ginseng has been used traditionally in eastern Asia to treat various diseases, due to its immunomodulatory, neuroprotective, antioxidative, and antitumor activities. Recently, several reports have shown that extract, powder, or some constituents of ginseng could inhibit melanogenesis in vivo or in vitro. The underlying mechanisms of antimelanogenic properties in ginseng or its components include the direct inhibition of key enzymes of melanogenesis, inhibition of transcription factors or signaling pathways involved in melanogenesis, decreasing production of inducers of melanogenesis, and enhancing production of antimelanogenic factor.

1) the direct inhibition of key enzymes of melanogenesis (tyrosinase and DCT)

2) inhibition of transcription factors (MITF, NF-k B) or signaling pathways (protein kinase A pathway and protein kinase C pathway) involved in melanogenesis

3) decreasing the production of inducers of melanogenesis (cAMP, GM-CSF), and enhancing production of anti-melanogenic factor (IL-13)

5. Remove free radicals which induce lipid peroxidation and pigment formation

  • Vitamin C and its derivatives like:
    • L-Ascorbyl 2-Glucoside 
    • Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate 
    • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
    • Ethyl Ascorbic Acid
    • Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate 

VC is an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals that damage the skin, causing aging and dark skin pigmentation. It helps in the regeneration of skin cells and repairs damaged skin.

6. Filter out high-energy blue light rays as a UV absorber/filter 

  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin

The skin-lightening effect of Lutein /Zeaxanthin may be due to its property of filtering out high-energy blue light rays present in sunlight and indoor lighting, and as a UV absorber/filter, it may also enhance tyrosinase inhibition and certainly increases antioxidant capacity. Skin color is a result of the melanin types (pheomelanin and eumelanin) as well as where the melanin is concentrated in the skin. The reduction in eumelanin leads to an increase in the L* value, while the reduction in the pheomelanin leads to a decrease in the b* value. This in turn will lead to an increase in the ITA°, ie, a lightening of the overall skin tone. Because the Lutein /Zeaxanthin is taken orally, its concentration in the skin starts with the dermis then the epidermis reducing the depth of pigmentation.

If you are interested in any of the above, you can contact to get more detailed scientific data.