Fair factor

Do you know what is the biggest enemy of skin’s natural fairness? The answer is simple: black enzymes. Do you know that Asian skin is more prone to dark spots? Skin color is determined by the amount of pigment or melanin present. Asian skin contains a heterogeneous mix of 2 types of melanin — phaeomelanin and eumelanin — that results in pigmentation irregularities such as dark spots and increased sensitivity to sunlight.

Over the past years, aesthetics companies and medical professionals have been introducing numerous skin whitening innovations into the consumer market, ranging from high-end niche treatments to budget skin whitening solutions, all of which promise to deliver that desirable lightening result on your skin, to give you that lovely fair skin that you have always wanted.

With such an overwhelming range of skin whitening options available, how do you decide which is the real effective and will work for you? Savvy consumers will know that it is not sufficient to just choose the best skin whitening product, you have to choose the skin whitening product that works best for you.

Consumers can consider the following guidelines when they are looking for a skin whitening remedy or are already in the midst of a skin-whitening course:

Identify your problem

There are many types of facial pigmentation. The most common types are freckles, solar lentigines or age spots, melasma and Hori’s naevus. Many have a genetic basis, although

factors like sunlight, ageing and hormones also play an important role. By identifying the source of your problem, you will know how to pick out the product / treatment that is going to help you rectify it.

Have some basic knowledge about skin whitening ingredients

Every company has its own specialty skin whitening ingredients that are responsible for delivering that miracle on your skin. But how do you know that some of these virtually unknown ingredients are going to do the trick? A savvy consumer should not be going to a counter and take at face value in what the salesperson says during that 10 - 20 minutes of sales talk. Instead, talk to your dermatologist to see if this particular skin-whitening product is going to be useful in solving your problem. There is no point buying a product whose only effects are to moisturise and provide your skin with UV protection when what you actually need is a product that can lighten melasma.

Be a responsible consumer

Broadly speaking, it is possible to prevent skin pigmentation because many

types of pigmentation are aggravated by sunlight, therefore a suitable product and sufficient sun protection can delay the onset of skin pigmentation or improve the appearance.

Understand that not every product / treatment works for everyone

Topical skin lightening products are effective for melasma. However, laser therapy does not work very well for melasma. In fact, laser may sometime cause temporary darkening, which can last several months. On the other hand, laser therapy is effective for pigmentation such as freckles, solar lentigines and Hori’s naevus.

Talk to a medical professional when necessary

Besides sunlight, certain types of pigmentation — specifically melasma and Hori’s naevus — can be stimulated and worsened by hormonal factors, for example during pregnancy, taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement. In such cases, topical skin whitening products will not be able to rectify the problems effectively. — Debra