Best Skin Lighteners for Fading Discolorations

I’m slowly starting to figure out that the all-natural stuff just doesn’t make my skin look as good as it does when I throw something more advanced its way. I’d love nothing more than to use straight nuts and berries on my face, but unfortunately it’s not helping to fade out some old scarring and redness I have going on. Believe me, I’ve tried.

In the cluttered skincare landscape filled with claims and promises, I can say that skin lighteners typically live up to their hype and are worth a try. There are so many ways to fade out age sun spots (sounds nicer), scars, discolorations and add more clarity and tons of radiance, it’s just a matter of finding something that works for your skin (and budget). I’ve put together a list of skin lighteners I’ve tried and ones I hear work great- look into them to see which might be best for the changes you’d like to make in your skin.

Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation $45:

I’ve read so much about this line and heard stories from people who are crazy devoted so I bought Sheer Transformation to see if I can kick out the last of my scarring and redness. It’s especially effective when used over Invigorating Night Gel but I use it over Obagi Exfoderm Forte that also has Glycolic and Lactic acids for cell turnover and brightening so it’s along the same lines. It’s a weightless gel/cream that absorbs quickly and gives your skin a dose of vitamins, fruit acids, and licorice for non-chemical fading and brightening. I love the way it feels so far, can’t wait to see the results.


Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum $60:

Murad’s serum uses known skin lightener Hydroquinone (2.0%) for a quicker approach to fading out those age spots within weeks. Most people in their trials saw a difference in their spots in just two weeks in fact. If you’re looking for something to work quickly and effectively, this is a serum to check out. There’s still some back and forth about the safety of Hydroquinone (typically when it’s used in a much higher concentration), but it’s still regarded by many as the gold standard for skin lightening.


Estée Lauder Idealist $85:

Idealist has been the most effective in fading out the freckles on my chest that I’ve had since forever. It uses a more gentle approach so the results aren’t instant but if you hang with it you’ll definitely see even, more radiant skin in about a month with better and better looking skin over time. $85 is an investment, but so are the laser treatments I was looking into. I’m glad I found something much less invasive for a lot less money.

Iman Time Control Skin Tone Evener $16:

This treatment is the least expensive of the bunch and hydroquinone free. It’s meant for all skin tones, but it’s especially effective for fading spots on darker skin tones which can be harder to lighten.

Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution $50:

Clearly Corrective is a new lightening serum free of silicones, fragrance, and parabens using vitamin c and white birch to get skin glowing. You should see some changes in just a few weeks with full results after 8, and continued use will help keep future spotting away.

Spots and uneven tone are easy problems to fix, so start with a skin evening treatment before thinking about Botox or more invasive things. You might find that your skin looks so great, you don’t need to do anything else.

PCA Skin Clearskin

I love PCA Skin and their effective professional grade line of affordable skin treatments, so when Dermstore.com reached out offering a voucher good on any product on their site in exchange for an honest review of what I chose, I had to get something I hadn’t tried from PCA. My skin is temperamental with breakouts that come and go, so I explored their moisturizers to see if they had something for my crazy skin. I ended up choosing Clearskin mostly because of its almost 200 glowing reviews from really happy customers who claim it changed their skin and now they’re totally loyal.

It’s not designed to be an acne treatment, though its antibacterial properties make it perfect for that sort of thing – it clarifies and heals using vitamins and natural acids in a base of aloe to improve the look of all types of skin. It has a texture that could be pump-dispensed so don’t let the jar fool you, it isn’t heavy. More of a gel-cream really. Dry skin might need to add moisture on top, other skins will find it hydrating enough.  I loved how soft my skin felt and how it alive and clear it looked after a few week’s use. It’s also great for redness, fading old acne scars, and balancing oil over time – which I’m excited to see happen over the next few months.

I would buy Clearskin – especially with the $32 price tag, well within reason for a good moisturizer and skin treatment rolled into one.

Check out PCA Clearskin at dermstore.com

Cheers to Your Skin With (Practically) Drinkable Skincare

Wine Hydrating Mask from Arcona’s natural line of almost edible formulations isn’t the typical hardened clay mask that you have to scrub like crazy to wash off. It’s a creamy treatment that plumps the skin using hydrating Hyaluronic Acid, Shea Butter, and the super antioxidant Resveratrol – the extract from red grape skin to brighten and soothe. I’ve been using it to chase away my skin’s winter tightness caused by cold air that I can’t seem to shake no matter how much I moisturize.

Pomegranate is the star antioxidant of Weleda’s Firming Eye Cream, a gentle way to smooth out wrinkles on even the most sensitive skin. In my kit, I’d combine it with a concealer to create a custom tinted moisturizer of sorts for dark circles. Its natural ingredients soak into the skin better than most so it’s versatile to use with mix-ins or of course on its own.

For $16 Made From Earth has one of the best deals you’ll find on its USDA certified organic Green Tea Toxin Cleanser, a typically pricey category of skincare. With Organic Green Tea Extract being its second ingredient (and Organic Aloe being its first), you can leave this creamy cleanser on for a few minutes before massaging it into the skin for a mini-mask to brighten and soothe as well as clean. Typically I prefer a foaming cleanser to a creamy one, but a thick formula like this one holds up well and makes a great partner to a Clarisonic.

Side by Side: Vapour Beauty vs Stila Concealer

Are all stick concealers created equally? Not really, especially not when one is using organic ingredients to produce something nearly identical (and maybe even better) than what we’ve used for years. I wanted to do a side by side with Vapour Organic Beauty’s award winning Illusionist Concealer with Stila’s Cover Up Stick – one that’s been around for years. Vapour has been slowly developing a cult following with Makeup Artists who are looking to green up their kits and among Beauty Editors who are handing out awards to the line like crazy.

Buying makeup online can be a little intimidating since you obviously don’t get to try anything on first. They do have a sampling program that I bitched about HERE and although the samples were over packaged and under-scooped, I ultimately liked the formulas themselves. That, along with a 30 day return policy makes me feel good about taking a chance on a line I’ve never used. I’ll be reviewing a few things from the line in the coming weeks, but first let’s see how two stick concealers stack up against one another in a side by side challenge.


Stila Cover Up Stick in shade B, Vapour Organic Beauty Illusionist Concealer in 020, both their second lightest in shade range offerings.


Side by side- same look, packaging, and size.

Stila:

Tone: Yellow.

Feel: Not luminous and a little drying – if you have dry skin, it might drag a little.

Cosmetics Database Safety Rating: 3

Wear Time: It stays put pretty well – doesn’t change color or slide.

First 3 Ingredients: Castor Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (a form of coconut oil), Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate (skin conditioning agent.)

Would I Buy it Again?: Maybe, for my kit but the formula is too heavy for what I personally wear.

Summary: While I don’t mind Stila’s concealer (and have bought it in the past) there’s nothing overly special about the formula which can be a little heavy, yellow, and hard to blend.


Color and consistency, Stila on the left – a little heavier and more yellow than Vapour.

Vapour Beauty:

Tone: Yellow undertones but not too yellow, so it blends nicely into the skin.

Feel: Creamy and easy to blend with a touch of luminosity.

Cosmetics Database Safety Rating: 2

Wear Time: Same as Stila and most concealers. It doesn’t budge.

First 3 Ingredients: Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Beeswax, Castor Seed Oil.

Would I Buy It Again?: Yes, and will be getting a few more shades for my kit. I have a lot of clients who are undergoing chemo or have really sensitive skin so this will be especially nice to have on hand for them.

Summary: Illusionist is a great, creamy, concealer that gives all the coverage you need. The fact that it’s an organic formula just makes it all the more fantastic.

If you’re looking to lighten up on the amount of chemicals you’re using on your skin everyday check out Vapour Beauty, one of the few lines actually interested in both makeup quality and safe ingredients.

Arcona Triad All-In-One Cleansing Pads

If you’re into those all-in-one cleansing cloths you get at the drugstore, Arcona has a luxe version that works just as well but is much better for your skin. Triad Pads are pre-soaked with their best selling Cranberry Toner for ease of use when you want to remove makeup, cleanse, tone, and refresh skin all in one quick swipe. Everything made by Arcona is done is small batches using pure, chemical-free ingredients like the toner – rich with natural AHAs, Vitamin E, Cranberry Extract, and Omegas so it soothes instead of strips. You’ll find that your skin is so hydrated and balanced after you use them that you won’t go back to the chemical-laden cloths again. Great especially for travel or gym bags.

$30 for 45 pads- check em out on Arcona.com, Dermstore.com, or Skinstore.com

Priori Cellular Recovery Serum

Cellular Recovery Serum. You really can’t tell by the name what this wonder serum does, but it kind of just does it all. It’s Priori’s booster treatment, meaning it fits in with whatever your current skincare routine happens to be. Just a few pumps will, as they say, ‘mimic DNA repair enzymes to help reverse damage done to the skin by free radicals.’

Whew. That’s a lot of science going on

Instead of trying to give you a science lesson for which I am totally under-qualified, I divvied up the serum 3 ways and gave it out to a friend and 2 clients to get their take on what it did for their skin over a period of weeks. What I heard was all positive, with one purported miracle. One client in her 50′s said that within weeks her skin looked more radiant and she used less makeup as a result. She said it gave her hope that using good skincare could make enough of an impact so she could stop using Botox. Another in her late 30′s said that her skin was much smoother and she had fewer dry patches that typically appear this time of year. But a friend in her 50′s said the stuff was a downright miracle and she could definitely see fewer wrinkles and sun spots. She loves it and says she’ll continue to use it and even explore the rest of the line.

So there you have it. Smoother, radiant, less wrinkled skin. Sounds like good stuff, too bad I gave it all away..

You can find more info on the serum HERE and search for a retailer (typically a doctor) in your area HERE.