Home skincare, known as “home care,” has become a prevailing trend. While it may not yield dramatic transformations like dermatological procedures, the regular application of functional cosmetics can lead to subtle improvements. As summer approaches, how can we effectively manage and reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and freckles?
Hyperpigmentation and freckles occur due to an excessive accumulation of dark melanin pigment. When the skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays, melanin production is triggered, and as melanin-containing cells move to the outermost layer of the skin, the affected area appears darker. Typically, hyperpigmentation manifests as dark patches on areas frequently exposed to sunlight, such as the forehead and cheeks, while freckles present as small specks on the cheeks. They can initially appear light brown but may darken over time.
Consistently applying whitening skincare products can help inhibit the formation of new hyperpigmentation and freckles. When the skin is exposed to UV radiation, an enzyme called tyrosinase oxidizes the protein called tyrosine within melanocytes, resulting in the formation of melanin. Whitening functional cosmetics contain ingredients that work by inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase, preventing oxidation of tyrosine protein, and inhibiting the transition of melanocytes into keratinocytes, thus preventing the deposition of melanin pigments on the face.
Well-known ingredients that suppress the activity of tyrosinase and prevent the movement of melanin pigments to keratinocytes include arbutin and niacinamide. Additionally, four types of vitamin C derivatives (ascorbyl glucoside, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, ethyl ascorbic acid, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate), alpha-bisabolol, extracts of the witch hazel, and licorice root have been registered as whitening agents by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
Furthermore, there are ingredients that can reduce existing clusters of melanin pigments, one of which is “retinol.” Retinol is well-known for its ability to improve skin elasticity and reduce wrinkles. Recent studies have shown that retinol not only inhibits the activity of tyrosinase but also reduces the size of melanin pigment clusters, making it an effective component in products that address pigmentation issues. However, caution should be exercised when using retinol, as it can cause inflammation and redness if it penetrates the skin cells and converts into retinoic acid. For first-time users, it is advisable to apply the product every few days, gradually reducing the intervals over time. It should be avoided on the delicate areas around the eyes and mouth, as the skin in these regions is more sensitive.
Immediate results should not be expected from whitening functional cosmetics. The skin’s epidermal layer renews itself approximately every 28 days. It typically takes about a month to notice the effects of skincare products, and for noticeable improvements, consistent use for at least six months is recommended. To achieve optimal results, it is advisable to apply the products immediately after exposure to stimuli that can promote pigmentation, such as ultraviolet rays. For localized areas with small patches of pigmentation, high-density formulations are recommended, while serums or cream formulations are more suitable for improving skin tone over larger areas.