Vitamin C has long been the brightening king of the beauty aisle. In addition to protecting the skin from environmental aggressors, the antioxidant is famous for its ability to treat dark spots and discoloration and has earned a rightful place in nearly everyone morning skin routine. But when it comes to treating more serious skin tone issues, there’s another ingredient that just might take vitamin C away from its hyperpigmentation-fighting throne.
Tranexamic acid has recently become more and more common in skin care products thanks to its scientifically proven benefits. His most important claim to fame? It can treat all kinds of hyperpigmentation, including acne scars, photoaging, and notoriously hard-to-treat issues. melasma.
“Tranexamic acid is a great ingredient for fighting pigmentation,” says Dennis Gross, MD. “It works by preventing skin cells and melanocytes, i.e. the cells that produce pigment, from communicating with each other, resulting in a reduction in pigmentation. It helps with everything from sun spots to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and there’s even anecdotal evidence suggesting it helps with melasma.Beyond pigmentation, it strengthens the skin moisture barrier– keep hydration in and external irritants out.
In addition to controlling uneven melanin production, the acid “will help calm the skin, reduce inflammation, and promote the health of the skin’s natural barrier,” says Manish Shah, MDa board-certified plastic surgeon in Englewood, Colorado.
While tranexamic acid has been shown to be effective on its own, a board-certified dermatologist Nava Greenfield, MD note that it can be mixed with other lightening agents like kojic acid, ferulic acid, or vitamins C and E. Since acids can usually dry out, be sure to make it easy to introduce the tranexamic acid in your routine and avoid mixing it with other intense actives such as glycolic or retinol. You can find it in a serum, moisturizer, toner – really any type of skincare product. Ready to add tranexamic acid to your own diet? Scroll through some options to help you get started.
Shop 11 Different Ways to Use Tranexamic Acid for Skin
Droplet, Tranexamic Eraser Set — $336.00
Send pure tranexamic acid into your pores with Droplette, a skincare device that releases skincare ingredients through a powerful micro-mist to deeply penetrate your skin. Get this kit which includes the device and 30 TXA capsules or simply get the capsules ($138) if you already have the device. I love using it during the summer to protect against hyperpigmentation – just avoid inhaling it too close to your mouth/nose, or you’ll be coughing up a cloud of TXA.
Farmacy, Brighten Up 3% TXA Dark Spot Toner – $34.00
This toner mixes tranexamic acid with azelaic acidtwo ingredients Emilie Trampetti, a beautician in Chicago, loves adjusting dark spots. “Azelaic acid and tranexamic acid are wonderful skin lighteners,” she says. “They are great, great, great for people prone to hyperpigmentation. Especially in the summer months when you really want to prevent melanogenesis – that process in the skin that creates pigment and sun damage – from happening.
Element Eight, O2 Peptide Face Cream — $250.00
This luxurious cream floods the skin with tranexamic acid, peptides, vitamin C ester and camelia oleifera alongside a super dose of oxygen. It uses oxygen (a gas!) bound to a proprietary liquid that the brand’s CTO first developed to speed healing in spine surgery. It mimics hemoglobin in that it gives oxygen something to hold onto, giving skin 20 times more oxygen than it can get from air alone.
The Inkey List, Tranexamic Acid Hyperpigmentation Treatment – $16.00
Specifically designed for hyperpigmentation concerns, Inkey List’s Brightening Concoction uses Tranexamic Acid, Vitamin C and Acai Berry Extract to brighten skin and improve tone. At just $15 a bottle, it’s a great way to try the ingredient for the first time without breaking the bank.
Murad, regenerating multi-acid peel — $79.00
Think of this stuff like a chemical peel in a bottle. It contains alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic, lactic, and malic to exfoliate, beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid to unclog pores, and tranexamic acid to even skin tone, and this is only the first phase. Once the acids have finished working their magic, antioxidant-rich plant-based holy basil extract steps in to strengthen and defend your skin’s surface.
SkinMedica, Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum — $160.00
Fight discoloration and soothe skin at the same time with this active-rich serum. Along with Tranexamic Acid, it contains Peptides and Niacinamide to brighten and strengthen the skin barrier while fending off future pigmentation issues. Acne scars don’t stand a chance.
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