Fall Skincare: It's Brightening Season
Summer is rapidly becoming a distant memory, but the damage from summer sun exposure is just beginning to show—namely, dark spots and discoloration. Fortunately, shorter days and cold weather mean less UV exposure and the perfect time to do some damage repair. Retool your regimen with these top picks for fading dark spots and revealing an even tone and a luminous glow.
The main role of a cleanser in a brightening routine is to help pave the way for the rest of your regimen products to do the heavy lifting. That said, the right cleanser can help you double down on your even tone efforts. You're looking for exfoliators to kickstart the resurfacing process and antioxidants to combat photodamage. Here are two formulas with all that and more.
This gentle multi-tasking formula combines physical and chemical exfoliation to help clear pigmented cells from the skin's surface while working deeper to suppress pigment production and reduce melanin-triggering inflammation. Antioxidant properties aid in repairing sun damage, while antibacterial properties prevent breakouts to help avoid acne scars.
Green tea is packed with photoprotective polyphenols to neutralize damaging free radicals. It also helps to inhibit melanin synthesis. Blended with nourishing kiwi fruit extract, grape extract, and honey, this refreshing gel dissolves dirt, oil, and makeup without stripping the skin's natural acid mantle. Bonus: you can use it for face, body, hair, and as a shaving gel.
Like cleansers, toners are the pre-game for your serums. They clear cellular debris to enhance product absorption and optimize results. These high-performance formulas are balanced to clarify while nourishing and hydrating to keep the skin barrier healthy and resilient, plus they offer an extra brightening boost.
Like to keep things simple? These all-in-one exfoliating pads offer a glow-boosting mini-peel in every swipe. They’re excellent for all skin types and tones but especially good for tuning up acne-prone skin. The healing and hydrating cocktail of mandelic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid gets an antioxidant, ceramide-enhancing boost from niacinamide. For high impact, low effort brightening, breakout banishing, and renewal, this is your go-to.
If you have dry or sensitive skin, this ultra-gentle, ultra-reparative formula will clarify without irritating. Mandelic acid reduces pigment and protects against damage. Green tea extract, kiwi extract, and niacinamide are potent antioxidants to combat environmental stressors. Added damage defense, plus hydration comes from antioxidant rosehip oil and ceramide-boosting niacinamide.
Bringing together two brilliance-defining acids, this formula is an excellent choice if you’re also targeting rough texture, dullness, fine lines, or breakouts. Glycolic acid and lactic acid combine to clear surface pigment along with cellular debris. Both target the pigment production cycle as well to prevent new dark spots from forming. Non-sensitive types can use this toner to decongest pores, brighten, give collagen a kickstart, and leave skin velvet-soft and ready to drink in your favorite serum.
At the top of the food chain when it comes to targeting sun damage, age spots, blotchiness, hyperpigmentation, and dark marks from acne, serums take brightening seriously. These concentrated elixirs are supercharged by actives like vitamin A propionate, peptides, acids, and antioxidants that work synergistically to dramatically improve tone and texture.
For skin too sensitive for hydroquinone or glycolic acid, this gentle pigment corrector is the perfect choice. A larger molecular structure gives mandelic acid a slower absorption rate, which translates to less irritation. Mandelic acid works on the surface to lift excess pigment through micro-exfoliation. But it also acts on a deeper level to suppress melanin production and keep new pigment from forming. Antibacterial properties augment its exfoliating properties to give it superior acne-fighting cred. Mandelic acid is also safe during pregnancy and lactation, making it the top choice for treating pregnancy-related melasma.
If you're looking to reduce fine lines and wrinkles caused by sun damage in addition to brightening, this is the serum for you. Antioxidant superpower Vitamin A prevents and repairs cellular damage by neutralizing the oxidative process induced by environmental stressors. It also brightens by accelerating cell turnover, which removes surface-level pigmentation and speeds new healthy cells to the surface. As a critical player in collagen synthesis, vitamin A improves skin structure and dermal thickness giving skin a plump, lifted appearance. The first level of our vitamin A therapies, this formula eases skin into retinoid therapy but still packs a transformative punch. If your skin is already acclimated to vitamin A treatment, try Exfol-A or Exfol-A Forté.
At the higher end of the spectrum, this advanced formula targets more severe hyperpigmentation, age spots, melasma, and blotchy skin to illuminate a brighter, more luminous tone. It relies on hydroquinone, the longstanding champion of brightening, which works by inhibiting melanin synthesis and breaking down melanocytes (melanin-producing cells) to decrease pigmentation. Hydroquinone is particularly effective when combined with vitamin A, as it is here, to boost collagen and speed cell renewal.
Vitamin C is well-known for its brightening powers. It's also known to be a tricky ingredient to stabilize. Dr. Fulton cracked the stabilization code to create a powerhouse serum optimized for purity and potency. This universal glow enhancer is good for all skin types and tones and has the added benefit of being a collagen booster. Vitamins C is a potent antioxidant that interrupts the melanin production chain to reduce dark spots and prevent new pigment. It's also essential to the synthesis of collagen, making a powerful firming and lifting agent. Vitamin E supports healthy cell function and initiates repair. When paired, the strengths of each are magnified, making vitamins C and E a superstar duo for brightening and repair.