The Active Edit

Best Brightening Skincare Ingredients for Glowing Skin

written by: Kristen - Beauty Editorpublished on 26 Oct, 2023

How Do I Achieve Glowing Skin?

Is it your makeup doing its thing? Or is your skin’s natural luminosity actually shining through? I'm here to give you the 5 best brightening skincare ingredients for naturally glowing skin. That's right. A radiant complexion, without the makeup. First, there's someone I want to introduce you to...

Meet Melanin. She's a skin pigment, responsible for producing the colour tone in your skin. The less melanin, the lighter your skin tone. The more melanin, the darker your skin tone. Now, the rate at which melanin is produced is controlled by special skin cells, called Melanocytes. Although dependent on your genetics, a Melanocyte is also triggered by the sun’s UV rays, hormonal fluctuations and inflammation such as acne, surgical wounds, skin trauma or even intense skin treatments like laser. This pigmentation is referred to as post-inflammatory pigmentation and it’s essentially your skin’s protection mechanism kicking in. Therefore, a build-up of melanin in some areas of your skin causes hyperpigmentation and skin discolouration. Put simply, brightening ingredients in skincare work to fight hyperpigmentation, age spots, melasma, chloasma and remove dead skin cells for a brighter skin appearance. Often these active ingredients are within cosmeceutical skincare, but not always, as some super powered botanicals such as licorice extract naturally help diminish unwanted hyperpigmentation. Why not give makeup something to be jealous about? Let's glow up!

1. Vitamin C

I bet you've heard of this one. Vitamin C is the secret ingredient to glowing and bright skin. Suitable for all skin types, the antioxidant creates clarity and evenness to the skin tone. As an antioxidant, it helps shield the skin from free-radical damage and encourages the skin to repair itself from visible damage and reduce inflammation. As well as stimulating collagen production, this key ingredient is also mildly exfoliating, making it an excellent choice for eliminating dark spots. (In short, Vitamin C is everybody's best friend for glowing skin).

Incorporate Vitamin C into your skincare routine, with ASAP Super C Complex. This brand has been a beauty industry fave for a while now (and for good reason), delivering a glow-worthy formula for your skin. Loaded with 20% L-Ascrobic Acid AKA Vitamin C as well as Pine Bark extract and CoEnzyme Q10, this daily serum promotes collagen production and an evenly toned complexion.

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2. Azelaic Acid

As fancy as this one sounds, its purpose is simple and effective. Brighten skin and reduce blemishes by actively helping skin renew itself efficiently. This is your weapon to fight hyperpigmentation and blotchy skin caused by melanin, who we met earlier.

Restore your skin’s radiance with Hydropeptide Clarifying Toner. Containing Azelaic Acid, these powerful face pads target congested, acne-prone skin types to banish blemishes and combat unwanted pigmentation. Bring back an evenness to your skin and even out discolourations, one toning pad at a time.

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3. Niacinamide

This one's a mouthful. Say it with me, N-i-a-c-i-n-a-m-i-d-e. You're going to want to remember this one. This anti-inflammatory ingredient boosts the skin’s immunity by minimising the severity of blemishes. The essential Vitamin B nutrients help to build Keratin, a skin-firming protein. By also increasing the production of collagen, this mouthful of an ingredient also treats hyperpigmentation nicely whilst soothing the skin. What an all-rounder!

Give it a go, using Alpha-H Vitamin B Serum with 5% Niacinamide. This one’s for your skin’s immunity, strengthening the skin’s barrier and restoring elasticity. Containing 5% Niacinamide & Vitamin B, the serum inhibits our friend, melanin, from reaching the surface of the skin, in turn suppressing the formation of age spots. I warned you. This one's not to miss.

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4. Glycolic Acid

Remove melanin pigmentation fast and speed up the turn over of skin cells, with Glycolic Acid & AHA. Derived from sugarcane, this chemical exfoliant is able to penetrate the dead skin cell layer to dissolve the intercellular glue that keeps those dull and devitalised dead skin cells on your complexion. Elevating the cell turnover rate, Glycolic Acid creates brighter and glowing skin, by wiping away blemishes as it encourages new skin cells to appear.

Let's give our skin a good anti-ageing boost, with the SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight. The exfoliating night time treatment is your go-to glycolic product, resurfacing and revitalising your skin for enhanced radiance. Supercharge your skin and kiss some of that hyperpigmentation goodbye for a glowing complexion.

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5. Retinol

Retinol, it’s the dark spot fader. Retinol & Vitamin A works hard to prevent signs of premature ageing by minimising visible dark spots. Derivatives of Vitamin A can have the same effect on the skin including Retinol, Retinal and Retinyl Palmitate. An effective retinol product boosts collagen production and replaces worn-out skin cells, encouraging skin cell turnover for enhanced skin luminosity plus an even texture. From low-strength to high-strength products, the retinol scale of intensity caters for all skin types.

Retinol beginners should look for products containing 0.01% to 0.03% of the ingredient. The Medik8 Crystal Retinal 3 is the perfect pick as this formula contains 0.03% stabilised Retinal enhanced with Viatmin E and Hyaluronic Acid to nourish. This serum improves skin clarity and it promotes that youthful glow we're all after! No matter where you are on your retinol journey, be sure to apply every other night, slowly increasing frequency as tolerated and wear a high SPF sunscreen during the day. It's also advisable to avoid all types of retinol if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or on acne medication.

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There you have it. The recipe for glowing skin. Incorporating these brightening ingredients into your skincare routine ensures a natural glow to your skin, even makeup will be jealous of.