Applying a serum for skin brightening is one of the most effective ways to fade dark spots, even out skin tone, and light up your complexion. While serums generally target specific skin concerns, they also have other effects that your skin can benefit from!
However, picking one that would best suit your skin is not an easy task to accomplish. In this article, we will give you a list of ten of the best skin brightening serums on the market, as well as a detailed buying guide, with insights and tips from board-certified dermatologist Dr. Katrina Habaluyas Luz, to walk you through choosing the right one.
Dr. Katrina Habaluyas Luz is the face behind Ask Your Derma. She is a board-certified dermatologist in Metro Manila. She is also an educator and digital creator on all things skin, hair, and nails. She is a Diplomate of the Philippine Dermatological Society and offers online video consultations. You can also catch her on her Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube channel.
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Here are some key points to consider:
For more detailed information, read through our buying guide below.
Although the "one size fits all" approach to skincare may be effective for some individuals, it is best to select a brightening serum that is tailored to your skin type, especially if you do not have normal skin. This will not only help your skin look more radiant but also address issues particular to your skin type.
Serums without harsh formula are recommended if you are prone to rashes and skin irritation. This indicates that they are devoid of any components that usually cause allergic reactions or other adverse effects. Examples of ingredients to avoid are artificial fragrances, parabens, preservatives, and essential oils.
When it comes to predicting a reaction or irritation, there's no 100% foolproof way! Your best bet is still doing a patch test and observing over the next 48 to 72 hours if the coast is clear for you to add that product into your routine.
If left unsolved, excess oil or sebum on your skin can be problematic. Oily skin can also lead to acne breakouts along with a greasy feeling. Thus, consider looking for a lightweight formula serum that will not strip your skin’s vital moisture.
Moreover, if you’re looking for serums that contain vitamin C, it’s best to go for those that use the L-ascorbic acid form rather than the oil-soluble ascorbyl palmitate. This is because L-ascorbic acid is not only lightweight but also water-soluble.
One of the challenges for those with oily skin is to choose products that don't aggravate the oiliness of their skin and also don't consequently clog their pores. In general, lightweight, water-based formulations are a good fit.
Your skin may be dry and in need of sufficient moisture and hydration if it is tight, itchy, and scales frequently. To counter this, it is advised that you select serums with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides.
In addition to providing the skin with the ideal quantity of moisture, hyaluronic acid also prevents fine lines and wrinkles. On the other hand, glycerin draws moisture to the skin while enabling it to absorb and retain water. Meanwhile, ceramides hydrate and safeguard the skin's protective layer.
How to incorporate that hydrating serum? You can opt to apply it on damp skin, mix it in with other actives, or even use it before the moisturizer. Take your pick and do what works for you!
Whether you want your dark spots to disappear or treat skin pigmentation, there are specific ingredients that are just right for these concerns. Below are some of the skin brightening ingredients you should look for in your serum.
Your skin might acquire dark spots for a variety of reasons, including acne scarring, UV damage, and hormone problems. Fortunately, you can pick serums with niacinamide or arbutin to reduce their appearance.
Vitamin B3, also known as niacinamide, offers many advantages for the skin. This includes brightening the skin tone, hydrating it, and fading dark spots. On the other hand, arbutin alleviates acne scars by removing unwanted pigments that darken the skin.
Fun fact! Arbutin is a naturally occurring compound derived from plants such as bearberry. It has been shown to fade hyperpigmentation. Warning, though! It is a derivative of hydroquinone, hence, it can cause rebound hyperpigmentation if used improperly. Thus, use it with guidance from your dermatologist.
Niacinamide, on the other hand, is the "jack of all trades." Aside from targeting dark spots, it strengthens the skin barrier and acts as an antioxidant too.
Ingredients like red algae extracts, glutathione, and vitamin C will assist you in achieving brighter skin as they prevent the pigment cells in your skin from producing melanin. This will make your skin appear lighter and less likely to have dark spots.
Vitamin C is known as a skincare superstar because it has numerous advantages. This includes enhancing skin texture, providing hydration, and defense against free radicals and sun damage. On the other hand, glutathione is known for promoting skin elasticity, while red algae extract helps clarify and cleanse the skin.
Vitamin C is a great ingredient for brightening. But mind you, it comes in many different forms. L-ascorbic acid is a good choice in terms of its antioxidant and brightening effects. However, it can be irritating to some. A less irritating alternative is tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate.
In addition to skin brightening, you might also want to address other skin issues that you might be experiencing. If so, you should look for brightening serums that also have extra advantages for the skin, like relaxing, nourishing, or protecting it from external stressors.
Aloe vera, blackberry extracts, and green tea extracts, among others, typically provide these benefits. Ingredients like zinc also have oil control properties, while sea buckthorn water and Centella Asiatica extract can hydrate and soothe the skin. You do not only gain extra advantages, but you are also confident that you are receiving your money's worth.
With so many serums available in the market, it's easy to find a multifunctional one suitable to one or more of your skin concerns. Choose one based on your identified skin concerns, and don't hesitate to check in with your dermatologist.
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Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop
An Award-Winning Serum That Rejuvenates the Skin
Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum
An Age-Defying Serum That Exfoliates the Skin
Bright Triple Glow Facial Serum
A 3-in-1 Serum With Multiple Benefits for Dry Skin
Daily Brightening Serum
A Daily Serum That Gently Evens Out Skin Tone
Vegan-Friendly Formula for Sensitive Skin
Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum
A High-Strength Niacinamide Serum That Reduces Oil Production and Blemishes
Bright Complete Vitamin C Serum
Vitamin C-Rich Serum That Quickly Fades Dark Spots
Pure Vitamin C 21.5 Advanced Serum
Highly Concentrated Vitamin C Serum for a Radiant Complexion
The Body Shop
Drops of Light Brightening Serum
A Lightweight Serum That Brightens and Cleanses the Skin
Cos de BAHA
Arbutin + Niacinamide Serum
Organic Serum for Dark Spot Correction
Notable for its numerous awards, this highly regarded and best-selling serum will definitely give you rejuvenated and brighter skin! This product earned the Best Skincare Product in the 2019 BeautyMNL awards and the Best Brightening Serum title in the 2019 HER Beauty Awards, among many others.
Formulated with a mild concentration of vitamin C with the help of Centella Asiatica extracts, this serum tightens the pores, fades stubborn spots, prevents hyperpigmentation, and even protects it from UV damage! It is also suitable for all skin types, especially for sensitive and oily skin, since it has a lightweight, non-sticky formula and has the right water-to-oil balance.
Do you have dull and aging skin? Say goodbye to these issues with this age-defying serum! This serum is a vegan and gluten-free product that contains 15% vitamin C, 5% polyhydroxy acids (PHAs), and pigments inspired by banana powder to rapidly brighten, firm, and minimize the appearance of dark spots, pores, and wrinkles while exfoliating it.
Moreover, it has vitamin E that boosts vitamin C and protects the skin against pollution. Additionally, this serum has hyaluronic acid that strengthens the skin's moisture barrier. This serum also does not contain parabens, sulfates, or phthalates, plus it's clinically tested for safety. This product might be on the expensive side, but it's definitely worth the splurge!
Your face cream might not be enough to brighten and hydrate your skin, but this serum might be! Containing three powerful skincare ingredients, this serum promises to transform your skin from dry and dull to dewy and bright. Its key ingredient, niacinamide, not only brightens dark spots but also helps minimize pores.
Moreover, it contains GlutaBoost+, made up of glutathione. This antioxidant helps fade dark spots, as well as brighten up the skin. It also has hyaluronic acid, which deeply hydrates the skin, giving it a dewy look. Not only that, but this serum is also notable for bagging the Best Brightening Serum award at Cosmopolitan Philippines Beauty Awards in 2021.
If you're having a problem with uneven skin tone and would like to solve this without irritating your skin, Good Molecule's serum has got you covered! This serum has beta arbutin, which inhibits the production of excess melanin to give you clear and even skin.
Moreover, it has hyaluronic acid that binds and draws moisture to the skin. With its minimal list of ingredients, you can also be sure that this serum can be used daily without irritating your skin while brightening it. And since it has a pH level of 5.32 or the right water-to-oil balance, it is an ideal option for those with oily skin.
If you're looking for a lightweight yet powerful serum, this might be it! This serum contains highly potent niacinamide, which gives multiple benefits to the skin, such as minimizing your skin's pores, brightening dark spots, as well as reducing signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles.
Furthermore, it has a vegan-friendly formula loaded with blackberry extracts, which are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Together with zinc, it can help calm and soothe your skin while evening out your skin tone. It does not contain harsh chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, BPA, and artificial fragrances, too, so it's suitable even for those with sensitive skin.
Containing 10% niacinamide and 1% zinc pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA), this serum is ideal if you want to rid your skin of pimples, lessen the visibility of blemishes, and control extra sebum. It also has a pH range of 5.50 to 6.50, which makes it perfect for those with oily skin.
Moreover, this serum is vegan and free of ingredients like alcohol, sulfates, and parabens that can dry out your skin or cause skin irritation. Thus, it is a decent choice for those with sensitivities to these ingredients. Its users also like how it doesn't feel sticky, especially in the hot weather.
Formulated with 30 times more vitamin C than other counterparts, this serum ensures lighter skin and faded dark spots in as early as three days! Its concentrated formula also aids in lightening sun spots, freckles, and acne marks because it helps the skin produce 85% less melanin.
Furthermore, this serum hydrates the skin with its glycerin content, leaving it smoother and healthier-looking. It is also all-natural and dermatologically tested to be safe and effective, even for people with sensitive skin.
If your skin is suffering from acne scars and pigmentation, this highly concentrated serum might be for you! Containing 21.5% vitamin C, this serum evens your skin tone and improves its texture by removing dead skin cells. It also has sea buckthorn water, which is known for preventing acne because of its oil-control properties.
More than that, this serum only has ten ingredients in total, making it fast absorbing. It is also free from parabens and other harsh ingredients that may irritate your skin. Just note that this serum may oxidize and leak when exposed to heat because of its high concentration, so it should be stored in a cool and dry place.
Made with vitamin C and red algae extracts from the North Atlantic, this lightweight and clinically tested serum ensures brighter skin with a reduced appearance of blemishes and acne spots. Its users also love how results are already visible within a week of continuous use!
Not only that, this product moisturizes the skin with glycerin, leaving it feeling plumper and smoother. With its red algae extracts, this serum will also help cleanse your skin to leave it looking luminous, clear, and healthier.
Made with 74% organic ingredients, this serum ensures a brightening effect without the side effects. It contains 5% beta-arbutin and 5% niacinamide, which are ideal ingredients for correcting dark spots and balancing out complexion.
This serum is also recommended for dry skin, as it contains hyaluronic acid, which hydrates the skin and makes it plumper. It is a good option for people with sensitive skin, too, because it does not have harsh chemicals like alcohol, parabens, sulfates, and fragrances, among others.
Below are some of the most asked questions on the web answered by Dr. Katrina.
Two to three drops are enough to cover the whole face! Careful with the dropper so it doesn't touch your skin - this prevents contamination of the serum with the natural flora on your skin.
Not necessarily. If you apply it too often, it's possible that you might develop irritation and make matters even worse.
It depends. It boils down to what ingredients are incorporated into the different serums and whether or not they can have a bad interaction with one another. Another consideration is your skin type and tolerance to different ingredients.
Acne, dry skin, dark spots, and more skin issues can be quite unsettling, especially if you desire a clear, glass-looking complexion. If you're looking for products that will pamper and clarify your skin, check out these links below!
Author: Kate Basa
Editor: R. Victoriano
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