When looking for a natural depigmenting cream with the right ingredients it is difficult to know if antioxidants will fulfill their function as well as specifically depigmenting substances.

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And to advise oneself to prepare one’s own cream or depigmenting serum, research can become an important task given the wide range of theoretically clarifying substances that flood us everywhere.

And it is that, although preparing a cream to moisturize our skin daily with natural elements is something relatively easy, it is not the same to try to prepare a depigmenting cream that is natural and that also works without attacking the skin.

Even out the tone of our skin face is something demanded, and increasingly in a more sustainable and less aggressive way. Everybody wants to wear a beautiful skin without spots that age our appearance.

THE ORIGIN OF SKIN SPOTS

-Most pigment spots are caused by excessive exposure to the sun (solar lentigos). So they tend to appear in greater numbers in the parts of the body that are most often exposed to the sun such as the hands, face and arms. They are usually small and with a dark tone.

-We will highlight a very common pigmentary spot in pregnant women and in women who take contraceptive pills. These spots are called melasma or chloasma and are caused by a hormonal change.

-They can also be caused by some type of trauma, either by a cosmetic procedure, laser type, chemical peels, even a juvenile acne can cause a dark spot on the skin that can last over time and produce an injury and is when post-inflammatory lesions appear, by healing the injury.

AND ITS MANIFESTATIONS

Whether they are age-related spots such as solar lentigos, or spots caused by acne inflammations, or spots due to hormonal changes (melasmas) that all women go through in their lives; hyperpigmentation manifests itself in the skin due to an excess of melanin production, which is a natural pigment found in the skin, hair and iris of the eyes, and which is formed from the oxidation of tyrosine.

This production can be altered for several reasons. Normally, melanin is produced naturally in our body as a defense mechanism against UV rays produced by the sun, and acts as a natural sunscreen. Therefore, depending on our skin color, eyes and hair, we have a skin phototype I, II, III, IV, V and VI, from the lightest to the darkest.

As we said, there are several types of hyperpigmentations originated by different reasons:

1.-FRECKLES, for example, are in most cases of genetic origin and usually appear on light skin on the parts of the body most exposed to the sun.

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2-SOLAR LENTIGO: They are hyperpigmentations with a round and flat shape, of small size. They are spots of shade between yellowish brown and dark brown, reaching black. They are produced by an excess of production in the synthesis of melanin. They are located in areas exposed to the sun and stimulated by UV radiation.

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3-MELASMA: It is usually located on the forehead-nose, cheeks and nose and lower jaw. It is usually due to a hormonal factor such as pregnancy (second month), estrogens and progestogens, ovarian dysfunction and thyroid dysfunction, together with solar radiation. Melasma is aggravated by sun exposure. When there is an increase in the number of melanocytes, we call them nevi or moles, which are of variable size and shape and have a dark, even black color. If they appear with a very exaggerated growth, exudation, itching, pain or inflammatory signs, it is necessary to consult directly with the doctor, to rule out other diseases or that they worsen.

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In this blog we are dedicated to natural cosmetics and from this theoretical framework we want to analyze all the possibilities that “slow” natural cosmetics offer. To do this, we will start by clarifying the possibilities that conventional cosmetics offer.

Conventional cosmetics use many types of substances to lighten facial blemishes and even out the tone of our skin.

CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT OF HYPERPIGMENTATION

Conventional cosmetics treat hyperpigmentation with depigmenting substances that attenuate or make disappear the spots produced on the skin by melanin.

Depending on the type of blemish on the skin and the depth of that spot, one type of depigmentant or another is chosen. If the stain is more superficial, it is easier to remove, in these types of spots are used depigmenting hydroquinone type, kojic acid, tretinoin and glycolic acid.

In deeper spots a mixture of these acids plus glycolic acid is used. All these acids are contraindicated in times of pregnancy and lactation.

TYPES OF DEPIGMENTANTES according to Ferrer pharmacy in Valencia (Spain):

https://www.farmaferrer.com/blog/c/consejos/como-podemos-eliminar-nuestras-manchas-en-la-piel

HYDROQUINONE and derivatives: Hydroquinone acts by inhibiting tyrosinase whose usual concentration as a depigmenting agent is usually used at 2 and 6%. At higher concentrations it can cause many adverse reactions. Care should also be taken to apply the product only in dark areas, since, if applied in other areas, the depigmenting would also lighten them leaving the skin of the whitish contour.

A chemical peel with glycolic acid is usually associated with hydroquinone treatment to enhance the effect of hydroquinone. The treatment is slow and you have to spend at least three months, it is easier to treat light skin than dark, and the results are seen earlier, you also have to protect the skin with a sunscreen since that skin is more unprotected, for This is usually done in winter.

Once the treatment is finished, the use of hydroquinone depigmenting will continue with a discontinuous use pattern, but sun protection will continue to reduce the risk of possible recurrences. Sometimes 0.025% tretinoin is also used concurrently with hydroquinone.

ASCORBIC ACID OR VITAMIN C: Ascorbic acid, despite its low stability, since it oxidizes very easily, has a good depigmenting activity. It also works by inhibiting tyrosinase, which decreases the formation of melanin. Apart from having many benefits for the skin such as: tissue healing, fibroblast synthesis, reorganization of collagen fibers, providing luminosity, increasing the resistance capacity of blood vessels, reducing expression wrinkles, as well as the ability to promote gentle exfoliation and cell renewal.

AZELAIC ACID: Azelaic acid also has a depigmenting action since it inhibits the synthesis of tyrosinase. This acid is always more indicated in skin with rosacea and acne, therefore recommended in depigmentation caused by inflammation and infection of the hair follicles in oily skin affected by acne or in skin prone to seborrheic dermatitis.

KOJIC ACID: Its main action is the inhibition of tyrosinase. Other acids to highlight for their depigmenting action that we can find in the market are creams based on phytic acid, lipoic acid, ellagic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, azelaic acid, together with vegetable extracts derived from bearberry, licorice or mulberry. All of them in association with glycolic acid.

MELATONIN: Melatonin works by preventing melanin accumulations from forming, and unifies its distribution, reducing the formation of spots in the future. It is a powerful antioxidant, which reduces free radicals formed in the skin due to stress, pollution, etc.

GLUTATHION: Inhibits tyrosinase and melanin synthesis, as well as its deposits. It reduces free radicals, like melatonin, favoring the activation of tyrosinase with the subsequent increase in melanin.

FERULIC ACID: With a particular depigmenting value since it offers a photoprotective effect that prevents harmful UVA rays and harmful free radicals from penetrating the skin. In addition to reducing blemishes by inhibiting the production of melanin.

ARBUTIN: Action on melanin blocking tyrosinase. All skin types, especially skin with acne and sensitive skin or dermatitis such as rosacea, couperose, eczema and psoriasis.

TRANEXAMIC ACID: Inhibits melanin by blocking tyrosinase. It has lower range and potency than hydroquinone when used topically.

LICORICE: Prevents sun pigmentation and inhibits tyrosinase activity. The glycine it contains evens the tone through a better distribution of melanin in the skin. It is especially effective when combined with Glutathione, Melatonin, Arbutin or Kojic acid.

GIGAWHITE: Inhibits melanin by blocking tyrosinase, it is the substitute for hydroquinone in very sensitive skin that has little tolerance to hydroquinone in medium-high concentrations.

NIACINAMIDE (Vitamin B-3): Cellularly interferes with the activity between keratinocytes and melanocytes, reducing melanogenesis and thus the risk of spots. It does not inhibit melanin, but if the mechanism of action of melanocytes-keratinocytes so associated with other depigmenting, enhances its action and that of its associates.

ALPHAHYDROXY ACIDS (AHA): They are formulated at low concentrations since they promote light exfoliation by reducing the cohesion of the corneocytes and stimulating new growth in the basal layer. If they are formulated at high concentrations, they can cause very aggressive exfoliations.

The most commonly used AHAs are Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Mandelic Acid and Ferulic Acid. They are usually combined in terms of their peeling power.

Mandelic Acid: It comes from bitter almonds and is an antibacterial depigmenting agent.

Glycolic acid: It is extracted from sugar cane. It is the most comedogenic alpha hydroxy acid and least compatible with dark skin. Not recommended for dark skin or with high phototypes. It is recommended to combine it with an antibacterial acid (alpha or beta hydroxy acid, such as salicylic or mandelic).

Lactic Acid: It comes from sour milk and other dairy derivatives. It is depigmenting especially at the level of chemical peels.

Malic Acid: Coming from apples, it is a light depigmenting agent that requires to be accompanied by another AHA and Magnesium to enhance its action.

According to this pharmacy, it is always recommended that the skin be protected with sunscreen throughout the year, but especially while undergoing a depigmentation treatment. In this case, it is necessary to use a sunscreen with a high protection index (SPF 50+), since in these treatments the skin is more sensitive to solar radiation.

THE LATEST RESEARCH IN VEGETABLE DEPIGMENTANT MOLECULES

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4623628/

“As tyrosinase inhibition is still the most sought-after mechanism of skin lightening, herbs having such property will show promise as depigmenting agents. Hence, they can be potentially employed as effective skin-whitening agents as well as for treating hyper pigmentation disorders.

The primary determinant of variability in human skin color is the density, amount as well as the distribution of Melanin pigment secreted by melanocyte cells in basal layer of the epidermis by a process known as Melanogenesis.

According to Ayurveda, skin whitening plants are the kind of herbs that interfere in the melanogenesis pathway through tyrosinase inhibition as per biomedicine. This shows their potential to act as good skin whitening agents.

Skin-lightening agents interfere in the melanogenesis pathway, melanin transfer or desquamation for lowering pigmentation on the surface of the skin, which generally acts by any of the ways such as Tyrosinase inhibition.

Apart from Tyrosinase inhibitors, Anti-oxidants and Vitamins such as A, B, C, E either directly or indirectly serve as skin lightening ingredients.

Some of the best known tyrosinase inhibitors are hydroquinone and kojic acid which interact with copper at the active site of the enzyme tyrosinase, thus decreasing its activity”.

 

 We, from our “slow” framework of natural cosmetics, will always try to use the vegetable substitutes of molecules with depigmenting active ingredients when making our homemade cosmetic products.

 

FOR VARIOUS REASONS:

Health reasons, if you have read the side effects derived from hydroquinone treatments are quite aggressive. Apart from requiring creams with high levels of photoprotection that, today, are based on endocrine disrupting chemicals. In other words, the use of these aggressive synthetic molecules such as hydroquinone, demands that to avoid greater damage we use other aggressive solar photoprotection formulas on a daily basis.

This is precisely the same situation that occurs with the aggressive drugs of conventional medicine, which require us to use other drugs to alleviate the damage and side effects of the former.

Reasons of environmental sustainability, since throughout our numerous posts and articles we have tried to show that drugs and products that cause environmental damage (such as sunscreen creams that damage marine corals or other chemical substances and synthetic fragrances that also cause damage for aquatic life and become pollutants difficult to break down) are the same ones that also cause damage to the body and numerous side effects.

And, of course, reasons of efficacy because if you have read carefully, hydroquinone not only needs long and prolonged treatments to produce an effect, but there are also darker-skinned people to whom hydroquinone ends up producing more spots on instead of clarifying the ones they already have.

 

REASONS THAT WE COULD SUMMARIZE LIKE THIS, in the words of Joel Yong, Ph.D. in biochemical engineering and researcher:

Because we don’t want to be suckered into paying for the costs of band-aid treatments that don’t deal with the root cause of what we’re facing. After all, the health sciences are heavily manipulated by human greed these days. Being careful of what we eat and what we put on our skin is highly necessary”.

So, for example, why do we need to use retinoic acid (or retinoids) with all its adverse effects of inflammation, erythema, itching and skin peeling if we can use a bakuchiol serum? or; better yet, daily use bakuchi oil (from which the active principle of bakuchiol is extracted) and which was traditionally used in India to treat the most serious skin diseases, such as leprosy.

In a 2014 study where the structure of both assets is compared, it is concluded that with different structures the same functionality is achieved.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ics.12117

Subsequently, in a 2018 study conducted by the Department of Dermatology at the University of California, it was concluded that both bakuchiol and retinol significantly decreased wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, without many differences between them.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bjd.16918

The only difference found was the presence of more flaking or itching on the faces of people who used retinol.

And, why use malic acid as a depigmenting agent if we can use a cotton ball smeared with apple cider vinegar several times a day on our spots? As you know, apple cider vinegar contains malic acid in quantity, in addition to other alpha hydroxy acids.

Or better yet, a cotton ball smeared in lemon juice, which contains ascorbic acid (another AHA) …

Or, why resort to complicated and aggressive facials with glycolic acid (another alpha hydroxy acid, AHA, which is extracted from sugar cane) if we can very easily exfoliate our skin with cane sugar and oil?

In a previous post, we even described how to prepare a facial serum with ascorbic acid, that is, with a vitamin C capsule, and in a tremendously simple way.

 

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cosmetic cream, oil, orange on a gray background

 

And not only that, conventional cosmetics makes little or no distinction between depigmenting substances and anti-aging antioxidant substances (anti-aging), which is rather the effect produced by antioxidant molecules. Probably for marketing reasons, since antioxidants seem to be more fashionable.

Logically, along with the skin rejuvenation effects, there are also effects of regeneration of the epidermis and uniformity of the tone. But, in the case of antioxidant substances, we would say that these are effects associated with the general skin rejuvenation effect, which is what makes these antioxidant substances so fashionable: vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B3 or niacinamide, vegetable antioxidants such as blueberry extracts or resveratrol …

And it is that substances such as ascorbic acid and vitamin E, antioxidants par excellence, manage to increase the photoprotection and barrier function of the skin itself …

https://scielo.isciii.es/pdf/ars/v59n2/2340-9894-ars-59-2-77.pdf

According to Celia Castaño Amores and Pablo José Hernández Benavides from the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Technology of the University of Granada.

The antioxidant cosmetic active ingredients reveal their effectiveness in the course of cellular senescence, thanks to their ability to neutralize the harmful products that are generated. The joint action of ascorbic acid and vitamin E stands out. Others, such as retinol derivatives, carotenoids, vitamin B3 and flavonoids have been shown to have a beneficial effect”. Concluding these researchers: In order to treat and prevent skin aging, the application of active antioxidants is essential”.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Addor FAS. Antioxidants in dermatology. A Bras Dermatol. 2017; 92 (3): 356-362

Burke K. Mechanisms of aging and development: A new understanding of environmental damage to the skin and prevention with topical antioxidants, Mech Aging Dev. 2017

Poljšak B, Dahmane RG, Godić A. Intrinsic skin aging: the role of oxidative stress. Acta Dermatovenerol Alp Pannonica Adriat. 2012; 21: 33–36 to treat and prevent skin aging, the application of antioxidant active ingredients is essential.

 

However, depigmenting substances, in principle, are not anti-aging substances. Although, as we know, especially if they are of plant origin, they have many other associated properties, including rejuvenating properties, since plant molecules act synergistically, enhancing their effects between them.

Depigmenting substances of plant origin are molecules that inhibit the action of tyrosinase, such as the glabridin contained in licorice, and that have skin lightening properties that inhibit the production of the enzyme tyrosinase. As we know, this enzyme is the one that synthesizes the melanin that makes our skin darken after exposure to the sun. This substance is also known to prevent pigmentation that occurs due to UVB rays from the sun.

Or the arbutin derived from the leaves of bearberry or uva ursi, which is a natural depigmenting molecule that also acts by inhibiting the synthesis of melanin and which breaks down into hydroquinone when it comes into contact with our intestinal flora. However, it does not have the cytotoxic effects of synthetic hydroquinone, which makes it possible to use it regularly. It also has sebum-regulating, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.

The liquorice extract can be obtained very easily by preparing an infusion in oil (or oleate) or, also, a hydro glycerinated extract. And, likewise, it is possible to obtain the active principle of arbutin from the leaves of the bearberry (or uva ursi), to make our own facial creams and serums.

 

This is the reason why knowing how to prepare extracts in natural cosmetics is so interesting. We can prepare an extract from almost any plant with cosmetic properties, only in some cases we will use the flowers, in others the leaves, as in this case, and in others perhaps the roots or seeds.

 If we want an extract to integrate into the oily phase of our cream or cosmetic preparation, then we will prepare an oleate with the plant in question as we have done, then with the leaves of the bearberry.

If we want to integrate it into the aqueous phase, we can prepare a hydroalcoholic tincture or a glycerinated extract. This example that we have taken from the internet is interesting because it shows us a special combination of hydroalcoholic glycerinated extract for natural cosmetics that we can easily integrate into the aqueous phase of our creams and serums.

 

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EXAMPLE OF HYDROALCOHOLIC GLYCERINATED EXTRACT OF GAYUBA (uva-ursi):

We will use the following ingredients:

Gayuba: 20gr

Mineral or distilled water:33gr

Alcohol of 70º:33gr

Vegetable glycerin:33gr

 

The ratio will then be 1: 5 in a hydroalcoholic glycerinated extract, that is, an extract composed of plant, in this case gayuba, and solvent formed by water, alcohol and vegetable glycerin.

Just pour the ingredients into a glass jar and leave them for about 10-15 days in a cool, dry place, sheltered from light. We will shake from time to time to check that the solvent covers the entire plant. Then we will filter and you are ready to add in our cosmetic formulas.

We will add it around 7% in a cream of depigmenting effect.

As we said, we can also prepare an infused oil very easily with the dried leaves of the gayuba and a quality vegetable oil, and include it in our preparations.

 

EXAMPLE OF DEPIGMENTING FACIAL LOTION BASED ON GAYUBA OLEATE and cold infused because the sucre ester emulsifier allows it.

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Ingredients to prepare about 100 ml of lotion:

5 tablespoons (10 grams) of hydrosol

4 tablespoons bearberry oleate

3 tablespoons of sucre ester

And a few drops of preservative and, optionally, some AE with depigmenting properties.

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As you know, we like minimalist recipes with quality natural ingredients and selected active ingredients. Not by adding more ingredients the recipe will work better if the ingredients are not well combined or are natural.

We have seen many recipes for lotions, even formulated with sucre ester, that make life very complicated by adding a co-emulsifier to the sucre ester, or xanthan gum to thicken the solution, etc. It is not necessary if we add enough sucre ester. With this we simplify the recipe without reducing quality and make it accessible to everyone who wants to make easy and effective homemade cosmetics.

PROCESS:

1.-We will pour the oil into a bowl and then we will add the sugar ester, stirring very well with the rod. (If you see that it does not finish curdling, simply heat it a little in a water bath and you will see that it thickens very quickly).

2.-Now we will pour the hydrolate (we have chosen rockrose hydrolate, which combines very well in this anti-aging cream) and we will mix it vigorously for 2 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken and whiten.

3.-Finally, we will add the preservative, if we wish, to preserve our cream from microorganisms and, optionally, vitamin E or some treatment AE. Now we can bottle our moisturizing lotion.

We have chosen benzoin tincture as a preservative because we want it to also serve as an active principle to help unify facial tone.

We are going to use the tincture of benzoin, which we have previously prepared following Virginia’s guidelines, from natural tricks, in our facial lotion. And we are going to add it to 2%, which will mean about 20 drops of tincture, since the lotion that we are going to make has a total of approximately 100 ml.

Here we leave you the link to Virginia’s entrance in “trucos naturales” website, where she explains the clarifying and preservative properties of the tincture of benzoin:

https://escuelaherbal.com/benjui-que-es-y-para-que-sirve/

Plus, thanks to the benzoin tincture, our cream now smells delicious!

 

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In a future post we will prepare a serum with niacinamide which, as we explained before, is a vitamin with very interesting antioxidant, anti-aging and facial tone properties.

 

Dihydroquercetin is also a depigmenting substance discovered in recent times and which has great potential since, in addition to being depigmenting, it is a powerful antioxidant.

This plant substance is an exception with great potential in the world of antioxidant substances and active principles for natural cosmetics. Dihydroquercetin extract, also known as taxifolin, is extracted from Russian dahurian larch (Larix dahurica) and is being used in natural cosmetics with great success given its comprehensive facial rejuvenation properties.

The molecule inhibits melanin synthesis measured in vitro more effectively than arbutin and kojic acid and is also a powerful protector against skin photoaging given its high antioxidant capacity, which in tests shows superior efficacy to vitamin E and resveratrol.

We, at the level of molecules of plant origin with depigmenting as well as antioxidant capacity, want to highlight the powerful effects of turmeric, available to everyone, and whose bioactive component, curcumin, has been recently proven (Ayurvedic cosmetics know this for millennia) that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that attenuate acne scars and dark spots.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

A recent study found that turmeric essential oil can brighten the skin in three weeks. These brilliant benefits are likely the result of powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that work together to heal and enhance skin’s natural health.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0944711316302549?via%3Dihub

We know that the sun’s rays are the skin’s worst enemy, causing burns, skin cancer, hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. However, it has been seen that the powerful antioxidant effects of turmeric can help delay damage, thus acting as a potent anti-aging molecule.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378874118305221?via%3Dihub

Anti-aging properties of Curcuma heyneana Valeton & Zipj: a scientific approach to its use in the Javanese tradition.

 

 

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