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Three Natural Compounds to Manage Brown Spots: Part 3


Liver spots (age spots) are the natural consequence of chronic sun exposure. This column is the third in a series in which I'll review 3 natural compounds that help to normalize melanin output and promote even pigment distribution for the appearance of even-toned, younger looking skin.

As the safety concerns mount for the traditional prescription therapy of hydroquinone, I've been looking for a while now into safer, more natural ingredients to help lighten pigment. The first two were alpha-arbutin and niacinamide.

The third is tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, which is is the ester form of vitamin C. Applied topically, vitamin C is a potent scavenger of UV-induced free radicals in skin cells. Oxidative stress activates the enzyme tyrosinase, which makes melanin. So vitamin C helps to prevent and reverse UV-induced pigmentation.

The flip side of an antioxidant is that it oxidizes (undergoes a chemical reaction and turns brown) on exposure to air, light, and heat. Having the ester form of vitamin C is important because it is stable in the bottle for several months without turning brown and losing its efficacy. The concentration is also very important. The product has to have enough of the active vitamin C ingredient to actually work.

For my patients, I recommend that 21% vitamin C ester be applied every morning, the first layer on clean skin, for prevention and correction of sun spots and melasma.


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