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1. Brightening skin care products do not always work on all types of pigmentation.
The effectiveness of a brightening product depends on how deep, dark and extensive the skin pigmentation is. Unlike freckles, melasma – which appear as bigger patches on both sides of the face – can be caused by hormonal imbalances, so you may want to consult a doctor to be sure. Up to 75 per cent of pregnant women and up to 35 per cent of women using oral contraceptives are affected by melasma, says Dr Eileen Tan, dermatologist from Dr Eileen Tan Skin, Laser and Hair Transplant Clinic. “Melasma may fade away without treatment after delivery or after the discontinuation of hormonal treatment. For some people, it may worsen over time.”
Tip: In general, the quickest and most effective way to remove freckles and melasma is with laser or broadband light therapies. They’re better at targeting stubborn pigmentation because they reach layers of the skin that creams cannot. Between the two, laser can penetrate deeper into the skin – that’s why it’s recommended for melasma. Since freckles are superficial, broadband light treatment should suffice.
2. Brightening skin care products should not be used after sun tanning.
If you've been out in the sun or have a sunburn, you can't prevent a tan from developing by slathering on brightening skin care products afterwards. In fact, you should avoid using brightening products while you’re red or peeling. The active ingredients may aggravate and sensitise your sunburnt skin, causing more peeling, says Dr Low Chai Ling, medical director of The Sloane Clinc Singapore. You can’t prevent the darkening process, but you could minimise the damage by applying a steroid cream (an over-the-counter one will do) as soon as possible, says Dr Cheong Wai Kwong, senior consultant dermatologist from Specialist Skin Clinic. This quells inflammation that ages skin.
Tip: Resume your brightening skincare routine one to two weeks after a sunburn – when your skin has healed. And play it safe with a gentle formula that is suitable for sensitive complexions.
3. You don't have to use the entire brightening skin care range to see results.
There is no need to use the full range,” says Dr Cheong. “If dull skin is your only concern, you might want to choose a specific product from the range, and continue using your regular moisturiser and sunscreen.” This makes sense especially if your existing skin care products already work well for your skin.
Tip: If there is one brightening skin care item you should invest in, let it be the serum. Serums contain high concentrations of active ingredients, and are formulated to penetrate skin more effectively for better results.