What is the difference between brightening and whitening products? Which one should I apply on my skin?
If you are someone who has experienced dark spots or have feel that you have dull, uneven skin tone, you are probably all too familiar with the terms brightening and whitening. But what do these terms mean exactly? Is there any difference in terms of how they work on the skin?
We have been getting this question so many times (believe us, way more than we can count!) and we know that choosing the right skincare with the right benefits for your skin is of utmost importance. That's why we are here today to answer your questions around brightening vs whitening once and for all, and also debunk the myth that they are the exact same thing!
What is meant by 'Brightening'?
Brightening is increasing your skin’s radiance and glow to restore its lively, vibrant complexion. Brightening products helps bring the skin back to its original healthy state by rejuvenating dull, dry and tired-looking skin by sloughing away dead skin cells and stimulating skin cell regeneration. An important distinction between brightening and whitening is that brightening products do not always come with whitening effects, although there can be an overlap between the two when certain ingredients such as white ginseng saponin is incorporated into a product.
For brightening products, you want to look for products that contain ingredients such as Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA), Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA), fruit acids that remove dead skin cells and increase skin cell turnover to reveal a more luminous glow. A great way to incorporate gentle exfoliants into your routine is to use KLAIRS Youthful Glow Sugar Mask which contains grapefruits and raspberries to soften skin, as well as sugar granules to gently exfoliate the skin to remove dead skin and impurities.
You can also opt for products that contain Vitamin E or Niacinamide and Hyaluronic Acid that evens out skin tone by strengthening skin barrier, increasing skin cell turnover and keeping it fresh and plump. Vitamin E is high in antioxidants that help restore the skin from damage caused by sun exposure or other environmental factors; while Hyaluronic Acid works by diminishing fine lines, retaining moisture and protect is from environmental damage which can lead to overproduction of melanin. ISNTREE Hyaluronic Acid Water Essence is packed with 8 different types of hyaluronic acid that effectively penetrates the skin to deliver deep hydration, plump skin and reveal a smoother and evenly toned skin.
Finally, if you are a fan of natural ingredients, you can look for products that contain ingredients like pearls and rice which are known for their brightening effects on the skin. Pearls are rich in amino acids and minerals that promote skin elasticity, smooth skin texture and brighten complexion. Rice is another ancient beauty secret hailed for its skin brightening benefits. It contains high concentrations of Para Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA), ferulic acid and allantoin, which, when applied on the skin has been shown to stimulate collagen production and reveal smooth, glowing skin. Got 5-10 minutes to spare? I’M FROM Rice Mask is a gentle wash-off mask pack enriched with 4.1% premium organic Yeoju rice from Korea, to gently exfoliate dull, dead skin cells and reveal a brighter, luminous skin tone. In just 10 minutes, your skin will be left feeling smooth, clear and radiant.
What is meant by 'Whitening'?
Whitening offers a more intensive treatment than brightening. Whitening products reduces pigmentation, dark spots, scars and discoloration by evening out skin tone. Some whitening products are potent enough to improve skin complexion when used consistently over a long period of time, but results will vary from person to person. Whitening products do not bleach or drastically alter your skin tone, what they do is even out skin tone and restores your skin’s natural tone for lighter-appearing, smooth and even skin.
A popular whitening ingredient that you’ve probably come across in numerous health and beauty products is Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a packed with powerful antioxidants that target and diminish dark spots and discoloration of the skin by inhibiting melanin production which gives colour to our skin. There are several Vitamin C products that we love with varying concentrations to suit your skin’s needs. We recommend starting with a lower concentration if you have just started incorporating it into your routine, SOME BY MI Yuja Niacin Blemish Care Serum is a lightweight serum formulated with 82% Korean Yuja rich in Vitamin C, to refresh the skin while fading spots and blemishes caused by scarring.
GOODAL Green Tangerine Vita C Cream is a fresh, lightweight moisturiser packed with high concentrations of antioxidants, skin-loving nutrients and Vitamin C that will effectively target dark spots, uneven skin tone and suppresses melanin production. Formulated with 62% green tangerine extract that contain 10 times more Vitamin C than mature tangerines, for efficacious skin whitening!
The fast absorbing texture of the cream leaves a smooth finish that is perfect underneath makeup to be used with your day time skincare routine, or used at night before bedtime for effective skin repairing. Pair this whitening cream with a serum of your choice such as those containing hyaluronic acid, beta glucans or glycerin to give your skin a plumper, luminous and silky smooth complexion.
If you suffer from stubborn blemishes that don’t seem to go away no matter what you do, we know exactly how annoying it is and we feel the frustration too! BY WISHTREND Pure Vitamin C21.5 Advanced Serum contains 21.5% concentrated Vitamin C to quickly eliminate dark spots and pigmentation marks. Its high concentration of Vitamin C, paired with panthenol and allantoin helps keep the skin calm. With all Vitamin C products, it is recommended that adequate sun protection is applied to prevent it from oxidizing which can hinder its effectiveness.
For those who are new to Vitamin C products or have skin that is more sensitive, we recommend trying a gentler Vitamin C serum with lower concentrations like KLAIRS Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop. This serum contains 5% Vitamin C which is enough to eliminate dead skin, control sebum while improving the appearance of pigmentation and scars.
The Best of Both Worlds
What about products that are both brightening AND whitening? Yes! There is such a thing. These products contain ingredients such as pearls and white ginseng saponin which suppress melanin production, or scientifical ingredients that have been formulated to eliminate dark spots over time while improving overall skin tone.
If you are someone with oily, acne-prone skin, we understand how frustrating it is when your breakouts cause dark spots (so uncalled for, right?)! In addition to that, the build up of excess sebum can make our complexion appear dull, tired and lacking vitality. Don't worry, COSRX Refresh AHA BHA Vitamin C Toner has got your back! This watery type toner is enriched with gentle chemical exfoliants that will control excess sebum, eliminate dead skin for brighter complexion; and it also contains Vitamin C to whiten those bothersome dark spots.
Get crystal –clear, rejuvenated and energized complexion with the power of Korean traditional herbs from THE FACE SHOP Yehwadam Hwansaenggo Rejuvenating Radiance Toner! Start your skincare routine with a brightening and whitening toner, packed with Korean traditional herbal ingredients and white ginseng that will not only brighten dull complexion, but also target uneven skin tone, texture and dark spots to restore your skin’s youthful glow and luminosity! With its slightly viscous texture that leaves a healthy glow, this toner is perfect to rewind the aging clock and improve your skin’s vitality!
Achieve clear, dewy and bright skin with LANEIGE White Dew Ampoule Essence. This powerful brightening and whitening essence uses LANEIGE’s Mela-Vita Crusher technology and Saurus Chinensis Extract to improve pigmentation marks, brighten dull skin and even out skin tone from within. Its rich, smooth texture penetrates the skin well for faster, visible results with consistent usage. Apart from that, this essence contains Phyto sugar Water to keep the skin well moisturized and plump.
This silky-smooth, whitening cream is one that you would want to add to your daytime and night time routine! SULWHASOO Snowise Brightening Cream is a deeply moisturizing and nourishing cream that contains White Ginseng Saponin and other brightening ingredients to deliver intensive brightening and whitening care to the skin by minimizing the appearance of dark spots, pigmentation and revealing a smooth, illuminated skin.
Wow, that was quite a mouthful of information to digest wasn’t it? We hope we have clarified the differences between brightening and whitening products so you can incorporate the right one into your routine and achieve the best possible result for your skin! Let us know in the comments below which brightening and whitening skincare products you have tried or looking to incorporate into your routine!