You have probably heard of vitamin c, glycolic acid and retinol – skincare ingredients that help fight pigmentation, improve dull and uneven skin texture, and even reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. A rather new and still rare skincare ingredient has now surfaced, with a lot of research commending on its effectiveness for healing dark spots and reducing the appearance of unwelcome discoloration. Tranexamic acid is now slowly being infused into over-the-counter hyperpigmentation formulas such as serums, creams, and even whitening sheet masks.
But tranexamic acid is not new. It is actually a drug approved for use in women experiencing menorrhagia, to reduce blood loss. However, physicians noticed that patients who took tranexamic acid also noticed an improvement in skin discolouration. Tranexamic acid is now sometimes given orally by dermatologists for melasma short-term.
Environmental elements such as sun exposure, hormonal therapy such as being on the oral contraceptive pill and some treatments can trigger melasma by activating inflammatory mediators within the skin. This results in an increase in the natural pigment production of skin, appearing as gradually obvious dark patches. Tranexamic acid inhibits tyrosinase production in the skin and and also blocks the transfer of pigment from melanocytes to keratinocytes, improving discoloration in the process.
Tranexamic acid is an amazing acid, because of what it does, and because it is gentle. Melasma is notoriously hard to treat, and tranexamic acid seems to be giving a good solution for it so far when combined with other modalities such as laser treatments, or other skincare ingredients such as Vitamin C, kojic acid or arbutin. Most importantly, it doesn’t bite or sting like what some other skin lightening ingredients do!