Spreading Clean Beauty

In the wake of Black Lives Matter, we need to rethink skin lightening claims

This year, the Black Lives Matter movement rocked political establishments all over the world. Arguably, we are witnessing a seismic cultural shift where society is taking some of the most significant steps towards inclusivity, diversity, and empowerment in decades. As the beauty and personal care industry should play an important role in promoting positivity and individuality, it is essential that it substantially realigns its approach to issues like skin lightening.

Beauty needs to strive to be inclusive, diverse, and skin-positive to remain relevant. Moreover, according to a poll conducted by Yubo, 90% of American Gen Zers support the Black Lives Matter movement, so it is essential that the industry calibrates itself to meet these new, socially-conscious mindsets. This means re-thinking how we meet beauty concerns like hyperpigmentation, reframing skin lightening to deliver a more inclusive message.

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Skin lightening is out, brightening is in

This move towards a more diverse beauty industry is highlighted by recent trends. Now, skin lightening claims are shunned by consumers and discouraged by regulators: many of these products have been shown to be unhealthy, or in some cases, even dangerous. Recently, the Rwandan government removed an astonishing 1,343 skin lightening products from store shelves due to their toxic content (Mintel, 2018).

Now, women search for brands that cater to many different skin tones. Instead of lighter skin, women want brighter skin: this means even-toned, glowing, and healthy. This is reflected in consumer behavior; in the US 43% of women aged 18-24 cite brightening benefits as most important when selecting beauty products (Mintel, 2020).

Thus, products that treat conditions like hyperpigmentation should act on the scientific basis of an uneven, dull skin tone. It’s been long-established that one of the principal actors in hyperpigmentation is the enzyme tyrosinase, which is a key factor in the hyperstimulation of human melanocytes. Therefore, tyrosinase inhibiting ingredients like kojic acid or arbutin can create a product that promotes a brighter, more even complexion – however, some of these ingredients have been shown to have downsides.

Healthy and natural skin brightening

Certainly, it is essential to promote the scientific basis for products with skin brightening claims. Right now, 85% of Indonesian consumers trust beauty and personal care products created with scientifically proven ingredients (Mintel, 2020). However, considering the toxicity previously associated with skin lightening claims, beauty brands should look to nature for effective brightening solutions. 

For instance, Provital developed Melavoid™ from an extract of Boerhaavia diffusa root, standardized in boeravinones. In in vitro studies, it was found that Melavoid™ caused a significant decrease in the melanin/total protein ratio in cell cultures after nine days of incubation with the active ingredient. These ratios are very similar to those obtained with the positive control, kojic acid, under the same conditions.

Although ingredients like kojic acid have been shown to be effective, there is one important thing to note here: kojic acid caused a decrease in the amount of protein in the cultures, which implies a toxic effect on cells. The reduction was 11% at six days of incubation, and 26% after nine days. In contrast, Melavoid™ did not cause any

protein reduction, recording cell viability practically equal to that of the control culture. This shows us that Melavoid™ is capable of achieving the same melanin decrease as kojic acid, but without affecting melanocyte viability.

A new approach to evening skin tone

The Black Lives Matter movement has shown that diversity and inclusivity is one of the most important aspects of our current cultural Zeitgeist. Consumers are taking a more enlightened approach to issues around skin bleaching or skin lightening, and now, embracing your natural skin tone is the priority.

o address common beauty concerns like hyperpigmentation, brands need to realign their messaging and look to nature for inspiration. With actives like Melavoid™ – whose smart depigmenting action triggers a greater decrease of pigmentation intensity in the hyper-pigmented area (spots) than in normal skin – brands can redefine skin lightening for a new era. 

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