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Glow On

What really is brightening skincare?


Wading through skincare vocab and flashy marketing terms can be tricky. Especially when similar terms are mistakenly interchanged. So today, we’re breaking down the term “brightening” skincare, specifically, how it differs from lightening/whitening.

Lightening or Whitening: The process of altering one’s complexion in the aim of reducing a pigment called melanin in the skin utilizing bleaching creams, whiteners or other harsh ingredients. It’s a practice that is rooted in ethnocentric beauty standards.

Brightening: Targeting specific areas of the skin that have produced excess melanin due to injury to the skin (like acne), hormonal changes or extended sun exposure. Brightening ingredients can support the skin’s healing and regeneration process via hydration, reducing inflammation and speeding up cellular turnover. TLDR: your glow-getters.

Our favorite brightening go-to’s, you ask?


The Wonder Worker / Tata Harper ‘Concentrated Brightening Serum – When working to reduce spots left by sun damage or melasma, we swear by this multi-targeted serum. With ingredients like Milk Thistle + Rose Damascena to help fade marks, minimize fine lines and boost hydration, it’s a super serum for all skin tones + types.

The Acne Ally / Agent Nateur ‘Holi(C)’Using a unique Vitamin C formulation via calcium + sodium ascorbyl phosphate, this powdered formula won’t oxidize and can be mixed into any water-based toner, serum or even SPF of your choice. It’s our favorite for preventing, treating and healing post-pimple scarring.

The Helpful Healer / Redoux NYC ‘Borage Ginseng Active Serum’Brightening is about healing and this hydrating face oil lives up to the task! Thick enough to be used on its own + lightweight enough to be non-clogging, it’s formulated with *ultra* replenishing oils like squalene, moringa + borage — all rich in vitamins A, C and E.

The Budget Brightener / Cocokind ‘Vitamin C Serum with Sea Grape Caviar’ –  Available at an accessible price point, this highly effective serum uses sea grape caviar + radish root ferment to fade the appearance of dark spots + support a more even complexion. Just apply 1-2 pumps post-toner and pre-moisturizer for a next level glow!


Have more brightening skincare Q’s? Book a facial with our Holistic Estheticians!

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