Beauty 101

Whitening vs Brightening vs Lightening

Rachel Gibbons Beauty Expert
Whitening vs Brightening vs Lightening

You may hear the words brightening, whitening and lightening tossed about in the skincare world with numerous brands claiming their products contain these 3 magical properties. But are these terms interchangeable with each other? Let's find out!


Brightening means to rejuvenate your skin and give it a glow through removing dead and dull skin cells, allowing your skin to be radiant. Ensure you choose products containing Vitamin C, Retinol or AHAs. Your skin can become brighter on a permanent basis if you incorporate products with these ingredients on a daily basis consistently.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

This toning solution is your gateway to radiant and brighter looking skin. Formulated with 7% glycolic acid, amino acids, aloe vera, ginseng and tasmanian pepperberry. Glycolic Acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that exfoliates the skin. This 7% toning solution offers mild exfoliation for improved skin radiance and visible clarity. The formula also improves the appearance of skin texture with continued use. Enhanced with Tasmanian pepperberry derivative to help reduce irritation associated with acid use. Tasmanian pepperberry varies in colour depending on the season and this colour variation may be apparent in the formula from time to time. Further supported with ginseng root and allow vera for both visible radiance and soothing benefits.

The INKEY List Vitamin C Serum

A serum containing vitamin C is a powerful, multi-functional antioxidant and skin brightening ingredient. It helps to tackle the appearance of hyperpigmentation, dullness and fine lines.Formulated with 30% pure L-ascorbic Acid, this serum helps your skin appear brighter and targets signs of aging. It also helps to protect against free radicals and pollution.


Lightening means to reduce discolouration and hyper pigmentation by evening out your skin tone to fade unwanted blemishes and dark spots arising from acne or sun damage. Ingredients such as Vitamin C, Alpha Arbutin and Retinol helps to reduce melanin in your skin which is what gives your skin its pigment. Prevention is easier than correction so try using these products to help you avoid pigmentation before it starts. Lightening is not a permanent solution so ensure you are constantly applying these ingredients!

COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All in One Cream

A deeply nourishing formula that works to fight signs of ageing.Fortified with 92% Snail Secretion Filtrate, Korea's best kept beauty secret, Helps to lighten acne scars and dark spots to reveal even, moisturised and hydrated skin.

The INKEY List C-50 Blemish Night Treatment

This The INKEY List C-50 Blemish Night Treatment works hard to treat blemishes and prevent future breakouts. It helps to fight off blemish causing bacteria. It minimises skin’s excess oil production, and also has anti inflammatory and anti redness properties, whilst evening skin tone.An overnight mask that minimises existing and prevents potential breakouts


Whitening means to chemically bleach your skin to lighten your actual skin tone. This is the most aggressive method of melanin reduction as it strips the skin of it and it can be very dangerous as it may involve applying poisonous ingredients such as mercury and hydroquinone, thus making it a highly controversial topic. Whitening may also cause sensitivity to sunlight as well as extra dryness and redness. Whitening is not a permanent solution as if you stop applying whitening products, the results will vanish in a mere few weeks.

Sakura White Whitening Serum Cream SPF30 is enriched with Sakura Extract - a unique ingredient from Japan, this delicate pinkish cream with a blend of Sakura Extracts, Vitamin B3 and Vitamin CG nourishes skin deeply and helps lighten skin tone and dark spots, refine skin texture and smoothen pores.

Hada Labo Premium Whitening Mask

Hada Labo Premium Whitening Mask is enriched with multiple intensive brightening ingredients to fight dark spots, relieve visible redness and rebalance skin tone. Also helps to improve skin dullness and brighten skin leaving skin perfectly luminous and translucent with natural radiance. Contains high purity Arbutin and Vitamin C to improve skin's radiance and visibly awakens dull skin for brighter skin complexion. With 3 types of Hyaluronic Acid to improve intense and long lasting hydration. Skin pH balanced. Low irritation. Free of colorant, fragrances and minineral oil.

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