Use code WOMENSCONCEPTS and get 20% off on any device on MyTripollar

These Are The Best Skin Lightening Ingredients

We may include products - handpicked by our editors - that we find useful for our readers. When you buy through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The pursuit of forever even skin is omnipresent. By nature of time, dark spots, acne marks, and hyperpigmentation start to appear more and more visible, which is why many look to improve their routines with the skin lightening ingredients. Whether you were a sun worshipper or have been left with acne scars, these are the best ingredients for skin lightening that’ll do the job of brightening your complexion and evening skin tone.

Best skin lightening ingredients

Kojic acid

Kojic acid is a compound derived from mushrooms and is given the top spot on our list because of its strength and effectiveness. It works primarily by inhibiting tyrosinase production, an enzyme needed in melanin production, delivering a brighter skin tone. Y Claire Chang, MD, of Union Square Laser Dermatology, says, “anyone who wants to improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin should use kojic acid’. In addition to brightening the skin, kojic acid is also a powerful antioxidant that effectively fights free radicals, a common culprit of dark patches.

Vitamin C

We couldn’t make a list of the best skin whitening ingredients without mentioning vitamin C. It’s an all-time favorite when it comes to skin whitening and brightening ingredients. The reason for this is not farfetched; vitamin C cuts down melanin production in the skin and defends the skin from harmful UV rays, thereby preventing the formation of dark spots. On top of this, vitamin C boosts collagen production, needed for skin elasticity and firmness.


The most endearing benefit of this ingredient is that it has an excellent safety profile and is safe for most skin types.

If you are afraid of trying other skin-lightening ingredients because of the risk of side effects, then go for vitamin C. Pick a vitamin C serum and apply it once or twice per day for dramatic results. 

Alpha arbutin

Dermatologists have goaded this bearberry plant-derived ingredient as the secret to ultra-bright skin. Just like kojic acid, arbutin prevents skin discoloration by inhibiting the production of melanin in the skin. 

Alpha arbutin has many skincare benefits. These include improving uneven skin complexion and fading stubborn spots and patches. Another skin whitening benefit of alpha-arbutin is its sun protection properties. Do you often notice freckles and sunspots on your skin after spending too much time in the sun? This happens due to an enzyme called tyrosinase. This enzyme activates each time your skin comes in contact with UV light. In an attempt to protect skin from sun damage, it triggers excess melanin production, leading to a darker skin tone. Well, arbutin reduces skin darkening by preventing the production of tyrosinase.

Alpha arbutin is relatively safe as it doesn’t expose your skin to any danger by killing pigment-producing cells but gently brightens your skin by inhibiting melanin-producing cells. You can pair it with other ingredients like vitamin C and AHA for maximum effectiveness, says Ginger King, a cosmetic chemist, and president of Grace Kingdom Beauty.


Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is another of the best skin brightening ingredients, safe for all skin types. It’s a water-soluble vitamin that helps reduce aging signs and acne and keep the skin moisturized. Significantly, niacinamide facilitates skin lightening by fading out dark sports. Like kojic acid and mulberry leaf extracts, niacinamide fades dark spots by preventing pigments’ transfer within the skin. Plus, niacinamide is known to reduce the effects of sun-induced skin damage, hence fewer chances of getting hyperpigmentation. 


If your skin is always looking dry and dehydrated, you should add this ingredient to your regimen, as it has an excellent track record for improving skin hydration. Niacinamide is also known to improve the skin barrier; this puts your skin in a better position to fight off stressors and external damage that can lead to skin discoloration. P.S.: It’s a top pick for those with sensitive skin types as it has anti-inflammatory properties.

Green tea

The benefits of green tea for skin whitening have been well known for a while now. EGCG and a few other catechins present in green tea were found to depigment the skin since they can inhibit the process of melanin production by regulating tyrosinase levels. Another reason green tea works for skin whitening is that it’s rich in antioxidants.

These increase the skin’s defense against Uv damage, preventing oxidative stress, a process that leads to excess melanin production. In conclusion, by adding green tea skincare products to your regimen, you can effectively tackle the problem of skin discoloration.

Licorice extract

Licorice extract has long been used for treating different skin issues. In the late 20th century, it was discovered that licorice plants contain a certain compound (glabridin) that absorbs UV rays and is a powerful skin whitening element.

Although it may not be as popular as kojic acid, it’s gradually making its way up in the skin-lightening cadre due to its excellent results. First, it’s a powerful antioxidant that decreases reactive oxygen species, which causes premature aging, dark spots, and skin discoloration. Secondly, licorice extract brightens the skin by getting rid of excess melanin.

Mulberry leaf extract 

Rich in vitamin A, C, and E, this antioxidant has been used for centuries for its protecting and skin brightening properties. It’s another natural ingredient touted for whitening the skin without side effects.

Mulberry leaf extract not only prevents the formation of dark spots in the upper layers of your skin. Studies actually confirmed that mulberry leaf extract works by brightening the skin and fading out dark spots and discoloration. Some of the other benefits of mulberry leaf extract in skincare include skin hydration, nourishment, and barrier strengthening properties. It’s a great multitasker!

The takeaway

Achieving a brighter and more radiant skin complexion is not as difficult as it seems. Although there are many skin whitening ingredients on the market, without proper research, you could end up getting your skin damaged and compounding your skin problems. However, with the ingredients above, you can achieve that bright skin tone you’ve always longed for. Don’t forget to do a patch test of any new product on a small part of your skin to reduce your risk of side effects. 

Subscribe to our newsletter
Join Women’s Concepts community and subscribe to our newsletter to get access to exclusive content, offers, and products.
Was this article helpful?
Awesome! Would you like to share it?
That's too bad. Thank you for your feedback!
Continue Reading Below
Your Privacy
We use cookies to improve your experience on our site and to show you relevant advertising. To find out more, read our updated privacy policy.