Understanding Skin Brightening

Because there are so many misunderstandings and misconceptions about the subject of skin brightening and the skincare products that are intended and designed to brighten one’s complexion, it’s worth taking a more in-depth look at skin brightening.

Skin Brightening Defined

Although close in meaning, there are three words that are often used when talking about this desired appearance – brighter, lighter, and whiter. The differences in meaning may be subtle.

  • Brightening – making the complexion appear more radiant, healthy, youthful, and glowing, free from a build-up of dead cells and other debris, but more akin to its original colour and tone, before subsequent exposure to sunlight and skin conditions which leave marks on the skin’s surface (or its deeper layers).
  • Lightening – a gradual transformation of the skin to a lighter, paler tone. This is a process that may nowadays be accomplished through regular use of a sufficiently gentle skin brightening product.
  • Whiteners – in South Africa, some 40 odd years ago, extremely harsh skin whiteners or lighteners were sold over-the-counter to persons who desperately wanted pale skin, as close to white as possible. These old-fashioned whitening preparations often contained very harsh bleaching agents and other ingredients, such as hydroquinone, that irritated, inflamed, stung, and sometimes burned sensitive facial skin, causing damage, dark marks, hyperpigmentation, and unsightly patches that were possibly irreversible.


 Typical skin whitening products limit the skin’s ability to produce melanin, which is the natural substance made by the skin to give it its colour. The more melanin your skin produces or contains, the darker your skin will be. Increased melanin production is the skin’s natural defence against damaging UV rays, but this may occur in patches too – hyperpigmentation marks or age spots, which are extremely resistant to various lightening treatments.

Hydroquinone is a skin lightening ingredient that reduces melanin production (making skin paler) during the use of products in which it’s included. Hydroquinone was found to be effective in reducing the appearance of hard-to-treat hyperpigmentation blemishes, and it’s also known by a number of different names:

  • 1,4-Benzenedoil
  • Quinol
  • Benzene-4
  • 4-Diol
  • p-Diphenol
  • p-Dihydroxl benzene
  • Hydrochinone
  • p-Hydroxylphenol
  • Hydrochinonium
  • Hydroquinol
  • Tequinol

However, the use of hydroquinone-containing products was banned in Europe because one of its side effects is an increase in the likelihood of developing skin cancer, because of the reduction of protective melanin, as well as other visibly damaging side effects to the skin. Because of this, hydroquinone has been banned in over-the-counter cosmetic products in South Africa since 1992. Despite being banned, skincare products containing hydroquinone can still be found throughout the country with relative ease.

Papillon’s Skin Brightening Solution

The fundamental objective of modern, good-quality brightening products, such as Papillon’s Skin Brightening Cream, is the transformation of dull, worn-looking, tired, and uneven skin tone to a radiant, refreshed, luminous, even-toned, and brightly beautiful, healthy, more youthful visage. All of this is achieved without the use of hydroquinone in our Skin Brightening Cream.

Do and Don’t 

  • Do not use our Papillon Skin Brightening Cream with any other brighteners/lighteners, since active ingredients may counteract one another or achieve the opposite effect – darkening skin.
  • Do use our product, loaded with effective, natural alpine plant extracts to even out skin tone, reduce the colour intensity of hyper-pigmented marks and brighten your complexion naturally.
  • Do protect your skin against sun exposure.

It is always a good idea to make use of skincare products and treatments that form part of the same manufacturer’s range. You’ll find everything you and your skin needs – naturally – at Papillon.

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