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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Snow white, snow bright

A look at the latest whitening products that promise radiant skin from inside out
The Straits Times - April 8, 2013
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Snow white, snow bright

Instead of just zapping dark spots at their source, beauty brands are covering all bases when it comes to their skin brighteners.

For example, Clarins' new six-piece White Plus Total Luminescent line promises healthy-looking and translucent skin by working on three levels: It hydrates the skin's surface with hyaluronic acid; regulates melanin production with extracts from the herbs sandspurry and alchemilla; and boosts blood circulation in the deeper layer of skin with gingko biloba.

"Our scientists have discovered that healthy cells on every level of the skin are like micro-mirrors that can reflect light and make the skin glow," says

Ms Brenda Loke, Clarins' marketing manager. "So we are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to whitening."

The French brand's previous brightening range contains sea lily and raspberry extracts, which mainly inhibit the production of melanin and prevent the pigments from surfacing on the skin.

Shiseido's new Revital Vital-Perfection Science Serum AAA Whitening, too, promises to "capture light" on the skin by firming and reducing the yellowish dullness in it, besides getting rid of dark spots.

The last version of the serum did not have the technology to target yellowing skin, says Ms Iris Chai, Shiseido's assistant brand manager.

"Put simply, light reflects better off a smooth surface such as re-texturised skin. Just like how a balloon looks shiny and reflects light because of its smooth surface," she adds.

Increasingly, the line between whitening products and anti-ageing ones is blurring too. Some anti-ageing products now come with whitening properties and vice versa.

Ms Irene Goh, general manager of L'Oreal Singapore's luxury division, says: "The concept of whitening has evolved beyond just skin fairness to overall radiance and a glowing, more even skin tone."

There is also a bumper crop of new whitening eye creams this year, now that most brands have all the other parts of the face covered.

At least four brands have revamped their brightening potions or come up with new ones for the peepers.

For example, Laneige has just launched its White Plus Renew Eye Cream that supposedly brightens the area around the eyes, while improving blood circulation and masking imperfections with light-scattering particles.

La Prairie's new White Caviar Illuminating Eye Cream is said to target the accumulation of melanin and reduce water retention in the delicate eye area.

Diorsnow also has a reformulated White Reveal Illuminating Eye Treatment which smoothes, hydrates, brightens and evens out the eye contour areas.

As more women realise that pigmentation is one of the first signs of skin deterioration, the brightening skincare category continues to grow steadily, especially in Asia.

Ms Rachel Lin, a senior research analyst at market research firm, Euromonitor International, says skin whitening products accounted for about 30 per cent of the facial skincare market here last year. This translates to more than $100 million in sales.

Between 2008 and last year, the category recorded a double-digit growth annually, she adds.

No wonder whitening products are a key segment for many beauty brands.

At Kose, for example, brightening skincare formed 42 per cent of its business in Singapore last year.

At Shiseido, the category accounts for 30 per cent of the business here.

Ms Evelyn Tan, Biotherm's marketing manager, says it is a no-brainer that whitening products will continue to be an essential part of Singapore women's beauty regimen.

"Given Singapore's location, we cannot escape the sun. This means there is a constant need for UV protection and skin brightening products to protect and prevent uneven skin tone and ageing."

While the first signs of ageing in a Caucasian woman are dryness and wrinkles, Asian women get dark spots, dullness and a yellowish tone in their skin, especially once they hit their 30s.

Thus Ms Chai of Shiseido says skin whitening will always be a top concern for Asian women, who equate bright and clear skin with youthfulness.

Ms Lin of Euromonitor adds that the popularity of South Korean pop stars, who are known for their fair skin that looks flawless even under merciless high-definition cameras, is also driving the trend.


Blooming beauty