Though fall isn’t officially here—we’re holding on tight to the last couple weeks of summer—the pumpkin decor is lining store shelves and the Starbucks PSL is on the menu. But something not so fun that also pops up in the autumn months? Sun damage. And though it can show up on the skin in many different ways, dark spots are one of the most common signs, and one of the most frustrating effects to treat with at-home topicals. However, a buzzy ingredient called tranexamic acid is making its way into more skin-care products, and has big benefits on these small, stubborn spots. Case in point: VERSED’s new OUT OF SIGHT Dark Spot Gel, which launches for pre-order today. Here’s what we love about it, aside from the $17 price point.
But before we get into the perks, we need to understand more about dark spots, as there are many misconceptions about them. One of the biggies, according to Minneapolis dermatologist Jenny Liu, MD, is that they only occur from the sun. “They can also result from acne. Any inflammatory process, like eczema, or even a reaction to skin-care products, can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), and darker skin tones individuals are more prone,” she says. “Additionally, dark spots can take years to form, or be more recent, and some can take years to fade. Some people think exfoliation is the best treatment, and that it can work quickly, but it can take a long time, depending on the cause, as well as the individual’s skin type and tone.”
The hero ingredient in this new gel is tranexamic acid, aka TA, which is a derivative of the amino acid lysine. “The oral form has been used for years by obgyns and other specialties for the treatment of heavy periods and abnormal bleeding,” says Dr. Liu. “How tranexamic acid works for treatment of hyperpigmentation is still not fully understood, but most likely it’s through the inhibition of the UV radiation–induced plasminogen activator pathway, which plays a role in activating tyrosinase, a key enzyme in melanogenesis, along with other downstream effects. Furthermore, TA also inhibits neovascularization, which is helpful for post-inflammatory erythema, a superficial reddening of the skin.”
One super pesky form of hyperpigmentation is melasma, which this gel can also be used to help treat. “Tranexamic acid use for hyperpigmentation has been best studied for melasma, and dates back to the 1980s,” Dr. Liu explains. “Oral TA has been shown to be helpful for recalcitrant melasma, however, side effects can be serious and include risk of clotting. Topical forms have gained popularity as the initial data shows promising results with minimal systemic side effects. Most of the clinical studies on topical TA were done using a concentration of 2 to 5 percent.”
Not only is this new gel fast-absorbing and lightweight, but it also doesn’t contain hydroquinone, which has been a controversial ingredient in the skin-care world, but is proven to work well on dark spots. “Unlike hydroquinone, it doesn’t lead to a halo of lightened skin when used as a spot treatment,” says Dr. Liu. “It’s formulated with gentle ingredients that are well-tolerated overall and work over time to target all aspects of hyperpigmentation: a tyrosinase inhibitor to prevent pigment formation, anti-inflammatory botanicals, brightening kojic acid and licorice root extract, and also niacinamide to prevent transfer of pigment to keratinocytes.”
I apply it morning and evening, only to my dark spots—not all over—which is advised by the brand. And though I’ve only been using it for a couple weeks, in a user perception study, 85 percent of people—ages 18 to 70 of mixed ethnicities—agreed the product minimized the appearance of their dark spots after eight weeks of twice-daily use. I’m a fan!
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