Whitening versus Brightening: Making it Clear

One of the biggest questions and concerns we get regarding many of the K-beauty products in the cosmetics world has to do with the “whitening” products that come out of Korea. For many people in the United States, the use of this term can be an immediate turn off when it comes to benefits and desires of achievement in skin care products and makes many think of the idea of bleaching the skin. However, we decided it may be beneficial to make it clear on these products that provide “whitening” benefits.

The true meaning of whitening really has to do with evening skin pigmentation, fading discoloration from dark spots and acne scars, and brightening. So, unlike it seems to state, the effects of the whitening products don’t necessarily mean to create a whiter, paler look. The desire to even out skin tone is the basis for these products, from fading dark spots due to sun exposure, acne scars or other pigmentation issues, to simply brightening lackluster or dull skin tones to give off that widely known quintessential k-beauty glow.

And to the idea that k-beauty is promoting the bleaching of skin? Not the case. “The term has definitely gotten lost in translation,” says Miko Kuo, President of USA Cosmetics, Inc. “In the American language it has given the wrong perception of bleaching. But in East Asia, they don’t even think about that word; it simply means brighter, more even skin tone.” Consider “whitening” to be synonymous with radiance, brightening, luminous, and other glowing-like descriptors.

If the idea of brightening your complexion and evening out your skin tone from previous damage, be sure to read labels for these common ingredients used in Korean skin care products:

The above ingredients work to alleviate hyper-pigmentation, a.k.a. dark spots, that then results in one cohesive skin tone, as well as helps to provide a glow and brightening effect. Niacinamide does this by slowing the transfer of melanin to skin’s surface; antioxidants in Vitamin C help to fight free radicals and damage caused by UV rays; Snail filtrate contains allantoin, proteins, collagen, elastin, and glycolic acid, all known to help aid anti-aging quests by smoothing and healing skin, thus giving a brightening effect; and BHA (beta hydroxy acids) and AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) are exfoliators that loosen the skin bonds that allow dead and dull skin to sit on its surface, to then reveal more even and smoother skin and tone.

Want more? Be sure to check out these products that will be sure to help you achieve that K-beauty glow, without going pale!

AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner
Advanced Snail 92 All in one Cream

PHA Moisture Renewal Power Cream

Low pH BHA Overnight Mask