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Skin-whitening & Protecting Agent – Skin-whitening Cosmeceuticals
In general, light skin can become darker upon exposure to sunlight, which is the primary source of ultraviolet (UV) radiation in our daily life. Upon UV exposure, reactive oxygen species (ROS) and highly volatile free radicals are provoked.
Consequently, our skin gets darkened since melanin-producing cells, or melanocytes, located in the skin’s epidermis are prone to produce more melanin in order to reduce oxidative stress and thus minimizing indirect damages of body cells.
It is acknowledged that oxidative stress plays a predominant role in skin aging as it causes the break-down of collagen, generation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, cutaneous manifestations in addition to modifications of DNA, proteins and lipids in the skin. The elevation of melanin production is actually a defense mechanism against UV radiation; however, melanin is a group of natural pigments (i.e. eumelanins, phenomelanins and neuromelanin) that give multitude of colors in our skin, i.e. from the basic skin tone to patches, birth marks, age spots, and in eyes and hair.
Generally speaking, the more melanin it makes, the darker the skin. Besides skin darkening, UV radiation may also result in deleterious biological effects as well as aesthetic problems, e.g. freckles, chloasmata, reduced elasticity, premature skin aging and even the development of skin cancer.
Most of all, facial appearance is of great significance to many individuals, including males and females. There is a conception in the general public that dark and dull skin makes people look old, depressing and disfigured; therefore, people, especially in oriental countries, are eager to maintain a fair complexion and a pleasing appearance of the integumentary system.
This is one of the major reasons why the cosmetics and personal care markets are flooded with skin-whitening and anti-aging creams and lotions. Nevertheless, many of them do not provide us with satisfactory results against photoaging and hyperpigmentation.
To this end, effective skin-lightening and skin-protecting cosmeceuticals made of Chinese Medicine-based ingredients with potent depigmentation and antioxidant properties are yet highly demanding.
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