Melasma is a skin pigmentation disorder characterized by darker areas of the skin that are difficult to fade and often reappear after treatment. The exact mechanism through which these dark spots come to exist isn’t fully known, which makes it more difficult to treat, but some key factors that have been proven to worsen this condition are solar radiation, hormones and genetic factors. Many melasma treatments target the activity of the melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing the dark pigment called melanin, but since the 1980’s it has been reported that tranexamic acid has clear benefits on skin pigmentation that derive from a different mechanism.
Tranexamic acid – how does it work?
Tranexamic acid has been used for decades to treat coagulation disorders, but since the 80s studies have shown that this ingredient, taken orally or applied on the skin, has clear benefits in melasma and other hyperpigmentation disorders like post-inflammatory pigmentation. Topically, this ingredient is also suitable for those who suffer from rosacea and atopic dermatitis, two disorders which usually mean that the products tolerated by the skin are very restricted.
So, how does it work? The melanocyte, the cell which produces the pigment, needs to be activated in order to produce melanin. These cells are usually activated by the Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone (MSH), and this is where tranexamic acid enters the scene. This ingredient helps to reduce a cascade of events which end in the MSH being produced, meaning that fewer melanocytes will be activated and produce melanin. Less melanin means that fewer cells will be darker than they should, which means that the dark spots will start to fade because less cells have been tinted by the pigment. This process of fading the spots takes around 3 months to be effective, but the results start to be visible after 4 weeks.
Tranexamic acid also reduces vascularization, meaning that it is ideal for post-inflammatory pigmentation, as redness is reduced and the capillary vessels and erythema are decreased.
Should I switch to tranexamic acid?
As we’ve explained before, tranexamic acid works by decreasing the activation of melanocytes, not their activity likes other bleaching treatments. This means that tranexamic acid is the ideal ingredient to complement your routine, boosting the effectiveness of other depigmenting agents, as you will be targeting different mechanisms that lead to the formation of the dark spot.
It will also be the best ingredient for those who usually suffer from redness and have a hard time finding a bleaching treatment that is compatible with their sensitive skin, as tranexamic acid also helps to reduce rosacea symptoms and eczema.
Keep posted for our recommendations of products which contain this fabulous ingredient!
Head of Content at Care to Beauty