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For decades vitamin C, alpha arbutin, kojic acid, glutathione and licorice extract has been used to address issues of hyperpigmentation such as melasma, leftover acne scars, and skin discolorations. Now the good news is, one other skincare ingredient has joined the league, all thanks to skincare scientists for this discovery. And this powerful skin depigmenting ingredient is called Tranexamic Acid — known as the newest skin brightening ingredient in town. Keep reading to know more about tranexamic acid for skin.
What is Tranexamic Acid?
To shed more light, Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist at Skin55 and author of The Skincare Bible, explains tranexamic acid as an old drug with a relatively new use in the world of dermatology and skincare. “Over the past few years, it keeps coming up time and time again in dermatology meetings on the subject of pigmentation, in particular melasma”.
Apart from topical usage for its skin benefits, tranexamic acid is also a drug used to treat heavy bleeding during your menstrual period. Tranexamic acid works by slowing the breakdown of blood clots, which helps to prevent prolonged bleeding. It belongs to a class of drugs known as antifibrinolytics.
What Are The Benefits Of Tranexamic Acid & How Does It Work On The Skin.
Tranexamic acid is synthetically derived from the amino acid lysine. Lysine is an amino acid (a building block of protein). Unlike some other amino acids, the human body cannot make lysine; therefore it must be eaten in the diet. Sources of lysine include meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and some plants such as soy and other legumes.
Tranexamic acid being a synthetic derivative of amino acid lysine helps tackles skin pigmentations via topical application by Inhibiting melanocytes, thereby curbing excess production of melanin. This ingredient has been shown to diminish the appearance of discoloration and improve stubborn brown patches.
It provides a powerful and specific anti-inflammatory action, inhibiting the tyrosinase synthesis in melanocytes. At the same time it blocks the transfer of pigment from melanocytes to keratinocytes in the epidermis. Tranexamic acid also calms the skin and helps restore the skin barrier.
Tranexamic acid stops the uptake of the pigment producing cells into the upper layers of the skin and works well alongside other pigment regulators. It is well tolerated topically with a low side effect profile making it a popular choice’, explains Dr. Ifeoma Ejikeme, Consultant Physician and founder of Adonia Medical Clinic.
In a research study that was carried out according to the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki and was approved by the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine Ethics Committee, subjected 84 patients with melasma to Tranexamic acid treatment which proved effective on melasma as the color and area of the skin lesions improved significantly after treatment on 81 patients, the remaining 3 patients failed to finish the study.
A few studies have found that tranexamic acid at 3-5% is as effective at fading melasma as 2-4% hydroquinone, with fewer side effects. Injections of tranexamic acid into the dermal layer of the skin has also been found to work for melasma too.
There are a few studies where tranexamic acid faded hyperpigmentation when combined with other ingredients known to fade skin discoloration (kojic acid, niacinamide, alpha arbutin), but in these few studies none was tranexamic acid used alone. [1, 2, 3]
As days goes by, new skincare ingredients as being discovered to tackle numerous skin issues and these is of great advantage to we-skincare-lovers, as it gives us multiple alternative to navigate between skincare ingredients to tackle some specific skin issues. So, in a nutshell, tranexamic acid helps get rid or lessen the appearance of stubborn skin pigmentation or discoloration issues — melasma, acne scars and age spots.
Does Tranexamic Acid Suit All Skin Types?
Unlike other skin depigmenting skincare ingredients that increases skin sensitivity while in action, tranexamic acid doesn’t, which makes it suitable for all skin types. You don’t have to worry about skin sensitivity while using tranexamic acid based products, it is said that tranexamic acid decreases the skin’s sensitivity to UV – no wonder why the ingredient is so popular in Asia and India. But of course you have to use sunscreen while using tranexamic acid to protect your skin from sun exposure as tranexamic acid can never replace sunscreen. However endeavor to do a patch test prior to usage to test for allergy.
Side Effects of Tranexamic Acid.
Irrespective of the fact that tranexamic acid is safe for most skin types, it’s always important to consult with a board-certified dermatologist before incorporating a new ingredient into your skincare routine. There is no registered side effect of tranexamic acid, however, irritations may occur if the ingredients isn’t compatible with your skin, especially for those with very sensitive skin, as all skin differs, so shall results differ too.
How to Use Tranexamic Acid.
Apply topically on your skin, while targeting the most affected areas. Tranexamic acid come in serums and moisturizers depending on personal preference, but serums are more potent. Tranexamic acid can be used twice daily, but we advice starting with once per day application to see how it reacts with your skin. Tranexamic acid also works well with any skincare ingredients.
Best Products With Tranexamic Acid.
1. Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Niacinamide Discoloration Treatment.
Cream with the blend of powerhouse of 15% skin brightening ingredients — niacinamide, tranexamic acid, kojic acid, alpha arbutin and pentapeptide to tackle pigmentary issues suchlike dark spots (dark circles around the eyes), melasma, left over acne scars and age spots for a brighter, even-toned skin.
2. SkinCeuticals Advanced Brightening UV Defense SPF50 Moisturizer.
This dual-purpose SPF contains 1% tranexamic acid, delivering a dose to help combat pigmentation while protecting the skin from light and UV damage.
3. The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment – Best Overall.
The Inkey List took a baby step into the beauty industry and have since then gained massive recognition and trust from dedicated skincare lovers due to their product transparency and quality. Their tranexamic acid formula is no different. It’s a blend of 2% tranexamic acid, 2% acai berry extract and 2% ascorbyl glucosid — a vitamin C derivative to target and tackle melasma and hyperpigmentation. Formula feels super hydrating on the skin, light-weight and absorbs quickly into the skin leaving no residue behind. And oh, it’s very wallet-friendly. Read the full review here.
4. Good Molecules Discoloration Correction Serum.
A potent formula to zap hyperpigmentation, it amalgamates 2% tranexamic acid derivatives (Cetyl tranexamate mesylate) known to penetrate the skin deeper (than tranexamic acid itself), alongside 4% niacinamide for optimum result towards fading discoloration. Read the full review here.
5. Naturuim Tranexamic Topical Acid 5%.
A potent tranexamic acid formula at 5%, paired with three hyperpigmentation-hitting ingredients, kojic acid, niacinamide and licorice extract which work synergistically to help fade the look of dark spots and hyperpigmentation, revitalizing your skin’s luminosity for a healthy and glowing looking skin.
6. Murad Replenishing Multi Acid Peel.
This exfoliating treatment is blended with tranexamic acid to smooth and brighten the skin. This replenishing multi-acid skin exfoliating treatment is potent, yet gentle for everyday use, as it helps accelerates cell renewal, while nourishing skin to prevent dryness and reduce irritation.
Possible Questions & Answers.
Q: Does tranexamic acid treat existing pigmentation?
A: Yes it does. Tranexamic acid can treat existing pigmentation effectively as it stops the uptake of the pigment producing cells into the upper layers of the skin and works well alongside other pigment regulators.
Q: Is tranexamic acid safe to use everyday?
A: Research has shown that tranexamic acid is safe when applied to skin every day for several months. Topical concentrations between 2-5% typically shows results after two to three months of once-or twice-daily usage.
Q: Can pregnant or nursing mothers use tranexamic acid?
A: If you’re pregnant or a nursing mum, consult your board-certified dermatologist before incorporating tranexamic acid into your skincare routine.
Q: Does tranexamic acid conflict with any skincare ingredients?
A: Tranexamic acid works well with any skincare ingredients, examples such as vitamin C, SPF, hyaluronic acid, retinol. However, don’t use tranexamic acid with multiple acids, stick to only using it with one or two others to avoid dryness.
Q: What are other ways Tranexamic acid can be taken?
A: Aside from topically applying tranexamic acid on your skin as a cream or serum, you can also take tranexamic acid orally as a tablet, or have it injected into the lower layers of your skin (the dermis).
For decades, oral tranexamic acid has been used for reducing bleeding, in situations like heavy menstrual periods, nosebleeds and surgery. In the last 5-10 years, dermatologists have also started using tranexamic acid for pigmentation disorders, especially melasma.
Q: Can oral tranexamic treat melasma?
A: Oral tranexamic acid is effective for treating melasma and other pigmentary issues. It’s generally taken at a dose of 250 to 1500 mg daily, for 8 to 12 weeks. It has few side effects (mostly digestive ones, it could potentially increase the risk of blood clots and interfer with your menstrual cycle by causing reduced menstrual flow). We strongly advise if you must use oral tranexamic acid endeavor to speak with your doctor regarding your intended approach.
Irrespective oral tranexamic acid fades melasma, it isn’t so effective on other types of hyperpigmentation. In a research study, tranexamic acid had almost no effect on freckles and age spots.