But, unless you've got a PhD in Chemistry (and if you do, congrats, that must have been really hard) it can be tricky to decipher what all these ingredients really do – and whether your skincare routine could actually benefit from having them brought to the party.
This time round: it's the turn of tranexamic acid. This is a potent active ingredient that can help boost your glow and lessen pigmentation problems. But is it for you? We gathered up our skincare experts and quick-fire quizzed them on everything you need to know.
From how often you're meant to use it to the benefits it can have on your skin, consider this your crib-sheet on everything you need to know about tranexamic acid…
What is tranexamic acid?
'Tranexamic acid (also known as TXA) is an anti-inflammatory ingredient which inhibits the transfer of pigment to the surface of the skin from the melanocyte cell to the epidermis,' says Dr Howard Murad, pharmacist, dermatologist and founder of Murad Skincare.
Name rings a bell? Traditionally tranexamic acid was a drug used in surgery to stem bleeding. You might recognise tranexamic acid as a prescription drug used to regulate and lighten heavy periods during menstruation.
'Recent studies (2014 onwards) also show positive impact on melasma and post inflammation hyperpigmentation and scarring,' says Mark Curry, co-founder of The INKEY List. 'In the last 18 months, tranexamic acid has spilled over from surgical prescriptions as the go-to post surgery treatment for scarring and hyper-pigmentation.'
Why is tranexamic acid gaining popularity now?
While tranexamic acid is not new in the medical world, it’s relatively new in the skincare universe. As the trend for acids in skincare continues to grow – and consumers are looking for brighter, radiant glowing skin as their beauty holy grail – it’s no surprise that this ingredient has become the latest buzzword.
TXA can be added to serums, toners and moisturisers. Unlike exfoliating hydroxy acids, tranexamic acid specifically works on pigmentation which is a key concern for many consumers— so it's an ingredient people look for to brighten skin and even skin tone.
Is tranexamic acid safe to use?
'Yes, tranexamic acid is safe to use in creams and masks at concentrations up to 3%,' explains Dimitra Davidson, President & COO of Indeed Labs. 'As always, you should consult a healthcare professional when pregnant or breastfeeding and those with sensitive skin should do a patch test beforehand.'
What does tranexamic acid do the skin?
Unlike alpha and beta hydroxy acids, TXA is a non-exfoliating acid which works on skin issues such as discolouration, dullness and pigmentation.
'Tranexamic acid mitigates the UV radiation (and induced pigmentation response) it reduces pigmentation in the skin as well as displaying anti-inflammatory effects,' explains Dr Jonquille Chantrey, Surgeon and owner of ONE Aesthetic Studio.
It’s perfect for anyone wishing to restore their natural glow or even out their skin tone. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to stop the transfer of pigmentation to the surface of the skin, TXA works to calm and soothe skin that is prone to inflammation which can in turn, lead to pigmentation. An example would be those who deal with acne.
Blemish-prone skin can often leave behind dark marks and scars from spots, but TXA can help to both prevent and treat this kind of discolouration.
Can you use tranexamic every day?
'When applied in a specific and controlled dose as a topical serum it is safe to use daily', says Dr Chantrey. As an ingredient, it can be used morning or evening.
What other ingredients can you use alongside tranexamic acid?
'One of the benefits of this active is that it pairs well with other ingredients,' says Dimitra Davidson, President & COO of Indeed Labs. 'Hyaluronic acid, vitamin c and retinol [can all be used alongside tranexamic acid]; unlike some other more harsh acids.
One caveat? 'Always be sure to wear an SPF of 30 or higher in the daytime to prevent future damage to the skin,' says Dr Murad.
The best 8 tranexamic acid products
The INKEY List Tranexamic Acid Night Treatment
This overnight treatment targets hyperpigmentation, uneven patches and dark spots. Formulated with 2% tranexamic acid, 2% acai berry extract to promote even skin tone, as well as 2% skin brightening hero vitamin C, it also boosts overall skin brightness and evens skin tone.
From the makers of Killa, Zitsticka's new Hyperfade pimple patches lighten and brighten the residual dark spot's appearance after a zit has run its course. Each patch releases brightening, regenerative ingredients (including hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, ascorbic acid and of course, tranexamic acid) which help to restoring tone and texture to the skin.
SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense Serum
Designed to be used morning and night, this potent serum helps to treat discoloured or pigmented skin and promote a bright and clear complexion. Its formula combines 5% niacinamide, 5% hepes and 1.8% tranexamic acid to target stubborn dark patches and pigmented acne scars.
Murad Replenishing Multi Acid Peel
This bi-phase exfoliating treatment is blended with tranexamic acid to smooth and brighten the skin.
FaceTheory Exaglow Serum S10
Facetheory's Exaglow serum contains tranexamic acid, stabilised vitamin C and other key actives to lighten dark spots and pigmentation and smooth rough areas, resulting in a more uniform and luminous complexion.
Beauty Pie Superdose C-Suite Power Brightener
Beauty Pie's nex-gen vitamin C serum is sandwiched with ‘super’ actives ferulic acid and tranexamic acid to help bolster its brightening action on dull, uneven, scarred, or UV-damaged skin. Use 5-6 drops post toner or lotion on a clean face, under moisturiser or sunscreen.
Algenist Blue Algae Vitamin C Dark Spot Correcting Peel
It might be pricey, but this potent peel works hard to visibly reduce dark spots and discoloration. It's formulated with patented a triple complex of AHA, BHA and PHA (including tranexamic acid) that works to resurface the texture of your skin. Expect bright, glowing skin in a matter of weeks.
Skinceuticals Advanced Brightening UV Defense SPF 50
This dual-purpose SPF contains 1% tranexamic acid, delivering a dose to help combat pigmentation while protecting the skin from light and UV damage. WH deemed it so brilliant, we gave it a 2020 Beauty Award, crowning in best SPF.
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