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Achieving an Even Skin Tone

By: Katerina Steventon, PhD
Posted: April 27, 2012, from the May 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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New anti-aging skin care products must focus on both textural and color features of the skin, as skin color has been shown to play an important role in the perception of youth and attractiveness. In product development, it is important to consider that short-term brightening skin care products like spot treatments, peels, exfoliators and masks require higher levels of active ingredients to achieve efficacy. Daily use moisturizers to even skin tone, however, must employ the correct levels of actives to lighten skin while not negatively impacting the skin barrier function. In the clinical tests described, typical levels ranged from just 0.5–6%. 

As for the actives used, consumers are divided on preferences of their sources. Consumers looking for an instant result prefer pharmaceutical actives in high concentrations. Others favor natural ingredients that are sustainably sourced, as aging to them is a natural process and they do not have serious skin concerns.10


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  2. PJ Matts, B Fink, K Grammer and M Burquest, Color homogeneity and visual perception of age, health, and attractiveness of female facial skin, J Am Acad Dermatol 57(6) 977–984 (2007)
  3. Defining issues: Changing the tone of skin science, Procter & Gamble, available at (Accessed Apr 13, 2012)
  4. DL Robinson et al, Reduction in the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation by topical N-acetyl glucosamine, J Cosmet Dermatol 6(1) 20–26 (2007)
  5. AB Kimball et al, Reduction in the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation after use of moisturizers with a combination of topical niacinamide and N-acetyl glucosamine: Results of a randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled trial, Br J Dermatol 162(2) 435–441 (2010)
  6. T Hakozaki et al, The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer, Br J Dermatol 147(1) 20–31 (2002)
  7. 21 CFR Part 310, US FDA, Federal Register, available at (Accessed Apr 13, 2012)
  8. J Tiedke et al, Citroflavonoid anti-ageing complex fades age spots and gives skin tone a youthful citrus boost, Cosmetic Science Technology 13–17 (2011)
  9. C Broomhead, Forever young: The holy grail of cosmetics, presentation, SCS Formulate 46 (2011)
  10. P Kondhia, Estée Lauder launches anti-aging cream specifically targeting European women, available at (Accessed Apr 13, 2012)

Katerina Steventon, PhD, of FaceWorkshops, is an independent consultant to the skin care industry and the general public. She holds a doctorate in transdermal absorption and has more than 20 years of experience in skin research at companies, including Shiseido, Juvena/LaPrairie, and Smith and Nephew Wound Management. Her consultancy provides objective recommendations to consumers on personalized skin care routines and facial treatments, and her column, “Consumer Perspective,” will provide readers with unique insight on this commercial/scientific interface.