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What is a Facial Brightener?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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A facial brightener is a product that is designed to help even skin tone, making skin appear more youthful and luminescent. Since the mid-2000s, it has become one of the leading anti-aging products on the market. It doesn’t address wrinkles, but instead is supposed to address the dulling of color, and the way that skin tends to become less reflective of light as it ages. Facial brightener should not be confused with a facial whitener, which tends to lighten skin tone and age spots through bleaching, usually with use of the chemical hydroquinone.

In the mid-2000s, beauty companies hailed the introduction of Lumedia® Facial Brightener, an 100% hydroquinone-free formula that helped to improve brightness of skin, producing a more “youthful glow.” The product was marketed specifically at women of the age of 30 or older, and is made in the US. Even though the price ticket on the Lumedia® is high, about $90 US Dollars (USD) for a three month supply, it quickly became a bestseller. Other facial brighteners soon entered the market, though Lumedia® continues to dominate.

Independent reviews of facial brightener brands do suggest they can give skin a slightly more youthful, brighter look. However, some people find that the acid content and alcohol content of facial brighteners irritates the skin. Facial brightener product packages frequently list suggestions to test the brightener on your forearm for a few days to make sure it doesn’t produce an allergic or irritated response. Most brands available are recommended for use no more than twice a day, and some people use them only once.

There are several things a facial brightener won’t do. It won’t dramatically lighten age spots or address significant discoloration under the eyes. In fact, you have to be careful when applying any facial brightener around the eyes, since most will significantly irritate the eyes. It also doesn’t reduce wrinkles or provide a lot of moisture for the skin.

Customers in independent reviews differ on how well facial brighteners work. Some claim to see wonderful results, and others feel they are ineffective. One complaint about Lumedia® is that it has a perfumed scent, and some customers switch to fragrance free formulas.

Others prefer skin lighteners or whiteners with hydroquinone, which may help better minimize age spots, and provide some skin bleaching properties. There is concern that hydroquinone may potentially be a cancer-causing agent. Its use is banned in some countries though it is available in the US. Stronger hydroquinone formulas are often available by prescription only.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
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Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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