Black Opal has a good history of producing well formulated skin-lightening products that contain the gold standard active ingredient, hydroquinone. The tradition continues with Even True Tonecorrect Fade Gel—an excellent skin-lightening lotion for normal to oily or combination skin.
The fragrance-free formula boosts the hydroquinone with a few plant extracts with some potentially exciting research indicating they can help lighten discolorations. That's encouraging but do keep in mind the hydroquinone is the sure bet here, assuming over-the-counter strengths of hydroquinone work for you.
Remember, as with any skin-lightening product, when fighting dark spots, daily sun protection is a must. Even if you have naturally dark skin or tan easily, you will see minimal to no lightening from a product like this if you don't also apply, without fail, a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 15 or greater (and when dark spots are the concern, greater is better).
The claims mention that this product also fades post-acne marks, which it does if you have a darker skin tone. With darker skin tones, melanin (skin pigment, which is what hydroquinone acts on) is a larger part of the inflammatory process of breakouts. It's part of the process for lighter skin tones, too, but because lighter skin tones have less melanin, marks from past breakouts tend to be pink to red rather than tan to brown. Hydroquinone helps fade excess melanin production, so it should help fade its presence in these post-breakouts marks as well as brown spots from sun damage.
For some reason, this gel is tinted with cosmetic pigments, including mica, which imparts shine. That's not a bad thing, it's just unusual and unnecessary.
Note: Because this skin lightener is packaged in a clear bottle, it is imperative that you store it in a cool, dark place. Light exposure (such as from sitting on a bathroom counter in a room with natura light) will cause the hydroquinone to turn brown and become less effective.
- Contains hydroquinone, the gold standard ingredient to lighten dark spots due to sun damage or melasma.
- Inexpensive, fragrance-free formula.
- Contains some plant extracts which may also contribute to lightening dark spots.
- Helps fade dark marks from past breakouts, too.
Lightweight nighttime gel-serum contains a proprietary blend of hydroquinone and targeted natural extracts such as licorice, turmeric and glucosamine. Its triple-action formula effectively fades dark spots, diminishes past acne scars and targets the root cause of hyperpigmentation working to inhibit the reoccurrence of dark spots and discoloration.
Active Ingredient: Hydroquinone 2.00%; Inactive Ingredients: Water, Propylene Glycol, Carbomer, Sodium Palmitoyl Proline, Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract, Glycerin, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Algae Extract, Yeast Extract, Glucosamine HCL, Urea, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Sodium Sulfite, Sodium Metabisulfite, Butylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Polysorbate 20, Benzophenone-4, EDTA, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Sodium Hydroxide, Caramel, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides.
If Black Opal believes their skin-care products are "what looking beautiful is all about," then this is not a line to be trusted. Creating cosmetics that cater to the needs of African-American women doesn't have to involve a profusion of seriously irritating or, in the case of the sunscreens, seriously incomplete, products. In fact, aside from the name and the somewhat minimal use of African botanicals, nothing about these products is unique to the needs of African-American skin tones. Moreover, no matter what your skin color may be, the basic and enhanced needs of skin remain the same: a gentle cleanser, effective exfoliant, sunscreen, and where and if needed, a moisturizer, all in stable packaging so the products can be effectively loaded with antioxidants and ingredients that mimic the structure and function of healthy skin.
African-American skin tones are not without their unique problems, which mostly have to do with pigmentation. But other skin tones, whether related to people of Asian, Latin-American, Caucasian, or other descent, also have to deal with pigmentation problems and uneven skin tones. Even supposing that African-American skin tones do have distinctive needs not shared by any other skin tone, Black Opal isn't the answer, especially considering that the research agrees that is not the case for day-to-day cosmetic care (Sources: Cutis, December 2006, pages 2–19 Supplemental; and Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, June 2003, pages 139–142 Supplemental). In fact, this line has so many problematic or shortsighted products they raise more questions than they have answers for!
Surprisingly, Black Opal was developed with the consultation of the African-American dermatologist Dr. Cheryl Burgess. Either the formulators behind this line didn't heed her advice or Dr. Burgess isn't informed about how cosmetic ingredients, particularly irritating ones, work on skin, not to mention the need for reliable UVA protection—fundamental information every dermatologist should not only be preaching but also practicing themselves.
For more information about Black Opal, call BioCosmetic Research Labs at 1-800-774-3477 or visit www.blackopalbeauty.com.
Black Opal Makeup
Black Opal's makeup has seen its prominence dwindle in comparison to other, seemingly lesser-known makeup lines catering to African-American skin tones. The fact that Beyoncé Knowles is a spokeswoman for L'Oreal, Halle Berry represents Revlon, and Queen Latifah appears in ads for Cover Girl, probably has something to do with the smaller market share for this once respectable line. Celebrities selling products is big business, and there is no doubt the aforementioned women are admired by women of all ethnicities. Although the major players' ads have increased awareness of these lines for African-American women, Black Opal has continued to offer the same basic assortment of products reviewed in a previous edition of Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me. Almost without exception, their newer items are disappointing, particularly for eyeshadows, pencils, and lip gloss (really).
The one area where Black Opal makes the grade is with its foundations and powders. The foundations offer some authentic shades suitable for women of color, though the formulas tend to be lackluster or, at the very least, not as elegant as what competing lines offer. There's still reason to seek out and shop this line, but based on an overview of the current Black Opal lineup, we think Beyoncé, Halle, and Queen Latifah made smart decisions!