La Roche-Posay
Mela-D Bright
1 fl. oz. for $45
Category:Skin Care > Retinol Products > Lighteners Without Hydroquinone
Last Updated:08.16.2011
Jar Packaging:False
Tested on animals:Yes

This skin-lightening product is La Roche-Posay’s solution to improving discolorations without using hydroquinone despite the fact that it is the most effective ingredient for that purpose available. The problem is that hydroquinone has become controversial and is now banned in many countries (for more information on hydroquinone, please refer to the Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary on this site). Instead of hydroquinone, this light-textured treatment product contains a blend of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and kojic acid. Both have research proving their effectiveness for lightening hyperpigmentation, although both also have issues of stability and the pure form of vitamin C can be irritating due to its acid component. (Sources: Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, August 2002, pages 1045–1048; Analytical Biochemistry, June 2002, pages 260–268; Cellular Signaling, September 2002, pages 779–785; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, September–October 2000, pages 261–268; Archives of Pharmacal Research, August 2001, pages 307–311; and Dermatologic Surgery, July 2005, pages 814–817). Although these ingredients do have potential as skin-lightening agents, concentration is directly related to efficacy, and that’s where this product is questionable. It is likely that even when combined, the amounts of kojic and ascorbic acids in this product may not be enough to have a significant effect on hyperpigmentation. However, the only way to know for sure (because the company certainly won’t divulge the percentages) is to give this product a try (keeping in mind that no skin lightening product can work without the diligent, daily use of a well-formulated sunscreen). It is best for normal to dry skin.


Mela-D Bright is a daily skincare moisturizer for the face developed to provide dermatologists with an effective solution to address skin tone irregularities on a daily basis. Dermatologists often observe the first changes in skin tone uniformity before the age of 30. Mela-D Bright has been rigorously formulated with Kojic Acid, to help even the appearance of skin discoloration, and Vitamin C, to help smooth rough skin texture. Hydroquinone-free formula.


Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Silica, Ascorbic Acid, Kojic Acid, Tocopherol, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Magnesium Sulfate, Arginine Pca, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Ethylparaben, Triethanolamine, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Dimethicone, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Acrylates Copolymer, Disodium Edta, Cetyl Peg/Ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Tetrasodium Edta, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Hexyl Laurate

Brand Overview

La Roche-Posay At-A-Glance

Strengths: A few good cleansers; anti-aging formulas tend to be stably packaged to get the most out of the air/light-sensitive ingredients; many fragrance-free options; a unique lip moisturizer; some praiseworthy specialty products.

Weaknesses: Some problematic, overly irritating exfoliants; several ho-hum moisturizers and sunscreens; ineffective skin-lighteners; disappointing toner.

L'Oreal-owned La Roche-Posay has a pharmaceutical lineage based in France, and the company speaks of their thermal spring water as the cornerstone of their commitment to dermatological skin care. Sound familiar? L'Oreal-owned Biotherm makes similar claims for the water in their products, yet their marketing niche is spas, while La Roche-Posay caters to doctors and consumers interested in effective, no-frills skin care. Regardless of the source of their water, or how many minerals there may be in it, or the other benefits they assert it has, water is water and skin can't tell the difference. Even if the water were somehow "special," it takes a lot more than water to create and maintain healthy skin. This is something La Roche-Posay is aware of, because they do offer a fairly broad range of products to address the various needs of skin.

Their thermal spring water is said to be a rich source of selenium. Selenium is a nonmetallic element that has potent antioxidant ability. However, almost all of the research surrounding its benefits pertains to dietary or supplemental consumption, not to topical application. According to the research, selenium is absorbed into skin and helpful when applied topically only when applied as l-selenomethionine (Source: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, July 2004, pages 149–155). It is unknown whether the water La Roche-Posay uses contains this form of selenium, but we wouldn't bank on it for a unique benefit.

For a dermatologist-oriented line like La Roche-Posay, most of the products are surprisingly devoid of state-of-the-art or other interesting ingredients. There are some standout products, such as those with retinol and stabilized vitamin C; however, most of them are one-note options that offer the help of their promoted ingredient but don't commingle it with anything else of value to skin. It's ironic that although there's not a jar package to be found in this line, most of the moisturizers lack light- or air-sensitive ingredients, so jar packaging actually wouldn't be a problem. In fact, most of the moisturizers are downright monotonous. For the money, these products will leave your skin wanting more.

If you steer your way to the well-formulated products La Roche-Posay offers, you will find some first-rate options. They're not as varied as what many other lines offer, but for a pragmatic, no-frills approach to serious skin care, they'll do just fine. In fact, among all of the L'Oreal-owned skin-care lines, La Roche-Posay comes closest to successfully competing with the best of the best. It's up to you to decide if "close" is good enough. However, if you need to avoid fragrance and a range of potentially irritating plant extracts prevalent in the products of many brands, this line may suit your skin to a T.

Note: La Roche-Posay is categorized as a brand that tests on animals because its products are sold in China. Although La Roche-Posay does not conduct animal testing for its products sold elsewhere, the Chinese government requires imported cosmetics be tested on animals, so foreign companies retailing there must comply. This requirement is why some brands state that they don’t test on animals “unless required by law.” Animal rights organizations consider cosmetic companies retailed in China to be brands that test on animals, and so does the Paula’s Choice Research Team.

For more information about La Roche-Posay, owned by L'Oreal, call (888) 577-5226 or visit www.laroche-posay.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula Begoun herself.

Member Comments

No members have written a review yet. Be the first!

Enter a title for your review
First Name, Last Initial
Email Address
How would you rate this product on the following:
500 characters left

Terms of Use

585633-IIS5 v1.0.0.369 2/28/2015 11:30:53 AM