Pepta-Bright, which, strangely and depending on where you live, is also sold under the names Pepta Bright Intense Brightening Treatment and Pepta Bright Even Skin Tone Enhancer, is a product we're categorizing as a skin lightener, because it's meant to improve uneven skin tone and leave the complexion looking, well, brighter. The brightening doesn't happen, at least not from the standard way, which is from using cosmetic pigments like mica or titanium dioxide to optically brighten and make skin look more radiant.
Where this fragrance-free product has potential is for lightening brown spots and, yes, improving an uneven skin tone that resulted from sun damage. Pepta-Bright contains three skin-lightening ingredients that have a growing body of research attesting to their effectiveness. One by one, they are: undecylenoyl phenylalanine, phenylethyl resorcinol, and Dimethylmethoxy chromanyl palmitate.
Undecylenoyl phenylalanine is a white powder composed of amino acids and fatty acids. It is believed to work by interrupting the pathways in skin that stimulate excess melanin (skin pigment) production. Although this ingredient's research pales in comparison to what's known about hydroquinone and many forms of vitamin C, it is a promising ingredient that is worth considering in products meant to lighten brown spots and help even out skin tone (Sources: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, September 2011, pages 189–196 and December 2009, pages 260–266; and Clinical Experiments in Dermatology, July 2010, pages 476–476).
Phenylethyl resorcinol is a synthetic antioxidant that, when compared to gold-standard skin lightening ingredient hydroquinone, has scant research behind it. The most compelling research looked at the results of a cream with phenylethyl resorcinol plus three other skin-lightening agents. The product was applied over a period of 3 months by 20 women, all of whom also used sunscreen. At the end of the study, it was determined that the women's dark spots decreased by 43%. The problem is we don't know how much of this improvement is due to phenylethyl resorcinol, as it wasn't used alone, which is the case with Pepta-Bright (Source: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2013, pages 12–17; and September 2011, pages 189-196).
Dimethylmethoxy chromanyl palmitate is a peptide (trade name Chromabright) that has limited but intriguing research on how it interrupts the pathway for melanin (skin pigment) synthesis. There's not much research, but it does appear promising (Source: www.healthestatejournal.com/Print.aspx?Story=4710). Please keep in mind, however, just because an ingredient is new doesn't mean it's better.
In the end, this deserves consideration because, with daily sunscreen use (essential to improve dark spots and uneven skin tone) Pepta-Bright stands a good chance of improving discolorations and uneven skin tone. This missed our top rating because the formula, which is suitable for all skin types, lacks a mix of other helpful anti-aging ingredients such as plant-based antioxidants and repairing ingredients. However, it's definitely among the more affordable skin-lightening products that stands a good chance of working (but again, you've got to be good about applying sunscreen).
- Lightweight lotion texture is easy to apply.
- The skin-lightening ingredients it contains have emerging research supporting their effectiveness.
- Lacks a mix of anti-aging ingredients that would make it a more beneficial product.