- Categories: Miscellaneous
Tranexamic acid is a synthetic amino acid derived from lysine. Topically, tranexamic acid works by interrupting at least two pathways in skin that, left unchecked, can lead to discolorations, including larger patches known as melasma. Tranexamic acid also seems to work within skin’s surface layers to make skin color less susceptible to UV light exposure (but of course, you still need sunscreen) and may also reduce redness.
Recent, double-blind and comparative research has shown that topical tranexamic acid in amounts between 2-5% rivals results of over-the-counter amounts of hydroquinone, long considered the gold standard for fading skin discolorations. If you’re using a hydroquinone product for lightening, you can add a product with tranexamic acid and potentially see even better results.
Comparative studies have shown tranexamic acid has greater tolerability than hydroquinone, although the latter is generally well tolerated when used as directed.
Research has shown that tranexamic acid is safe when applied to skin every day for several months. Topical concentrations between 2-5% typically shows results after two to three months of once- or twice-daily usage.
Note: Because tranexamic acid is a water soluble ingredient, it needs to be used in skin care products with oil-soluble ingredients designed to improve its penetration into skin.
It’s worth mentioning that tranexamic acid is sometimes prescribed for oral use to women experiencing heavy periods or to those with various clotting disorders. It’s also used orally in low doses to manage signs of melasma. Research has revealed that how tranexamic acid works in the body to prevent excessive bleeding is very different from how it works topically as a cosmetic ingredient meant to visibly fade discolorations.
References for this information:
Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, January-March 2019, pages 63-67; and July-August 2013, pages 139-143
BioMed Research International, November 2018, ePublication
Dermatologic Surgery, June 2018, pages 814-825
Dermatology and Therapy September 2017, pages 417-424
Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, August 2014, pages 753-757
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Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:
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