Skin Lightening and Brightening

Assurance Skin, Laser & Aesthetics | 11 Feb 2016

Since time immemorial, women of light and fair skin have always been considered beautiful.  Women around the world often go to great lengths to lighten their skin to look more attractive. In Asia, it is every woman’s dream to have light and fair skin. That is why skin lightening treatment and skin care products are so very popular in this part of the world. In 2004, 4 in 10 women surveyed in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines and the Republic of Korea have been reported to use skin lightening products. 

Credit: Imgur

Skin Lightening

Skin Lightening is the process where hyper-pigmentation, the dark spots or uneven skin tone due to over-production of melanin are removed. 

It is usually done topically with skin lightener. The most frequently used ingredients for skin lighteners are arbutin, kojic acid, and azealic acids as well as licorice, vitamin C, niacinamide or mulberry extract. All of these ingredients have some prohibiting action against melanin and products with these ingredients could be easily bought over the counter. But the most powerful skin lightening agent is Hydroquinone, a well-known skin lightener that can only be prescribed by doctor in Singapore. 

Dermatologists also use laser or IPL to lighten skin and remove pigmentation. These machines emit powerful light beams to destroy the melanin pigment beneath the skin. However, a proper evaluation of the skin pigmentation is important as the success of the treatment hinges on accurate diagnosis, whether it is using skin lightening creams, IPL or laser. 

Credit: Doris Home

Why? Because there are many different types of pigmentation. To the untrained eyes, the different kinds of pigmentation all look the same. Under the trained eyes of an experienced dermatologist, pigmentation can be due to melasma, Hori’s macule, freckles, lichen planus pigmentaosus, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, lentigines, freckles and etc. Sometimes, 2-3 types of pigmentation can occur together.  Only by knowing the types of pigmentation can one prescribe the right course of treatment plan to reduce/removed pigmentation. Over my years of seeing thousands of patients with pigmentation, many came with unresolved pigmentation problem after spending huge sum of money on the wrong treatment. 

Skin Brightening

What is Skin Brightening? The term “Skin brightening” is used pretty loosely. Skin care companies may market the same products as “Brightening” in the West and as “ Lightening” or “Whitening” in Asia. 

Actually, skin brightening is not about shade or color of skin, but about an overall glow. A brightened skin can be likened to that of a peeled, hard-boiled egg that exudes radiance and luminosity, regardless of color of skin. 

Credit: Mimo Show

How can one achieve the holy grail of even, glowing, and brightened skin?

Through A Combination Approach of 

  1. Skin Lightening, 
  2. Exfoliating, 
  3. Stimulating, 
  4. Moisturizing and 
  5. Controlling Oil Production
  6. Sun Protection

To achieve a glowing and brightened skin, one needs to go beyond just skin lightening. In addition to lightening agents, Skin Brightening usually needs exfoliating agents to help peel away the superficial dead skin cells and the darker-stained uppermost layers of the skin, revealing a lighter, healthier and smoother skin underneath. A lighter and smoother skin can reflect light better, like that of a polished marble floor, giving the skin a glow and radiance. 

Stimulating the skin with Retinoids to replenish the skin with healthier and more vibrant skin cells is important, especially for the more mature skin.

A good moisturizing regimen or treatment program that nourishes and moistens one’s skin will definitely make it more hydrated and more radiant. 

Another observation I have made from my years’ of experience is oil control. A baby’s oil free skin is glowing all the time. Patients who are on oil control regime also have bright and healthier looking skin!

Credit: GDUTOL

Above all, it’s essential to employ sun protective measures because sun triggers the pigment production in the first place. That’s why it’s so important to wear sunscreen to make sure your effort in Skin lightening and Skin Brightening will not be in vain!


Dr Wong is a Skin Specialist / Dermatologist with special interest in acne, facial pigmentation, skin cancer, anti-wrinkle and filler treatments. He has garnered more than 20 years of experience in managing both medical & cosmetic dermatological problems. 

Dr. Wong is one of the first doctors in Singapore to combine the Dr. Obagi Nu Derm range of Skin care products with laser & IPL treatment for pigmentation removal & skin health restoration. Currently, practicing in his Skin Clinic at Mt Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, Dr. Wong uses Lumenis M22 OPT and has developed professional excellence in photorejuvenation & pigmentation removal with this improved and advanced intense pulsed light machine (IPL). 

If you have skin pigmentation & brightening concern, you are welcome to make an appointment to see Dr ST Wong. 


Assurance Skin, Laser & Aesthetics
Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
#10-22/23, 38 Irrawaddy Road
Singapore 329563
Opening Hours
Weekdays: 9am to 5pm
Saturdays: 9am to 12.30pm
Sundays & Public Holidays: Closed
Tel: (65) 66941121 
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