Clear, even, luminous skin has long been the holy grail of the beauty industry, with many brands going so far as to include dangerous bleaching agents in their facial products. But with advances in technology, the days of adding mercury and hydroquinone to creams and masks are largely over. Now, rather than attacking dark spots and discolouration only after they’ve appeared on the surface of the skin, one French skincare brand has discovered a way to inhibit melanin production at its source.
Researchers at Sisley Laboratories have spent more than 20 years studying skin pigmentation in developing its popular Phyto-Blanc collection. “We’re always searching for harmony in the complexion, a balance of different parameters that together create the appearance of healthy skin,” explains scientific director José Ginestar. “One of the main areas of research is brightening, to fight against melanogenesis and the disruption of melanocytes.”
As Ginestar points out, melanocytes are cells that produce melanin, which is then transported to other layers of the skin and ultimately results in the formation of dark spots. This development of melanin is often caused by environmental factors such as UV aggression and other inflammatory micro-stresses – one reason why SPF and anti-pollution products are so widely recommended.But as Ginestar and his fellow researchers discovered, melanocytes do not act in isolation. They actually communicate with other skin cells, engaging in a kind of “cross talk”. “When the melanosomes (which are charged with melanin) reach the extremity of the dentrite, they transfer the melanin to the keratinocytes,” he says. “At this point, the keratinocytes rise to the surface and we can observe discolouration.”
This four-step process – maturation of the melanosome, melanin synthesis, melanin transport and melanin transfer – occurs throughout the body, with the exception of two places: the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Palmoplantar whiteness, as the phenomenon is known, is the result of a dermal protein called DKK1. Produced by the fibroblasts in the palms and soles, DKK1 has been identified as a natural inhibitor of melanin production.
This ground-breaking discovery led Sisley researchers to ask the natural question: how do we reproduce this phenomenon on the face? After testing thousands of plant extracts, they found the answer in Egyptian Myrobolan – a dry savanna tree that is found across the Sahara in Africa – and the impetus to create an entirely new brightening product.
Phyto-Blanc Le Concentré Pure Bright Activating Serum, which launches worldwide this month, is the first product of its kind that’s able to stimulate the production of DKK1 by non-palmoplantar fibroblasts, effectively preventing melanin from forming in the first place. But that’s not all. Le Concentré also targets dark spots on the surface of the skin as well as each step in the melanin process using a proprietary complex of four active ingredients.
First, pea peptide extract inhibits maturation of the melanosome. Then the organic compound hexylresorcinol works to prevent melanin synthesis while wild thyme extract acts on the transport of the melanin. Finally, vitamin B3 works to block the transfer of melanin to the keratinocytes. Together with Egyptian Myrobolan as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory factors, these key ingredients work to treat the “dermal and epidermal neighbourhood” as a whole.
Le Concentré, with its serum-gel texture, is designed to be used morning and evening on the face and neck. Laboratory testing has shown a significant reduction in intensity and yellowness of dark spots after one month of use, and an increase in skin transparency in just 15 days. In fact, luminosity, radiance and clarity all showed improvement in 15 days with more than double the intensity after one month of use.
While Le Concentré has been proven effective at both treating and preventing dark spots, Ginestar says results can only improve when it’s used as part of a complete brightening ritual. “The serum is [designed to be] part of a routine, so when you use all the products the efficacy is better,” he says. “It’s the ritual that allows you to get the most benefits.”
FILL IN THE BLANC
How to achieve ultimate brightening with Sisley’s comprehensive Photo-Blanc collection
Sisley offers three cleansing products in the Phyto-Blanc series: Lightening Cleansing Milk to gently remove make-up and excess sebum, Lightening Foaming Cleanser for combination/oily complexions, and Buff & Wash Facial Gel with bamboo micro- particles for exfoliation.
Used after cleansing, Phyto-Blanc Lightening Toning Lotion soothes and balances the skin with a blend of lavender and marjoram essential oils. It also tightens the look of pores and leaves a matt finish.
In addition to applying Le Concentré, target stubborn spots with the Intensive Dark Spot Corrector or apply the Ultra Lightening Mask once or twice a week for 10 minutes.
Don’t forget to shield the skin with Brightening Daily Defense Fluid in SPF 50. And finally, the Phyto-Blanc Cushion Foundation (available in three shades) provides buildable coverage while boosting hydration and radiance. The sweat- and humidity-resistant formula also protects the skin from environmental pollutants.