Tranexamic acid has proven to be an effective method of skin whitening in both oral and topical forms. Because it is so effective at inhibiting melanin production, tranexamic acid is widely used to treat hyperpigmentation and melasma.
It has come a long way from its original use of treating blood clots, and it works well with most other skincare products. Read on to learn more about what tranexamic acid is, how it functions, and what it has to offer you.
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What is Tranexamic Acid?
Tranexamic acid is a synthetic form of lysine, meaning that it is manmade but mimics an organic compound.
If you think back to biology class, you should remember that lysine is an amino acid, meaning that it is needed for your body to make proteins. Unfortunately, lysine is not made by the body and you need to eat things like eggs or soy for everything to function correctly.
Tranexamic acid mimics the function of lysine and does things like stop blood clots from breaking down and, in recent history, brighten skin.
How Does Tranexamic Acid Work to Whiten Skin?
The skin whitening benefits of tranexamic acid come from its ability to prevent UV-induced melanin synthesis. For something like melasma to have a presence, skin cells must have the opportunity to interact with melanocytes triggered by UV exposure.
Although it is not clear how, tranexamic acid seems to effectively interrupt or inhibit this interaction, preventing the creation of dark spots or other forms of hyperpigmentation.
The most plausible theory for this is that this is due to tranexamic acid’s ability to block certain vascular pathways. Regardless, it is evident that tranexamic acid is an effective way to whiten skin.
Benefits of Tranexamic Acid
Besides its ability to brighten skin, tranexamic acid is praised for its ability to work with most other products and its safety.
Not every brightening product slips into a skincare routine easily, but with tranexamic acid, you should not need to change a single step. This is because it works well with most other products, including:
- Kojic acid
- Chemical exfoliants
You will even see it in the ingredient list of certain products alongside these chemicals.
It is also an effective replacement for hydroquinone, another skin brightening product that is known for irritation. The effects of hydroquinone have been bad enough to get it banned in the EU, so you know that switching to tranexamic acid is a much safer choice.
Risks of Tranexamic Acid
The largest risk of using tranexamic acid is that its coagulatory properties increase your risk of thrombosis. This risk has been studied more regarding oral tranexamic acid.
Despite the lack of risks, you should always do a patch test when using a new skincare product. Though allergic reactions or hypersensitivity to tranexamic acid are rare, there is a chance to develop a mild rash, itching, or even hypotension.
You will also need to take extra care to use SPF alongside tranexamic acid. While it does not necessarily weaken your skin, its fight against hyperpigmentation or dark spots is pointless if nothing is working to prevent them from happening.
Side Effects of Tranexamic Acid
For the most part, tranexamic acid is well tolerated by the body in both oral and topical forms. Those using it should still be aware of the list of potential side effects, including:
- Numbness (face, lips, fingers, toes)
Apart from the risk of thrombosis, most of the side effects of tranexamic acid appear to be transient and should not last long-term.
How to Use Tranexamic Acid
You can take tranexamic acid orally with a prescription, but it is more easily obtained over the counter in the form of a serum, moisturizer, or toner.
This makes it easy to slip into both morning and night routines, and for best results, you should use it twice a day. Most prefer to use it as a serum because this gives you more flexibility in your routines.
For example, a tranexamic acid serum can be used in the morning alongside a Vitamin C serum and under and SPF without weighing too heavily. The same product can then be used under retinoids at nighttime.
If you already have a loving relationship with your current serum, consider using a toner containing tranexamic acid to unlock all those skin whitening properties.
Tranexamic acid may have gotten its start as a coagulant, but it has found its niche in skin whitening. Not only is it effective at treating or combatting issues like melasma, but it does not seem to react to other skincare products working to combat the same thing.
This is a great choice for those with sensitive skin because it is less irritating than some other products and it mimics the body’s natural amino acids. While you should always be on the lookout for potential issues, slipping tranexamic acid into your morning and evening routines should be a breeze.