Almost everyone worries about those dreaded dark spots in their lifetime - that is, sun spots, age spots, liver spots. (haha ;-)) All joking aside, hyperpigmentation and melasma often require serious treatments. And since 1982, the gold standard in dermatologists' offices has been hydroquinone, a potent tyrosinase inhibitor that may also work by inducing cytotoxicity in melanocytes. However, even though hydroquinone has been found in numerous studies to be safe (as mentioned in a 2006 review in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology), the ingredient has still been banned in some countries, including France and South Africa, for concerns about increased cancer risk and ochronosis (darkening of the skin) with its use.
With that concern in mind, Stanford University researchers recently developed LumixylTM, a complex of oligopeptides (0.1% w/w) that has been found to significantly inhibit tyrosinase, the rate-limiting enzyme in melanin production. According to a 2009 study in The Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, LumixylTM also improved melasma and overall facial aesthetics in five female participants - a significant finding in such a well-controlled study, though the sample size was small. Still, as researchers report, LumixylTM seems to hold great promise for treating hyperpigmentation and melasma. As I learned in a recent opportunity to interview LumixylTM scientists, the great promise of LumixylTM is the product's ability to "deliver efficacy similar to hydroquinone, without the potential toxicity".
Clearly, more research needs to be done before LumixylTM is granted the gold -standard status of hydroquinone for treating hyperpigmentation. Still, the product appears to hold great promise, and it will be exciting to follow it as more research becomes available. It is currently being sold exclusively through participating physicians' offices for $120.00 for a 1 ounce pump.
A special thanks to Lumixyl researchers and Melissa Kelz, PR for providing me with the informative interview.