.Image Skincare Intense Brightening Creme is one of those products that targets just what I need for it to: Sunspots. Hyperpigmentation. Uneven skin tone. In its description, the product promises “to even out skin discolorations…and to brighten skin for a healthy, youthful and radiant complexion.”
After over a decade of being a true skincare fanatic, I honestly don’t have a single fine line or wrinkle, even though I’m in my thirties. (Thank you, skincare science, thank you!) But what I do occasionally get are sunspots. Although I had a few sunspots pop up here and there through my teens and twenties, I now am getting sunspots on the regular — as in, 5-10 sunspots popping up at a time. It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense: I eat healthfully, I use vitamin CE serum daily, and I use a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen that is SPF 50+, year-round. And yet, they keep on coming up.
So imagine my excitement when a reader recently asked me to review Image Skincare Intense Brightening Creme. This beautifully-packaged product includes some unique ingredients, including methyl undecylenoyl dipeptide-16, ergothionene, two forms of stabilized vitamin C (tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate and ethyl ascorbic acid), vitamin E, licorice extract, and arbutin. Here’s my full analysis:
Methyl undecylenoyl dipeptide-16 May Fight Hyperpigmentation in Many Ways
The vast majority of hyperpigmentation skincare ingredients work the same way: They are designed to inhibit tyrosinase. And, in case you didn’t know, tyrosinase is an enzyme that is necessary for melanin production. No tyrosinase, no melanin. That simple.
Nearly all hyperpigmentation ingredients work in this way. L-ascorbic acid, kojic acid, niacinamide, lightening peptides like Matrixyl, and even hydroquinone — all found to inhibit tyrosinase, all to varying degrees.
Methyl undecylenoyl dipeptide-16 also inhibits tyrosinase, that’s true. But what makes methyl undecylenoyl dipeptide-16 novel is that it may inhibit the formation of genes responsible for melanin production — genes like TRP1, TRP2, MITF and POTC (DermaPep), which may indicate that more of the melanin-producing cascade is inhibited than when using other traditional lightening ingredients.
Methyl undecylenoyl dipeptide-16 is new, so there aren’t an array of studies comparing the efficacy of methyl undecylenoyl dipeptide-16 to, say, L-ascorbic acid or hydroquinone. Not yet, anyway. But as I advise on many new promising ingredients, I would use methyl undecylenoyl dipeptide-16 if it was found in high concentration (as it is in Image Skincare Intense Brightening Creme) and if other more proven lightening ingredients either didn’t work or had stopped working on my skin.
Ergothioneine May be a Better Antioxidant Than Idebenone
I’m always surprised more skincare products don’t include ergothioneine. Studies show it may be a more potent antioxidant than even idebenone (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2007). It also has far less risk of skin irritation than idebenone. It is taken up by the skin in studies to help defend against oxidative damage (Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 2009) and has been suggested as a potential UV protectant and skin tumor preventor (Photochemistry and Photobiology, 1988).
Ergothionene, a stable antioxidant found in food plants as well as in animal tissue, is still only found in a few products I’ve reviewed over the years. I’m always delighted when I find it, although Image Skincare Intense Brightening Creme is one of the first I’ve seen with it this year. (Others include Remergent Skin Clarifying Skin Brightener and NEOVA Total DNA Repair.)
Arbutin Works Best in the Synthetic, and Not Natural, Version
Arbutin is one of those ingredients you want to use synthetic version of, and not the natural version of: The synthetic arbutin derivative deoxyarbutin has displayed promising in vitro and in vivo results suppressing tyrosinase and melanin production, surpassing that of the plant-derived version (Experimental Dermatology, 2005). In 2006, Hamed et. al. evaluated the effects of deoxyarbutin in cultured human skin cells, and found that it was a “safe, effective, and reversible tyrosinase inhibitor.” (Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2006).
Why is the synthetic version of arbutin more effective than the natural version? Two reasons: Purity, for one. And specificity, for another. Molecules can come in different 3-D structures; alpha-arbutin is one arrangement, which has been found to be somewhat more effective (Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients); beta-arbutin is the other common molecular arrangement of arbutin. When arbutin is produced in the lab, it can be produced as all alpha-arbutin, which is more effective in binding to the skin cell receptors.
Overall, arbutin is considered to be effective, but less effective than hydroquinone. It is, however, also considered to be safer for the skin than hydroquinone (Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients), and particularly so for darker skin types.
If you’re like me and already use a concentrated daily vitamin CE serum and adopt religious use of sunscreen but still get sunspots, then a product like Image Skincare Intense Brightening Creme is probably a good call for you. It contains unusual new ingredients with a lot of promise for fighting hyperpigmentation: methyl undecylenoyl dipeptide-16, which has been shown to inhibit genes for enzymes/proteins other than tyrosinase; ergothioniene, which has been shown to prevent oxidative damage; and arbutin, which has been shown to lighten skin in clinical trials. Plus a bonus dose of vitamins C and E, just in case you’re into that sort of thing. (I, for one, certainly am!)
.Image Skincare Intense Brightening Creme is a fantastic creme for those fighting sunspots and trying actively to prevent them, and I highly recommend it.
Ingredients in Image Skincare Intense Brightening Creme: AQUA, SUCROSE PALMITATE, BELLIS PERENNIS (DAISY) FLOWER EXTRACT, CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE, METHYL UNDECYLENOYL DIPEPTIDE-16, TETRAHEXYLDECYL ASCORBATE, TOCOPHERYL ACETATE, GLYCERYL STEARATE, PEG-100 STEARATE, ERGOTHIONEINE, GLABRA (LICORICE) ROOT EXTRACT, PPG12/SMDI COPOLYMER, MELIA AZADIRACHTA LEAF EXTRACT, LEPIDIUM SATIVUM EXTRACT, TUBEROSA LEAF CELL EXTRACT, ARBUTIN, CURCUMA LONGA (TURMERIC) ROOT EXTRACT, BIDENS PILOSA EXTRACT, SQUALANE, ETHYL ASCORBIC ACID, LECITHIN, ELAEIS GUINEENSIS (PALM) OIL, GOSSYPIUM HERBACEUM (COTTON) SEED OIL, LINUM USITATISSIMUM (LINSEED) OIL, HIPPOPHAE RHAMNOIDES (SEA BUCKTHORN) OIL, STEARIC ACID, BUTYLENE GLYCOL HYDROXYETHYL ACRYLATE/SODIUM ACRYLOYLDIMETHYL TAURATE COPOLYMER, HEXYLRESORCINOL, AMINOMETHYL PROPANOL, CETETH-10 PHOSPHATE, DECETYL PHOSPHATE, CAPRLYL GLYCOL, HEXYLENE GLYCOL, DISODIUM EDTA, XANTHAN GUM, CITRIC ACID, POLYSORBATE 60, PHENOXYETHANOL, ETHYLHEXYLGLYCERIN, POTASSIUM SORBATE