Product Review: Luminaze Catalytic Skin Tone Illuminator and Dark Spot Corrector

Reviews, Skin Care
Luminaze Catalytic Skin Tone Illuminator contains lignin peroxidase (LIP), a new skin pigmentation inhibitor. Does it work? Our writer, John Su, is not convinced.

About the author:  John Su is an established skin care expert and aspiring dermatologist.   He also runs a blog, The Triple Helix Liaison, dedicated to providing unbiased, meaningful, and insightful information about skin care. For his full bio, please visit our About pagepage.

Wow, that is a mouthful! A while ago, one of the readers (BooBooNinja) requested that I review this product ($112.00, Since it contains no other “featured” or “beneficial” ingredient, this post won’t so much be a product review, than an analytical profile on the active ingredient Lignin peroxidase (LIP), a ligninase enzyme derived from the fungus Phanerochaete Chrysosporium.

About Hyperpigmentation Treatments

Diagram illustrating the induced fit model of ...
Most hyperpigmentation treatments work by preventing enzyme creation or enzyme binding to substrate (shown above), both of which are necessary to form skin pigment (melanin).

Most traditional and proven lighteners like hydroquinone treat hyperpigmentation by inhibiting the production of melanin.  This occurs mainly through interaction with the tyrosinase enzyme and/or its creation (1).

Others, like niacinamide, function by inhibiting melanosomes, the structures responsible for the transfer of melanin from the lower basal layers of the epidermis, to the upper ones where melanin accumulates (2). Not to mention hydroxy acids, retinoids, resorcinol, and several others – there’s a plethora of skin lighteners currently available on the market. One of the newest ones is LIP.

What is Lignin Peroxidase (LIP)?

Wood Floor Type of wood floor : Strip flooring
LIP has been used in wood and paper production for years. In the skin, it may break down melanin.

LIP has been studied and used for decades for non-cosmetic purposes; mostly for catabolizing lignin in processed wood for paper production.

However, Syneron decided to extend LIP’s applications to skin care with the release of its Elure and Luminaze products. They both draw their alleged validity and effectiveness from a series of patents, the most recent one cited here (3).  Keep in mind that just because something is patented, doesn’t mean that it’s effective. After all, what new and expensive skin care product doesn’t contain a patented or multi-patented ingredient?

Anyway, in the cited patent, the authors claim that because lignin is similar to eumelanin (one of two types of melanin found in human skin), it can similarly and enzymatically oxidize melanin, resulting in the breakdown of the pigment.

How Does LIP Work?

The exact mechanism is a two-step process. First, LIP is applied to the skin allowing for proper dispersal and absorption. After a few minutes, the “activator” step is applied to initiate a reaction.

The two essential cofactors or substrates necessary include hydrogen peroxide and veratryl alcohol; both of which are included in the products.

What Does This Mean for Skin Care?

Fungus (3)
Most of the studies associated with LIP are company-affiiliated. However, in one non-company-affiliated study of enzymes isolated from a fungus, one LIP enzyme was found to bleach melanin. So maybe this works. It’s too early to tell for sure.

Now, that’s all good and dandy, but is LIP effective for hyperpigmentation? While the patent itself appears to contain studies designed to elucidate the safety, mechanism of action, and efficacy of LIP, there is no outside or independent article discussing this topic. Don’t be fooled by this one (4), as it’s the same article referenced in the patent. Though the article states that LIP is more effective than 2% hydroquinone, this has not been addressed by any peer-reviewed, published study.

Still, perhaps the lack of knowledge can simply be attributed to the novelty of this approach to skin lightening. One other study that I know of suggests that this approach may actually have some value (5). The study examined a variety of enzymes taken the Sporotrichum pruinosum fungus, and discovered that in the presence of manganese, a particular LIP enzyme was able to “bleach” melanin.

However, it’s important to note that because the enzyme was only partially purified, its molecular and catalytic properties were not positively identified, meaning in-part that the “bleaching” action can’t be incontrovertibly attributed to the LIP.

Bottom Line

Do I recommend this product?  I’d say stay away from it unless other more proven treatments have not worked.  Also, if you do decide to give this a try, it can be combined with other lighteners for enhanced results. For example, because of the low pH necessary for enzyme activation, a properly formulated glycolic acid product used in conjunction with this LIP cream could do wonders for the skin.

What do you guys think about this? Let me know in Comments or on my blog!


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  • @BooBooNinja

    Welcome! But like I said, if nothing works for you, this may be worth a look. But until then, this stuff is way too expensive to risk a “trial.” Although, Nordstrom (where you can buy this) has an excellent return policy.

  • BooBooNinja

    Thanks so much for reviewing this. I was interested in this product but shied away because of the price. Now I know that I’m not missing out on anything! 🙂

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