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Notes on Tranexamic Acid

Tranexamic acid is a potent brightening ingredient, a true hero for treating hyperpigmentation, acne scarring and uneven tone. While we may have come to associate acids with exfoliation (AHAs, BHAs and PHAs), tranexamic acid differs in that it does not exfoliate the skin and instead has anti-inflammatory properties.

A derivative of the amino acid lysine, when applied topically tranexamic acid prevents the skin from producing excess melanin. Naturally occurring, melanin is the pigment that gives our skin its colour. Too much melanin, however, can result in discolouration, dark spots and uneven tone. Tranexamic acid blocks the pathways between keratinocytes (skin cells) and melanocytes (melanin-producing cells), preventing the transfer of excess pigment to the skin’s surface. This chemical interaction both inhibits hyperpigmentation from forming in the first place and reduces the appearance of existing hyperpigmentation and dissolves scarring.

It’s soothing and calming abilities mean tranexamic acid can also help to reduce redness and inflammation, while its brightening abilities can help to lift any dullness and restore a healthy glow. It’s often formulated with other hero ingredients that harness brightening properties like retinol and vitamin C. Tranexamic acid plays particularly well with vitamin C and SPF. UV exposure can trigger melanin production, so by using this trio of products you’ll be well-equipped against photo-damage. 

Originally used as an oral medication to treat excessive bleeding after trauma and surgery, tranexamic acid can now be found in a range of topical treatments from toners to serums. Well-tolerated by most skin types, tranexamic acid can sometimes be slightly irritating to those with sensitive skin so I recommend incorporating it into your routine gradually and at a low dose to gauge your skin’s response.