Three Marvelous, Multitasking Skin Brighteners for Spotty Skin

by Sonja on June 24, 2009

I get excited when I come across skin brightening products. One reason is because I’m noticing pigmentation “issues” as I get older, like a lot more freckles. I know freckles can be charming and all; but I’m getting into age spot/sun damage territory. I upped the contrast in this pic to show just how spotty I’m getting – sort of like one of those scary sun-damage-revealing UV photos. I’ve also got scars from acne that has long since gone. I know I can’t wipe the slate clean, which is fine. But I like being able to tone things down and prevent further damage. Today I’m sharing three products I’m loving. Along with brightening skin, they’re excellent multitaskers that do all sorts of other great stuff to help improve the complexion. These are bigtime multitaskers that give a lot of bang for the buck.

Boscia Skin Refining Treatment

Boscia Skin Refining Treatment ($48) has a gentle, natural, botanical formula to do lots of things to make skin look and feel younger and help prevent further damage. This is a light lotion that feels very refreshing and soothing so it’s perfect on hot, summer days.

It contains mulberry to even skin tone and has a whitening effect to lighten sun and age spots. It also contains jujube fruit to promote circulation and accelerate cell renewal to smooth the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Lavender, which is a natural antiseptic, has been added to purify and minimize the appearance of pores, reduce sebum production, and soothe skin. Finally, there are amino acids to soften and improve skin texture, boost moisture retention, and repair and prevent fine lines and wrinkles.

What it isn’t is some heavy-duty concoction that overwhelms and aggravates skin with a bunch of acids or whathaveyou. It’s pH balanced, and free of color, fragrance, preservatives, alcohol, and animal ingredients. It’s also not tested on animals. They recommend using it before a moisturizer. But I think this would be fine on its own for people with oily skin or those who don’t use moisturizer. Available at Sephora, select Ulta stores, StudioBeautyMix at Fred Segal, and

suki balancing day lotion

suki balancing day lotion ($31.95) is another powerful, eco-friendly skin product that’s gentle enough for sensitive skin with a lovely light texture that’s ideal in hot weather. It’s a moisturizer designed to calm and soothe redness, reduce hyperpigmentation, prevent early signs of aging, protect skin from free radical damage, balance oil production, and treat acne without harsh synthetic ingredients (like retinols) and without clogging pores.

It reduces damaging inflammation with a high percentage of their unique, natural salicylic acid from white willow. It also contains natural retinols to prevent the signs of aging and treat acne, while organic botanicals balance oil production and reduce irritation and redness.

Like most suki products, this moisturizer smells divine with all its great natural extracts (things like organic rose, chamomile, and lavender) and a blend of essential oils. All suki products are made with high-performance, natural, organic, biodynamic, and food-grade ingredients. They support fair trade, organics, and local sourcing. The formulas, ingredients, and finished products are never tested on animals. Available at, Whole Foods, and online boutiques like

[ comfort zone ] absolute pearl cream 12

[ comfort zone ] is an elegant, luxury skin care line out of Italy that I discovered recently. I’ve been slathering on a sample of the [ comfort zone ] absolute pearl cream 12 ($98) in the mornings to moisturize and protect my skin from the sun and a lot more.

It’s a real wonder cream, designed to moisturize, brighten, relieve redness, and reduce and prevent hyperpigmentation with things like kojic dipalmitate, amino acids, minerals salts, bearberry, lemon extracts, and licorice. It also reflects light with mica and is supposed to oxygenate skin to stimulate cellular metabolism and make skin look more luminous. There are anti-oxidant ingredients, like mulberry extract, to protect skin from future free radical damage. It provides broad-spectrum protection of SPF 12 to protect from UVA and UVB rays. I massage it into my face, neck, décolleté, and hands.

The cream is part of the absolute pearl line, which they call an “illuminating whitening anti-spot system.” “anti-spot” … I love that. [ comfort zone ] aims to take a gentle, natural approach to skin care that is respectful of the environment. Their products are available at spas around the world. Check their spa locator to find a location.

The Dangers of Hydroquinone

Added on 6/26: The lovely Hannele brought up a very good point. Hydroquinone has long been used in skin lightening/brightening products. It’s not as widely used as it used to be due to safety concerns. But it’s still out there. I highly recommend steering clear of anything with hydroquinone. There’s a lot of evidence that it’s not a safe ingredient. It’s widely accepted as potentially hazardous and has been linked to cancer.

As the Environmental Working Group reports: “This skin bleaching chemical can cause a skin disease called ochronosis, with ‘disfiguring and irreversible’ blue-black lesions that in the worst cases become permanent, intensively black bumps the size of caviar all over the skin.”  You can learn more about hydroquinone in the Cosmetics Safety Database.

None of the products reviewed above contain hydroquinone. If you want something more intense, check out my recommendations in my post about intensive skin lighteners.  The hydroquinone-free products tend to not work as quickly; but they can definitely give good results and are certainly much safer.

Do Tell

Are you into skin brightening products? Are you noticing uneven pigmentation and spots as you get older? Are you bummed about acne scars? Do tell.

P.S. Check out our regularly updated Beauty Resources page for some amazing beauty deals at,, Sephora, and more.

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Cammila June 24, 2009 at 8:58 am

It is SO awesome to get some reliable reviews on skin treatments! The market is so saturated, and it’s so hard to figure out what comments you can trust. Thanks!

By the by, I’m totally in love with The Solution, by Envision ( It’s the only treatment I’ve ever loved enough to actually recommend to anybody!
.-= Cammila´s last blog ..The Holly Sisters =-.

Sal June 24, 2009 at 9:19 am

The more of your posts I read, the more I realize how much healthier my skin would be if I invested in a few of these products! I’ve never tried a skin brightener, but that Boscia sounds like it was MADE for my sensitive complexion.
.-= Sal´s last blog ..Body Positive Music =-.

Sonja June 24, 2009 at 12:06 pm

❤ Cammila, you’re very welcome! Thanks for sharing what you use. Always good to know about something someone swears by.
❤ Sal, I think good skin care really makes a big difference. There is some nice, basic stuff at drugstores. But I much prefer the more sophisticated, nicer stuff. I think they do a lot more for the skin and tend to have nicer formulas. And if you pick the right stuff, they’re also a lot more gentle. I think the Boscia would be perfect for your sensitive skin. Seems like most of their products are ideal for sensitive skin so you should have good luck with the entire line. Let me know how it goes if you try it.

lisa June 24, 2009 at 12:26 pm

I’ve got a bit of pigmentation under my cheekbones that I use NeoStrata spot brightener for. It really does make a difference in reducing the darkness.

Sonja June 24, 2009 at 1:21 pm

❤ lisa, I’ve seen that line but don’t know much about it. Thanks for the tip. Glad to hear it’s working so well for you.

Izzie June 24, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Love this post and will be looking for those products in the local stores. I love how you emphasise skin protection. Speaking of which, perhaps you could do a post on a complete summer beauty routine, from prepping the skin to a fresh, polished daytime look? Thanks so much!

PS. What do you think of Guerlain products? I’ve heard a lot about their Orchidee Imperiale…

Alicia June 24, 2009 at 5:50 pm

I use Carol’s Daughter scar butter for my post-acne hyperpigmentation. Works like a charm!
.-= Alicia´s last blog ..Coupon =-.

Sonja June 24, 2009 at 6:33 pm

❤ Alicia, very good to know. I’ve seen that line but never tried anything from it.

Sonja June 25, 2009 at 10:28 am

❤ Thanks, Izzie! The Boscia stuff would probably be the easiest to find, because that line is at Sephora stores. But there are so many Whole Foods that the Suki line should be pretty easy to find, too. [ comfort zone ] is the more challenging one. I’m such a skin care fanatic. I think I get that from my mom, who’s always taken such good care of her skin.

I’ve got you covered for fresh, daytime looks. Tomorrow I’m posting a video with a makeup lesson with an easy, fresh summer look using Bobbi Brown’s two latest collections. Next week I’m posting a video with new tarte makeup. Thanks for the idea about a summer routine. I’ll work on that.

I love most anything from Guerlain. They most always come out with beautiful makeup. I haven’t used their skin care though and probably won’t try the Orchidee Imperiale with that $400 price tag! Yikes! But honestly, I think something like the [ comfort zone ] cream would give comparable results. It does the same stuff: combat free radical damage, assist with facial firming, smooth out wrinkles, restore radiance, and moisturize. Plus it has the added bonus of sun protection. Actually though, all three of these do all or nearly all of the same things and for much less.

Prêt-à-Porter P June 25, 2009 at 8:36 pm

thanks for the heads up on these things. i think i need to look into skin brightners, since i have more of a darker skin tone i notice im getting sun spots and hyperpigmentation.

Hannele June 26, 2009 at 8:07 am

Hiya Sonja, great feature!
I, too, know freckles and more recently (4-5 years) age spots/discoloration :( unfortunately, I wasn’t always so good with sunscreen application…
I tried Murad’s Age Spot and Pigment Lightning Gel, but was reticent in using it on a consistent basis due to the hydroquinone (highest allowed) it contains(supposedly linked to cancer). Another one to try would be DDF’s Intensive Holistic Lightner which, by the way, rates a 0 with the Cosmetics Database! According to reviews, it works for some and not for others. I may have to try it.

Sonja June 26, 2009 at 12:00 pm

❤ Prêt-à-Porter P, you very welcome. Be sure to choose something gentle and free of hydroquinone. See my reply to Hannele below.

❤ Hannele, thank you! But I would highly recommend stopping the use of the hydroquinone. I used to use it a lot. But it’s now widely accepted as having a great potential for being hazardous (and as you mentioned, cancerous). Doctors no longer think of it as being “supposedly” being linked to cancer.

As the Environmental Working Group reports: “This skin bleaching chemical can cause a skin disease called ochronosis, with “disfiguring and irreversible” blue-black lesions that in the worst cases become permanent, intensively black bumps the size of caviar all over the skin.”

You can learn more about hydroquinone here:

None of the products above contain hydroquinone. If you want something more intense, check out my recommendation in this post: The hydroquinone-free products don’t work as quickly; but they definitely give good results and are certainly much safer.

Susan June 27, 2009 at 9:19 am

I just purchased some Kiehl’s Ultimate White Target Spot Whitening Treatment last week(30mL tube, $70 here in Canada). I have faint pigmentation marks on the bridge of my nose and on my upper lip!!! I want this brown mustache gone! The tube is pretty generous, so I’m guessing it should last a good year. Here’s hoping for success.

Hannele June 27, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Sonja, thank you! great info about the hydroquinone.
Thank goodness I only used the product no more than 5 times in 2 years (I was very reluctant due to the controversy now facts!), then the product expired and I trashed it.. what was I thinking even buying it! I’m appalled that they even put these things on the market.
.-= Hannele´s last blog ..Remembering =-.

Sonja June 27, 2009 at 1:17 pm

❤ Susan, I didn’t know Kiehl’s made a lightener but I’m not at all surprised. There are so many out there these days. Hope it works well for you. Let us know how it goes.
❤ Hannele, you’re very welcome! I feel the same way. Never ever going to use that stuff again and befuddled as to why it’s still in products in the U.S. It has been banned elsewhere. The U.S. can be so behind with these sorts of things. Should be interesting to see how long it takes them to ban it.

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