Top 10 Brighteners for Sun Spots, Age Spots and Melasma

Woman looking at the sun on a mountain


Vitamin C and other similar based compounds, called “derivatives,” as well as secondary metabolites and herbs can provide significant benefits that treat and brighten your acne-prone, spotted, irritated, damaged, and aging skin. These ingredients are great at fading sun spots and age spots, while nourishing the skin, aiding the treatment of common skin conditions, and alleviating inflammation. 

Top 10 Vitamin C Derivatives and Natural Brighteners to Benefit your Skin

  1. L-Ascorbic Acid
  2. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
  3. L-ascorbyl palmitate
  4. Sodium ascorbyl phosphate
  5. Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate
  6. Arbutin 
  7. Kojic Acid
  8. Licorice Root 
  9. Uva Ursi Leaf (Bearberry) 
  10.  Alpha Hydroxy Acids (glycolic, lactic, etc.)


Difference between natural Vitamin C and its Derivatives

Vitamin C offers great benefits to dull complexions. It may increase collagen and elastin production in the skin decreasing the effects of aging. It is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial ingredient. But pure Vitamin C (L- Ascorbic Acid) can be acidic and unstable, knowing to oxidize and turn brown when exposed to air. This is one main reason that derivatives are commonly used instead, to create natural skin care products that offer higher stability, protection, and shelf-life or that can be incorporated into formulas other than water based.

vitamin c

  • L-Ascorbic Acid is the purest natural form of vitamin C and one of the most active. Therefore, it is an ideal ingredient of natural skin care products. L-Ascorbic Acid is water-soluble and has the power to brighten your skin, but is most unstable and prone to oxidation. 
  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate is a form of Vitamin C that is effective in the treatment of dermal inflammation caused by conditions such as acne. The difference between pure Vitamin C and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate is more stability and less oxidation prone.
  • L- Ascorbyl palmitate is a fat-soluble form of vitamin C that results from the combination of ascorbic acid and palmitic acid. It is a powerful antioxidant with the ability to protect the skin and being fat soluble can be used in water-free formulas. 
  • Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate results from combining ascorbic acid, a phosphate, and a salt. It is a stable water-soluble product used to brighten and protect the skin. 

vitamin c derivative

  • Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is a precursor of L-Ascorbic acid. It has the power to penetrate the skin and for this reason, is commonly used in natural skincare formulations meant to reach deeply beyond the surface. 


Popular Natural Ingredients That Lighten Spots, Brighten Skin and Protect 

In addition to Vitamin C and all of its derivatives, other chemical compounds (many from plants) are skincare industry favorites when it comes to lightening nasty spots and brightening dull skin tone and texture. Check out a few of the most popular. 

  • ARBUTIN - is a natural product extracted from the Bearberry plant, a medicinal species. Rich in vitamin C it is known to prevent the formation of Melanin, and it is used as a lightening agent. 
  • KOJIC ACID -  is an ingredient made from fungi or food fermentation. It has the power to inhibit Melanin production in the skin and is used in natural skincare as a brightening or lightening ingredient. Kojic acid is also antimicrobial and antifungal. 
  • LICORICE ROOT - Licorice Root contains an isoflavonoid called Glabridin that works as a Tyrosinase inhibitor and therefore provides skin brightening effects. It can also reduce pigmentation induced by UVB.
  • Licorice Root
  • Uva Ursi Leaf - is harvested from the Bearberry plant, a known medicinal plant that grows in North America. Its anti-inflammatory power makes it a suitable ingredient in natural skincare and antioxidants help to fade the appearance of sun spots, age spots and Melasma due to its Tyrosinase nature. 
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids - (Glycolic, Lactic, etc.) are a group of chemical compounds derived from plant and animal sources, and commonly used in anti-aging products. They have the power to help exfoliate the skin, revealing a brighter, smoother layer. They help to increase cellular turnover while fading the appearance of pigmentation. 

Vitamin C plays an important role in our overall well-being. But because the human body doesn’t produce vitamin C, we are dependent on ingesting it as part of our diet or applying topically via natural skincare, such as serums.  With its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, it is praised as an immunity supplement and a natural skincare hero. 

A Vitamin C Serum is a must-have for every skincare routine.

Here are 6 Benefits of Using Vitamin C Serum:

  1. It helps to lighten dark spots and brighten the skin.
  2. It helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
  3. It is an antioxidant that helps protect against free radicals in your skin.
  4. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help with acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.
  5. It can improve the appearance of scars and hyperpigmentation from past breakouts or sun damage.
  6. It helps to boost collagen production which results in firmer, more youthful-looking skin.

If your skin has sun spots, age spots, PIH or Melasma and needs some brightening and lightening, find products with these top 10 Vitamin C derivatives and brighteners for best results. 

Looking for a more in depth, step by step guide to treating pigmentation? Check out this VIDEO: Vitamin C Facial Protocol where we show you how to use our Vitamin C Brightening and Lightening Set either at home or in a professional setting. 

Want more in-depth information about different skin care ingredients? Follow our new Vella series on Amazon Kindle to read monthly episodes on the most popular ingredients in skin care, how to use them and why with our new Quick Guide to Natural Skin Care Ingredients. 


regina disilvestro



Healthline - Kojic Acid

Healthline – Licorice Root

Healthline – Alpha hydroxyl acids

RD Alchemy – 6 Benefits of Using Vitamin C Serum

RD Alchemy – Vitamin C Facial Protocol

RD Alchemy - Quick Guide to Natural Skin Care Ingredients

National Institutes of Health – Vitamin C

National Institutes of Health - Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate

National Institutes of Health - L-ascorbyl palmitate

National Institutes of Health – Licorice Root

National Institutes of Health - Sodium ascorbyl phosphate

National Institutes of Health - Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate

Wikipedia - Arbutin 

Wikipedia – Alpha hydroxy acid

Skinician - Sodium ascorbyl phosphate

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