skin brighteners As women, we all know when our skin is not looking its best. We look into the mirror and see the aftermath of the sun, stress, lack of sleep and a poor diet. That vacation in Cabo last week? While it may have been a good time, your skin is definitely paying for the sun worshiping you did for seven days straight. As you sat on the beach with your margarita, the sun's powerful UV rays promoted the over-production of melanin, a dark-colored pigment that gives hair, eyes and skin their color. Consequently, this causes dark spots and age spots, which can ultimately make skin look dull and lifeless. In addition, sometimes when the skin becomes inflamed with bacteria, hyper-pigmentation occurs. We've all experienced this — we go to bed and when we wake up, we have three new (unwelcome) guests on our cheeks and chin. When our little friends go away, they may have left behind a skin stain that causes even more pigment to be produced, resulting in an uneven skin tone. Scary, I know. But not to worry: There are many skin brighteners on the market that are made to target dullness (including dark spots) and ultimately help you get your glow back.  Here are three key ingredients to look for when choosing a skin brightener: Vitamin C is crucial for your body to function.  More specifically, when it comes to treating age spots, vitamin C is the name of the game! Essentially, age spots are damaged skin cells.  Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects against UV rays and even repairs fine lines and discoloration. Vitamin B speeds up cell metabolism and promotes healthy skin. Vitamin B holds the key to glowing skin and also protects against eczema.  It’s an antioxidant that helps to increase blood circulation, which also protects us from the dullness-causing effects of aging, smoking and alcohol consumption. Vitamin A assists with cell turnover, allowing new fresh skin cells to rise to the surface. When using a Vitamin A, be sure to read the directions and take precautionary measures, as it is known to cause irritation. Many people using prescription-strength vitamin A have to start out slowly and apply only two or three times a week. Most skin brighteners come in a serum form and are mainly used at night under your moisturizer.  Dead skin cells block the active ingredients of skin brighteners, so make sure that you exfoliate to allow the formula to penetrate.  Lastly, skin brighteners will not work as well without use of a sunscreen, preferably one with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which specifically protects the skin from burning and prevents pigment changes. Do you use a skin brightener in your daily routine? Any favorite products? Sound off in the comments! photo credit: thinkstock

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