Seeing the light
From cleansers to emulsions, we try out the latest in whitening and brightening treatments
Melvita Nectar Bright
The claim: Certified organic brand Melvita harnesses the power of five "intelligent" white flowers in this four-piece brightening collection. The active ingredients are said to inhibit genes involved in the production of melanin, leading to skin that is more even and luminous as well as a reduction in the appearance and colour intensity of dark spots.
The review: When it comes to lightening and brightening, we tend to think of strong chemical ingredients rather than the more natural options. But we're glad we took a chance on Melvita. The Brightening Exfoliation Mask (HK$340) doubles as a scrub thanks to silica microbeads and the UV Shield with SPF 15 (HK$290) provides non-greasy protection with 100 per cent natural mineral sunscreens. But our favourite of the three products we tried was by far the Brightening Cream (HK$490). Despite its name, it has a light texture that works well as a daily moisturiser. Even from the first use our skin looked noticeably brighter, and there was something soothing about the cream's light floral scent. After using it for two weeks with the mask and UV Shield, we were happy to see a reduction in dark spots and clearer, more translucent skin. Tama Lung
Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Whitening Line
The claim: Featuring extracts of the powerful antioxidant white ginseng, Sulwhasoo's newly upgraded whitening collection is designed to stabilise skin temperature so as to suppress melanin production and relieve UV-induced inflammation. The "heat-treating" technology is also designed to strengthen the skin's self-defence mechanisms while stimulating circulation of blood and qi.
The review: This updated collection features a total of 10 products, including a serum, eye treatment, exfoliating gel and UV protection cream. We tried the new Cleansing Foam (HK$290) and Whitening Mask (HK$930 for 10 pieces). The cleanser is mild and almost foamless - therefore not irritating to sensitive skin - and left our face clean and hydrated. It also has a refreshing citrusy-herbal scent. Although mild, the cleanser was effective enough to remove water-resistant eye make-up and a lip tint. The mask is a thin layer of goodness and well suited to Asian facial features - even the tricky parts near the bridge or the nose are nicely covered. It took us a few tries and misses to separate the gel-like mask from the protective film, but after a few weeks of use our redness and pigmentation were visibly reduced. Vivian Chen
Estée Lauder Cyberwhite HD Advanced Spot Correcting Collection
The claim: Estée Lauder's latest Cyberwhite HD collection was inspired by research showing that not only UV but also pollution exposure causes the formation of dark spots - and that Asian skin is particularly vulnerable. The products contain 90 per cent active baicalin to soothe and prevent irritation, and should make skin more translucent while dramatically reducing dark spots.
The review: The new collection consists of two products, an Advanced Spot Correcting Moisture Lotion (HK$400) and Advanced Spot-Correcting Essence ($720). After cleansing the skin, the lotion is applied with a cotton pad and is meant to prepare the face to absorb the essence's concentrated formula. The water-like lotion comes in a large ice-blue bottle and has a chemical smell. It does absorb into the skin relatively quickly with a shiny sheen. The serum, meanwhile, has a lustrous pearl colour and is very light on the skin. After about a week of using the products, we didn't see much difference in terms of lightening dark spots, and in fact our chin area became more irritated and oily, resulting in unwanted acne. We modified the treatment by using the serum with Estée Lauder's Advanced Night Repair and the redness began to disappear. Bernice Chan
Clarins White Plus Total Luminescent
The claim: Clarins's latest whitening range aims to repair the skin's "micro-mirrors", layers of cells whose reflecting properties can be damaged by ageing, stress, fatigue and UV rays. Plant extracts including sandspurry and ginkgo biloba work to regulate melanin production, enhance circulation and boost hydration.
The review: We tried the Intensive Brightening Serum (HK$600) and Brightening Hydrating Emulsion (HK$450) - part of Clarins's seven-product whitening range - for about three weeks after cleansing and toning our face each morning and night. Both products have a fresh and relaxing floral scent, which disappears after application. We started by applying the serum, a semi-translucent fluid that was absorbed quickly. Next came two pumps of emulsion, a milky lotion that we massaged into the face and neck. The texture was smooth but a bit wet, so we waited a few minutes for the products to settle into the skin. Once dry, there was no sticky residue and skin was left feeling quite refreshed and well hydrated. After three weeks of use, we weren't expecting major results but our skin did appear brighter and less dull. We also noticed the texture was smoother and more even than before we started using the products. Winnie Chung