Very rarely in the world of beauty does a new, game-changing ingredient come along. Sure, there are new technologies and patents being developed every single day, but as far as seriously efficacious, ingredient-led discoveries go, they’re few and far between. Before the likes of super-hydrating hyaluronic acid, glow-boosting alpha hydroxy acids and fine line–reducing retinol were discovered, I wonder what was worth writing about.
However, it’s been a good few years now since any ingredient made waves in the skincare world, and I think we’re overdue a discovery. With that being said, over the past few months or so, one particular ingredient name has been popping up more frequently on ingredient lists and in conversations among experts.
Tranexamic acid is heralded by experts and editors alike for its remarkable skin-brightening effects. But what exactly is it, how is it used, and does it really have the potential to be the next big thing in skincare? Keep scrolling for everything you need to know.
Prepare for some sciency jargon ahead. Also known as TXA, tranexamic acid is actually a bio-engineered amino acid. It has been used in medicine for many years to help reduce blood loss in patients during surgery. However, in terms of beauty, it has also been discovered that tranexamic acid is a tyrosinase inhibitor. (Tyrosinase is a key enzyme responsible for melanin/pigment production in our skin.) “As is the case for so many hero ingredients, it was noticed that patients who were prescribed tranexamic acid as a medicine saw an improvement in hyperpigmentation—a happy accidental finding,” says Dr. Murad, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Murad Skincare.
In layman’s terms, all of the above basically means that tranexamic acid works wonders on skin hyperpigmentation and dark spots. “It is known in dermatology as a brightening hero. Unlike alpha and beta hydroxy acids, tranexamic acid is a non-exfoliating acid that works on discolouration, dullness and pigmentation. It’s perfect for anyone wishing to restore natural glow and even out their skin tone,” Murad explains.
Much like many of skincare’s finest ingredients, tranexamic acid has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and it is these properties that allow it to stop the transfer of pigmentation to the skin’s surface. However, Murad reveals its anti-inflammatory properties also help in other ways. “Tranexamic acid works to calm and soothe skin that is prone to inflammation which can, in turn, lead to pigmentation. An example would be those who suffer with acne. Blemish-prone skin can often leave behind dark marks and scars, but tranexamic acid can help to both prevent and treat this kind of discolouration.”
Much like other acids, tranexamic acid can be found in a whole array of products. From topical, toner-like products to serums, the benefits can be reaped inline with your everyday routine. However, much like the majority of highly powerful skincare ingredients, you should approach with caution. “Experiencing a slight tingling sensation is normal, but you can reduce usage if sensitivity occurs. Always be sure to wear an SPF of 30 or higher in the daytime to prevent future damage to the skin,” says Murad.
Plus, experts say that providing your skin has built-up tolerance, tranexamic acid can be used effectively alongside retinol and vitamin C to help maximise brightening powers. Keep scrolling for the tranexamic acid beauty products that are already available to buy.
If you struggle to find a facial SPF that your skin gets along with, this could be the one. It's super lightweight but is also formulated with niacinamide and tranexamic acid to brighten and prevent sun-related dark spots from forming.