What to Look For In the Best Face Brightening Serum

Skin is our biggest organ and provides a myriad of protective services to our internal system. These include temperature regulation, physical protection and absorption of nutrients. Without healthy skin, we are more susceptible to diseases that include infections, sepsis and even cancer.

We believe that our desire to have clear, glowing skin should also be mindful of having healthy skin that is empowered to do its best work at protecting us.

Skin lightening serums and creams are some of the most popular products on the market, but not all of them are safe. In fact, many of them are downright dangerous.

While as consumers, we hope that all skincare we buy will do what it promises, we often don't think that it may harm us. Skin brightening, lightening and whitening ingredients, specifically, don't have the best track record.

Skin lightening ingredients to avoid

To better understand which ingredients to look for in the best face brightening serums, let's first dive into the two most harmful ingredients you should avoid.

Hydroquinone. Banned in the U.S., E.U., U.K., Australia and Japan for use without prescription, hydroquinone was named as the equivalent of "paint stripper for skin" by the U.K.'s LGA.

It has been known to cause a black and bluish discoloration of skin, as well as linked to liver damage and even higher risk of cancer.

Note: As of September 23, 2020, over the counter formulations of hydroquinone are banned in the U.S.

Mercury. This is another toxic and banned ingredient that continues to be found in skin lightening serums. Mercury poisoning can cause nerve and kidney damage, as well as cause problems with eyesight, hearing or both.

If that isn't bad enough, those who come into contact with an individual using Mercury can also develop Mercury poisoning!


You don't have to use toxic brightening agents to lighten your skin. There are several powerful natural ingredients to help control your melanin production and achieve lighter and brighter complexion just as effectively.

Turmeric. The active ingredient in turmeric - curcumin - is a powerful brightening agent, which also helps reduce inflammation at the same time. This can help calm even the most sensitive skin.

Kojic Acid. A by-product of rice, Kojic Acid helps naturally resolve age spots, brown spots and other hyperpigmention by inhibiting melanin production.

Licorice Root Extract. This contains a variety of components that help in inhibiting melanin production, effectively lightening skin.

Retinaldehyde. Think retinol but stronger and faster-acting. Retinaldehyde is the precursor to retinoid acid - the final product of retinol that skin can use! Studies have found retinaldehyde to not only quicken cell turnover but to have strong brightening capabilities.

MOOD's ILLUMINATE Face Serum contains these four ingredients as well as broad spectrum CBD (no THC) to reduce inflammation, improve blood flow and absorption, as well as calmly focus your senses. This serum can also help brighten skin on your hands with regular use.

how to lighten dark lips

While the skin on your face can have as many as 16 call layers, the skin on your lips has up to about 5. Helping brighten your lips requires a more steady approach as well since you are constantly using them.

To help address the unique needs of your lips, it is important to apply a balm that not only addresses hyperpigmentation, but that also moisturizes, heals and protects.

We included the following ingredients into our ILLUMINATE Lemon Glow Lip Balm:

Lemon Oil: This star ingredient works with turmeric to lighten lips and provides an uplifting scent while fighting free radicals with its antioxidant properties.

Cocoa Butter: In addition to adding a protective hydrating layer to lips, it is a natural source of antioxidants, neutralizing free radicals that wreak havoc on your skin.

Manuka Honey: A powerful, natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, Manuka honey helps heal and prevent lip sores, often exasperated by sunburns or dryness.

Zinc Oxide: The only active sunscreen ingredient that covers the entire UVA/UVB range and blue light by itself, giving your lips broad-spectrum protection.

See all active ingredients here.

Except where otherwise indicated, statements regarding products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.