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Pigmentation Skincare Malaysia

Active Ingredients Commonly Used in Pigmentation Skincare in Malaysia


Skin care products and prescription-only creams play a major role when it comes to treating pigmentation. Many Malaysian often use over-the-counter (OTC) creams or cosmetic range skin care products as their first option when it comes to treating pigmentation. Majority of us seek treatment from a certified aesthetic doctor only after thousands of ringgit worth of skin care product failed. Although certain skin care products are great, it should not be confused with medical-grade, prescription-only creams when it comes to treating pigmentation. These creams work more effectively as they are specially formulated to treat pigmentation. The ingredients used in these creams had undergone rigorous studies to prove their efficacy and safety. You should consult your dermatologist or medical aesthetic physician prior to starting treatment with a medical-grade cream to avoid side-effects.

This article will explain in more detail about the ingredients used in pigmentation skincare products in Malaysia.

Common Ingredients Found in Pigmentation Skincare in Malaysia:

Pigmentation Skincare Malaysia | Licorice Extract:

Licorice extract is obtained from the root of Glycyrrhiza Glabra Linnea (Licorice). It is native to the Mediterranean, Russia and Asia. It is now extensively cultivated in India. Licorice has been used for centuries to treat various body conditions. It has been used to treat digestive tract related problems, sore throat, coughs, and viral and bacterial infection. Licorice extract is widely used in skin care products to treat hyperpigmentation problems.

When applied on the skin, Licorice extract interrupts the enzymes that activate skin melanin (pigment) production. This prevents future hyperpigmentation while it improves existing pigmentation. Studies have shown that licorice extract also has anti-inflammatory properties. This comes in handy when dealing with ultraviolet induced hyperpigmentation or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.


  1. Licorice Root, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health; webpage: accessed on 22/08/2018.
  2. Rashimi S, et. al.; Cosmeceuticals for Hyperpigmentation: What is Available? J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2013 Jan-Mar; 6(1): 4-11. doi: 10.4103/0974-2077.110089
Pigmentation Skincare Malaysia | N-acetylglucosamine:

N-acetylglucosamine (NAG) is a sugar compound, chemically created by combining glucosamine and acetic acid. Glucosamine is found naturally within joint tissue and other connective tissues in our body, and It is one of the important building blocks for the body.

The use of NAG in skincare products is common. It is used to aide wound healing, and to treat UV-damaged skin and hyperpigmentation. It is reported that NAG can significantly stop the production of melanin (pigment) by melanocyte (skin’s pigment cells). Many studies show that NAG can effectively reduce hyperpigmentation and age spots. On top of that, N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG) is also being used to effectively reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Products containing N-Acetyl Glucosamine is generally safe and well tolerated.


  1. Bissett et. al.; Reduction in the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation by topical N-Acetyle Glucosamine; J Cosmet Dermatol. 2007 Mar;6(1):20-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1473.2007.00295.x
  2. Rashimi S, et. al.; Cosmeceuticals for Hyperpigmentation: What is Available? J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2013 Jan-Mar; 6(1): 4-11. doi: 10.4103/0974-2077.110089
Pigmentation Skincare Malaysia | Alpha Hydroxy Acids (eg: Glycolic acid, Lactic acid, Malic acid or Tartaric acid)

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) are a naturally occuring compound derived from various natural occuring substances. These acids are commonly added into daily used skincare products as an exfoliating agent. The function of these compounds is to gently remove the top most layer of the skin. This encourages and speeds up the skin renewal process. Fresh, clean and pigment-free skin cells surface to gives a bright radiant skin appearance.


Pigmentation skincare products often use a combination of AHA with other active ingredients that stop melanin production. This combination often gives a better result. One must be careful when choosing a skincare product with AHA, as it may not be suitable for eczematous or sensitive skin type.


  1. Moghimipour E. Hydroxy Acids, the Most Widely Used Anti-aging Agents. Jundishapur Journal of Natural Pharmaceutical Products. 2012;7(1):9-10.
Pigmentation Skincare Malaysia | Niacinamide:

Also known as nicotinamide, niacinamide is the active form of Vitamin B3. It is a common ingredient used in many popular over-the-counter pigmentation skincare products. It works by interfering with the transfer of melanin (pigment) from the melanocytes (pigment cells) to the keratinocytes (skin cells).

Various studies show that niacinamide can significantly reduce the appearance of pigmentation. One particular study also suggested that niacinamide as a safe and effective therapeutic agent for melasma. Niacinamide is commonly used in combination with other whitening ingredients and sunblock to achieve a better clinical result.


  1. Navarrete-Solis J et al.; A double-blinded clinical trial of Niacinamide 4% versus hydroquinone 4% in the Treatment of Melasma; Dermatol Res Pract. 2011; 2011: 379173 doi:10.1155/2011/379173. Epub 2011 Jul 21.
  2. Rashimi S, et. al.; Cosmeceuticals for Hyperpigmentation: What is Available? J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2013 Jan-Mar; 6(1): 4-11. doi: 10.4103/0974-2077.110089
Pigmentation Skincare Malaysia | L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)

L-ascorbic acid, or more commonly known as Vitamin C is no strainger to all. It is a naturally occuring and powerful antioxidant that is proven to reduce skin melanin (pigment) production. The naturally occuring Vitamin C derived from fruits and vegetables is unstable, resulting in questionable efficacy. Hence, pigmentation skincare product in Malaysia typically uses the modified compound of vitamin C such as magnesium-ascorbyl-phosphate (MAP) or ascorbyl-6-palmitate. These modified compound are more stable compaired and are able to deliver a more consistent whiteining result.

One major problem with topical usage of Vitamin C is that Vitamin C is poorly absorbed by the skin. Hence, Vitamin C compounds are often used during treatment such as mesotherapy and microdermabrasion to enhence its absorption and efficacy. Although many studies suggested that Vitamin C as an effective treatment for pigmentation. However, most OTC pigmentation skincare producs in Malaysia contain suboptimal Vitamin C concentration to deliver its real potential.


  1. Rashimi S, et. al.; Cosmeceuticals for Hyperpigmentation: What is Available? J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2013 Jan-Mar; 6(1): 4-11. doi: 10.4103/0974-2077.110089
Pigmentation Skincare Malaysia | Tranexamic acids

Tranexamic acids is a medication commonly used to stop bleeding and are commonly used to treat heavy menses in ladies. Its usage in the treatment of skin hyperpigmentation was first reported in 1979 in Japan. Since then, multiple studies have described the use of tranexamic acid in the treatment of hyperpigmentation such as melasma. Many of these studies described clear benefits of oral adminstration and intradermal injection of tranexamic acid, on treatment melasma. Recent studies have shown support towards the usage of topical tranexamic acid to treat hyperpigmentation and melasma.

As more pieces of evidence surface and support the use of topical tranexamic acid as a safe skin lightening agent. We will in future see more pigmentation skincare products using tranexamic acid as their main active ingredient to combat pigmentation and melasma.


  1. Atefi N, et. al.; Therapeutic effects of tranexamic acid in comparison with hydroquinone in the treatment of women with melasma; Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2017;7(3):417-424. doi:10.1007/s13555-017-0195-0. Epub 2017 Jul 26.
  2. Poojary S, Minni K (2015); Tranexamic Acid in Melasma: A Review. Pigmentary Disorders 2:228. doi:10.4172/2376.1000228
Pigmentation Skincare Malaysia | Kojic acid

Kojic acid is a compound derived from various species of fungal. It is another common ingredient found in pigmentation skincare worldwide, including Malaysia. Kojic acid works by inhibiting the production of melanin (pigment) by melanocytes (pigment cells) and result in a skin whitening effect. On top of that, Kojic acid exhibits antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for various hyperpigmentation condition

Several studies to date suggest that kojic acid could be a superior potential depigmenting agent compared to hydroquinone. However, the use of kojic acid as lone therapy is still contraversial because it may cause skin irritation for many. It can be effective in patients who do not tolerate the first-line products.


  1. Kojic Acid, MDedge Dermatology News, 12/10/2010, accessed on 22/08/2018
Pigmentation Skincare Malaysia | Arbutin

Arbutin is among the most widely used skin-lightening agent worldwide and is commonly found in pigmentation skincare products in Malaysia. Arbutin is a chemical variant of hydroquinone, a prescription topical medication for hyperpigmented skin conditions. Arbutin is a naturally occuring plant compound found in the dried leaves of various species of plants including, bearberry, blueberry, cranberry and pear trees. Similar to hydroquinone, arbutin stops the enzymatic activity within the melanocyte (pigment cells), therefore, reduce melanin (pigment) production.

Several clinical studies have shown the effectiveness of arbutin in treating hyperpigmentation skin condition. Generally, arbutin has a relatively good safety profile and its use is generally well tolerated. However, the use of arbutin should be carefully monitored by a trained physician as there are reports of paradoxical hyperpigmentation (pigmentation become darker instead of lightens) associated with the use of a higher concentration of arbutin.


  1. Rashimi S, et. al.; Cosmeceuticals for Hyperpigmentation: What is Available? J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2013 Jan-Mar; 6(1): 4-11. doi: 10.4103/0974-2077.110089

Pigmentation Skincare Malaysia | Summary. 

As consumers, we should always understand the ingredients used in our products. Many of the active ingredients discussed above are safe and shown to be able to lighten the skin hyper-pigmentation. However, as discuss in previous post, we should always get the diagnosis of your skin hyper-pigmentation right from the beginning before we attempt to self-treating ourselves.

To learn more: Pigmentation Treatment in Malaysia, click here

To learn more: Top 3 Popular Medical Aesthetic Clinic in Malaysia, click here

Disclosure of off-labelled use:

This document contains the discussion of agents that are not indicated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. do not recommend the use of any agent outside of the labelled indication. The opinion expressed in this document are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the general concensus of The Medical Aesthetic Society. Please refer to the official prescribing information for each product for discussion of approved indications, contraindications and warnings.

Copyright, Legal Notice and Disclaimer:

The information presented in this document is not meant to serve as a guideline for patient mangement. This document is written based on personal experience and anecdotal evidence. The Author(s) and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions in this text. Prior to deciding on any treatment, discuss with your certified doctor about the indication, potential risk and contraindication of the treatment. shall not be liable to anyone for any loss or injury caused in whole or in part by your use of this information, or for any decision you make or action you take in reliance on the information you received from this writting.