Whether it’s the result of the changing seasons, the effects of stress, or simply resting pandemic face, we’ve long been fans of acids to help our skin find its happy place. From clogged pores to uneven texture, chances are ingredients like salicylic, hyaluronic, lactic, and glycolic acids have gained a permanent spot in your routine. Now, there’s a new acid in town that’s worth getting on your radar: tranexamic acid.
What is tranexamic acid?
Tranexamic acid — sometimes known as TXA — is known in the medical field as an anti-fibrinolytic medication, says board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D. Taken orally, it helps control excessive bleeding if you have heavy menstrual cycles or frequent nosebleeds. In the dermatology world, it’s increasingly being used for a range of skincare issues including post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, dark spots, melasma, and urticaria (a.k.a. hives), says King.
The benefits of tranexamic acid
Tranexamic acid is great for brightening and evening out your skin tone. So, not surprisingly, it’s ideal for topical use for those “who are trying to lighten discolorations such as melasma or post inflammatory hyperpigmentation,” says King. Though it’s great for all skin types and skin tones, those with sensitive skin might experience irritation, so it’s important to do a patch-test (as with any new product to your routine).
How does tranexamic acid work?
Here’s a little bit of biology 101: “Tranexamic acid slows melanin synthesis by inhibiting the plasminogen pathway,” says King. This pathway is how the melanocytes, which are melanin-producing cells, and keratinocytes, a.k.a. skin cells, interact with one another to create pigment. So, in other words, it blocks the pigment-producing process while also calming your skin from inflammation.
What’s more is that tranexamic acid has similar benefits to hydroquinone, which remains the gold standard for pigment reduction, says King. However, hydroquinone comes with some baggage: It was recently banned in over-the-counter formulations in the U.S. (and has long been banned in Europe) for potentially toxic side effects. Tranexamic acid, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same limitations. It’s a gentler and more effective option than hydroquinone, according to studies.
How do you incorporate it into your routine?
We’re glad you asked! “Tranexamic acid is typically found in serums and creams intended to lighten dark discolorations,” says King. Naturally, you’ll find it in the new Glow Recipe Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum, which brightens dark spots and evens out your skin tone with a mix of 1.1% tranexamic acid, guava extract and seed oil, plus five (yes, five) forms of vitamin C. (Here’s a peek about why this trio is a skin-brightening trifecta.) It plays especially well with vitamin C, since the two target different pathways of pigment formation. (While tranexamic acid inhibits that plasminogen, vitamin C inhibits a key enzyme.) Together, dark spots don’t stand a chance.
Apply the serum to clean skin morning and night. “It should be used in conjunction with sun protection when applied during your morning routine,” says King. And don’t sweat about other brighteners in your routine; tranexamic acid also pairs well with niacinamide, kojic acid, and phytic acid to help improve and speed up results, says King.
“It also works well in conjunction with retinol and retinoids, but it might be irritating if used with multiple other acids,” says King. If you have super sensitive skin, start with incorporating Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum three or four times a week and increase usage as your skin tolerates it. “It could take as little as two weeks to start seeing improvement,” says King. Now that’s what we call looking on the bright side — literally.
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