Are Korean Cosmetics Whitening My Skin? - All About Niacinamide
If you use Korean cosmetics, I'm sure you've come across the infamous "whitening" products that are offered on the market. But are they really whitening or just brightening? What's the difference between brightening and whitening anyway? Let's talk about it.
If you're anything like me, you love Korean skincare, but sometimes see that it's "whitening" and get worried. I'm here to tell you, don't worry! In most cases, they just mean brightening. Now, what is the difference between brightening and whitening? Brightening means that the product targets acne scarring and other dark spots to brighten up those areas, and it also means that it makes your skin appear bright as in the opposite of dull. Another word you could use is "vibrant." Skin that glows is the goal, changing your skin tone is not.
In brightening products, the main ingredient is usually Niacinamide. Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 and has sooo many skin benefits other than just brightening. It minimizes pore appearance, redness, wrinkles, oil, acne, and even sun damage. It's a great skincare ingredient and definitely not one to fear.
Let's go over some of those benefits more in-depth. Niacinamide brightens because it is thought to increase collagen production. It rebuilds healthy skin cells which can reduce sun damage, and in turn, reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Niacinamide also keeps the skin moist, which is important for reducing excessive oil production and minimizing pore appearance.
So, whitening... Whitening is actually blocking the melanin production in your skin so that when your skin creates new layers, they appear lighter in color. That's what we don't want. Love the skin you're in, am I right?
Why does Korea call it "whitening" if it doesn't actually bleach your skin? It's because of Korea's history regarding light and dark skin and their relationship to social class. In the West, tan skin means more vacations and time spent outside enjoying yourself instead of being stuck in the office. But in Korea, tan skin means outdoor manual labor, a job which everyone knows does not pay as well as it should. Therefore, pale skin is seen as prettier and has been the beauty standard in Korea for a long time. Times are changing, but some Koreans still abide by the "light is better" beauty standard which is why some Korean products market themselves as whitening instead of just brightening.