Ingredient Highlight – Tranexamic Acid

Ingredients like retinol, vitamin C, and AHAs are firm favourites in the skincare community. It is easy to understand why – these ingredients have proven benefits for the skin. The new kid on the block that has us excited (and that doesn’t often happen) is Tranexamic acid. The ingredient is gaining popularity because of its ability to help improve the appearance of discoloration in the skin.

What is Tranexamic acid?

Tranexamic acid is a synthetic derivative of lysine (an amino acid). It treats menorrhagia (heavy periods), it is used during open-heart surgeries, and in treatments of clotting disorders. What doctors noticed is Tranexamic acid works on various skin discolorations in patients.

Tranexamic acid can be taken orally or applied topically. For the purpose of this article, we are talking about topical applications. Tranexamic acid is a water-soluble ingredient that is considered safe for most skin types. Obviously, if you have sensitive or reactive skin, make sure to patch test first.

What does Tranexamic acid treat?

It treats various types of skin discolorations, from post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation to melasma. Any number of factors (from UV exposure to medication) can trigger the skin discoloration process, and it activates the inflammatory mediators. This, in turn, triggers melanin production. Tranexamic acid works in two ways. First, by preventing tyrosinase synthesis in melanocytes. Then by preventing the transfer of pigment into the epidermis. What it means is it works at the root of the problem.

Tranexamic acid can be paired with other ingredients like vitamin C and retinol. That said – if you have never used active ingredients in your skincare routine, we would advise introducing one new product at the time.
Likewise, Tranexamic acid is effective against discoloration. But that does not mean you can forget your daily sunscreen.

Is there proof of the claims?

Several studies examined the effects of Tranexamic acid on the skin.

50 melasma patients participated in a 12-week study in Iran. They all had to apply a 3% Tranexamic acid solution to one side of their face and 3% hydroquinone and 0.01% dexamethasone on the other side of their face. Both topical solutions proved to be effective. However, the side-effects of hydroquinone were more prominent when compared to Tranexamic acid.

In India, 84 females and 16 males took part in another 12-week study. Patients had different types of melasma (mixed, epidermal, and dermal). The study compared the efficacy of 5% topical solution of Tranexamic acid versus 3% Hydroquinone cream. The conclusion was 5% of Tranexamic acid was just as effective as 3% Hydroquinone. However, Tranexamic acid patients reported far less irritation.

At the moment, there are a few products with Tranexamic acid, mainly serums. The recommended concentration is between 2 and 5%. However, as it grows in popularity, expect more products to hit the market.

Roberta Striga