Discoloration Defense

1.00 fl. oz. for $ 98.00
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Brand Overview

SkinCeuticals’ Discoloration Defense is a simply formulated, easy-to-layer brightening product that’s a good option for all skin types. One ingredient holds it back from our top rating, but let’s discuss what we like about this fragrance-free product first.

Its packaging is a basic, opaque glass bottle with a dropper applicator. This type of packaging does a good job of keeping light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable once opened, but do be sure to recap tightly after each use.

Discoloration Defense contains a trio of proven brightening ingredients, all used in concentrations research has shown to be effective. You get 5% niacinamide (a B vitamin that also improves the skin barrier and pore size), 3% tranexamic acid, a synthetic rival to gold standard skin-brightening ingredient hydroquinone, and 1% kojic acid. The latter isn’t as stable as the others, but is likely capable of delivering some tone-improving benefits.

We’re particularly impressed with the budding research around tranexamic acid, as comparative studies have shown it works as well as hydroquinone, but is generally better tolerated. That’s exciting for those whose skin cannot tolerate hydroquinone or who just want to try a newer brightening ingredient that actually has solid research supporting its benefit.

As for the drawbacks, although the combination of brightening ingredients used here is unique, these ingredients aren’t the only or the absolute best options; however, if you opt to invest you’ll be getting a product that’s highly likely to work (but don’t forget daily application of broad-spectrum sunscreen, a key player when you want discolorations gone).

The more concerning issue is the buffering ingredient hydroxyethylpiperazine ethane sulfonic acid, also known as HEPES. Though there isn’t any direct research showing it hurts skin, some studies show it can generate free-radical damage in the presence of oxygen. If you decide to try Discoloration Defense, make sure the rest of your skin care routine includes an antioxidant-rich serum and/or moisturizer to help counter this potential issue.


  • Good amount and blend of brightening ingredients.
  • Highly likely to fade discolorations from sun damage and post-acne marks.
  • Lightweight, layer-able texture.
  • Packaged to minimize exposure to light and air.
  • Fragrance free.
  • Contains a buffering ingredient that can trigger free radical damage.
Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: Yes

Discoloration Defense is a layerable, daily-use dark spot corrector clinically proven to reduce the appearance of key types of skin discoloration, including hard-to-treat forms such as stubborn brown patches and post-acne marks. Formulated with 3% tranexamic acid, 1% kojic acid, 5% niacinamide, and 5% HEPES, this latest-generation formula improves the appearance of skin discoloration, brightens skin, and evens skin tone in as early as 2 weeks.

Aqua / Water, Butylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Glycerin, Tranexamic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Hydroxyethyl Urea, Kojic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Allantoin, Chlorphenesin, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA.

SkinCeuticals At-A-Glance

With a strong presence in the professional (meaning spa and aesthetics) skincare market, SkinCeuticals has a mostly well-deserved reputation for producing serious-minded, research-driven products, several of which are centered on L-ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin C).

There are many good reasons to shop this line; it boasts a lineup up impressive vitamin C products, as well as some good retinol options and sunscreens. Even better is that the majority of its anti-aging products are packaged in containers that will protect their contents from light and air. Focusing on what Skinceuticals does best (which is serums, sunscreens, and specialty products) will be money well spent for visible results. The main drawbacks of this line are some products that contain fragrance ingredients, as well as potentially-drying alcohol, though they represent the minority of the brands offerings.

For more information about SkinCeuticals, call 1-800-771-9489 or visit www.skinceuticals.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.

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