Skin Care’s Secret Super Weapon: Tranexamic Acid
Get ready, we’re doing a Bill Nye deep dive into the hottest skin care ingredient you’ve probably never heard of: tranexamic acid. Also known as TXA, tranexamic is a synthetic derivative of the amino acid, lysine, which is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. It’s been used medically for a long time to reduce bleeding during menstrual cycles and surgery. After observation of patients taking tranexamic acid showed a side benefit of improved appearance of skin pigmentation disorders, like melasma, skin care experts began adding it to skin care products.
Tranexamic acid has an effect on vascular processes, or those that involve blood and the transfer of blood by slowing down bleeding. Since your skin is the biggest organ in your body, tranexamic acid’s effects may be linked to a vascular connection between blood and skin. Also, though there hasn’t been much scientific investigation into the effects of tranexamic acid on the skin, it seems to affect melanosomes, organelles in the skin which synthesize melanin pigments, and inhibit their actions.
Breaking It Down
Tranexamic acid works on blood vessels to reduce redness and inflammatory effects, which inhibits effects on melanin overproduction. Unlike other skin care acids, it does not work as an exfoliant, which is good news for two reasons. One, it won’t dry out the skin or make the skin sensitive, which is an effect other skin care acids can have. Two, it means that it can used as a booster by pairing it with other pigment-fading ingredients, such as niacinamide, retinol, and Vitamin C. It can also be paired with a sunscreen with SPF 50 or higher, as UV and UVB rays, and other strong sources of heat, can instigate and exacerbate hyperpigmentation. In fact, tranexamic acid could play a role in decreasing skin’s sensitivity to UV (but that doesn’t mean you should skip the sunscreen!)
What kind of skin issues can tranexamic acid address?
- Melasma: irregular brown and grey-brown areas of discoloration, usually found on the forehead and cheeks, or around the eyes and lips. It seems to have a genetic component, affecting women, particularly Asian, Latinx and African females.
- Acne scarring
- Sun spots
- Rosacea: appears as redness and visible blood vessels in your face, and may be accompanied by small, red, pus-filled bumps.
- UV sensitivity
You’ve Sent Up the Bat Signal, Now What?
Tranexamic acid can be taken orally or injected into the dermis, but the easiest way is to apply it topically. It’s been showing up in a lot of high-powered serums and peels, particularly since it appears to be safe for all skin types, including sensitive. It’s also gentler on skin, meaning you can use it as a long-term treatment once or even twice daily.
If all this information is making your head spin, SKINFOOD makes it easy to try tranexamic acid in a familiar setting. We recently revamped our popular Yuja C line, introducing a triple blemish care approach that addresses hyperpigmentation using tranexamic acid and the power squad, niacinamide and Vitamin C. Check out the Yuja C Food Story to see how the super squad plays offense and defense for your skin in our new Yuja C Dark Spot Clear, available in Essence and Cream! SHOP NOW