Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Aheli Sen (Fashion & Beauty Expert)  on 28th Dec 2020

What is Tranexamic acid? What are its benefits for the skin?

What is Tranexamic acid?

This last year has been quite revolutionary in the skincare industry for both producers and consumers. Producers have come out with many new skin ingredients, and their benefits have made the regular consumer go crazy about them. This has encouraged the introduction and sale of more pathbreaking components.

Of the different types of elements, acids have made their presence felt. Salicylic acid has been around for some time now, and hyaluronic acid has been a cult favorite in the anti-aging department before it made an entry for a younger crowd. This has happened in the last few years, and then came the revolutionary glycolic acid. Now to remember, none of the mentioned acids have lost their market share to newer acids. Why? Well, simply because each of these acids has a very different or unique output on the skin.

We have now reached the introduction of yet another new acid for the skin, which is tranexamic acid.

Surely you are here because you wanted to know in detail about this acid which has become the talk of the town. Well, look no more. Complete reading the article below to have an in-depth understanding of what tranexamic acid is. 

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What is Tranexamic Acid? 

However, a relatively new element in the skincare industry has been around for years in the medical field. Only now have the skincare industry and dermatologists accepted it.

Tranexamic acid is an "antifibrinolytic." This means it is a medication used to reduce blood flow. What it does is that it reduces the breakdown of blood clots and thus slows down bleeding. It is usually found in the form of tablets in the medical world.

However, in the world of dermatology and skincare, it is used to treat melasma. The element has been in the process of studies about its effects on the skin for a very long time. "Pigmentation" is what is studied against tranexamic acid. It helps in fading dark spots, age spots, sun spots, uneven skin tone, and brightening and illuminating skin. A study reveals that this element is impressive when it comes to treating hyperpigmentation, spots, and melasma caused by ultraviolet rays. It has also been concluded to be very useful and safe to use elements to treat the same.

In more serious treatments like melasma from pregnancy and hyperpigmentation, it is tranexamic acid used. It helps treat and prevent hyperpigmentation

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Who is it meant for?

Tranexamic acid can be used by people from all age groups and all sexes. If you want brighter, more luminous, even-toned skin, this is the one ingredient that can come to your rescue. 

Let us now understand what melasma is too: 

When the skin on our face and neck is exposed to the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, the skin acquires dermatitis where lighter skin has patches of darkness on them and dark brown macules. Even though both men and women go through this problem, studies have shown it to be more prevalent in women and only about 10% in men. This process of melasma is just one wherein there are more ways to get melasma. The most common reason behind the same is genetics. If it is in your genes, just like any other born characteristic, melasma cannot be helped.

Other accelerators include: 

  • Sex hormones
  • Thyroid
  • Cosmetic
  • Contraceptives 
  • Anti Seizure medicines 

Melasma is treated via medicines, laser therapy, and sunscreens. Chemical peels are also quite the thing these days for the removal of skin affected by melasma. 

Let us now look at how tranexamic acid works on the skin: 

Melasma is treated by tranexamic acid in more than one way. Let us see how it helps the hyperpigmented skin: 

  • It slows down the production of melanocytes (cells that produce the skin's pigment 
  • It reduces the amount of blood supply to the affected region by decreasing the number of blood vessels in that region. The more broken capillaries on the affected skin would mean darker bluish bruised skin. 
  • This acid decreases inflammation procedure that stimulates the production of excess melanin that makes the skin darker and tans from the exposure to the sun. 
  • It decreases the release of chemicals that induce inflammation on the skin. 
  • It helps slow down the process of pigmentation by interfering with tyrosinase production. It is tyrosinase that ultimately initiates the production of melanin. Once this is slowed down, the entire process of hyperpigmentation is slowed down and prevented under the exposure of the harmful rays of the sun. Now how does that happen? It slows down plasmin production; plasmin is an enzyme that breaks up clotting material and is bound in blood. This is also how it slows down bleeding.

What are the benefits the skin derives from the usage of tranexamic acid in a gist? 

  • It helps prevent and treat melasma.
  • It helps brighten the skin.
  • It helps the skin to fade away from sunspots. 
  • It helps the skin prevent the occurrence or slow down the process of getting hyperpigmentation. 
  • It helps minimize freckles

Which other elements does it work well with? 

Unlike many other acids, which are reactive with other elements and thus need to be used with extra care, tranexamic acid works well with retinol and vitamin C. I also act well with exfoliants like glycolic acid and salicylic acid. The main reason for not being reactive in a bad way is that it works very differently from other acids used as exfoliants. This acid is not an exfoliant but gives off similar effects by decreasing broken blood capillaries' activity. 

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Is it risky to use Tranexamic acid on the skin? 

No! Studies have shown no side effects to be produced from the usage of tranexamic acid. Only in medicine does it have effects where it is served to people for oral consumption. When applied topically, it has no risk or any side effects to display.

Many people think that these kinds of ingredients mean that the skin is extra sensitive to the sun. However, this is not the case as tranexamic acid helps the skin shield itself from the sun's harmful effects. It acts super well when used with sunscreen, something that people are suggested to use in all weathers.

However, it can irritate extremely sensitive skin. 

How do we incorporate tranexamic acid into skincare?

The best part of tranexamic acid works well with almost all ingredients in almost any form. Thus, it can be used in creams, lotions, gels, sunscreen, serums, oils, etc. Combining it with retinol or kojic acid or vitamin c, or niacinamide is a great idea as the skin brightening effect of tranexamic acid only gets further enhanced. It can be used at any hour of the day but only at night when used with retinoids. Always remember to do a patch test before you go on with new products. 

Last Thoughts

Even though it is known not to have any dangerous effects, it has been studied that it can irritate sensitive skin. Consult a dermat, too, before indulging in this skin-brightening ingredient. Sunscreen is a must for the skin, and mix a few drops of tranexamic acid with your sunscreen and apply this before you step into the sun.