Topicals **FADED** brightening + clearing gel may be my “Desert Island product”: I’m on my second tube and never want to be without this stuff again. It’s the only product to noticeably lighten my melasma and dark spots left by acne-rosacea without causing irrtation.
Almost everyone deals with some sort of hyperpigmentation—caused by overproduction and irregular distribution of melanin—at some point in their lives. Skin’s melanocytes can be triggered to overproduce melanin for a variety of reasons, like sun exposure, breakouts/pimples, cuts, hormonal fluctuations, or eczema and rashes. **FADED** gel is formulated to help *heal* scarred and sun-damaged skin by fading away even your most stubborn marks, scars, and spots—but *gentle* enough for people with hyperpigmentation and erythema (redness) who can’t tolerate more aggressive acids. Since it’s made by two women of color, I implicitly trust Topicals when they promise the formula *never bleaches*.
The gentle-yet-effective magic of **FADED** is in the ingredients. Per Topicals, key ingredients are:
1. *TRANEXAMIC ACID* : prevents melanocyte (pigment cell) activation, initiation of melanogenesis (process that creates excess pigment in dark spots), and additional vascular development (pathogenesis of melasma)
2. *AZELAIC ACID* : prevents tyrosine conversion to melanin; scavenges discoloration-causing free radicals in the skin resulting from environmental stress and sun damage
3. *NIACINAMIDE* : interrupts pigment transfer from melanocytes to the upper layers of the skin where discoloration is visible, scavenges free radicals and helps to reverse oxidative damage, anti-inflammatory, refines pores and excess oil
4. *KOJIC ACID* : inhibits melanocyte activation, mildly exfoliates skin
5. *LICORICE ROOT* : boasts powerful antioxidant properties, anti-inflammatory, helps to break down deposits of excess pigment in the skin
6. *CENTELLA ASIATICA LEAF EXTRACT* : anti-inflammatory, powerful antioxidant, helps to accelerate wound healing and collagen production
7. *MELATONIN* : interrupts communication between melanocytes and keratinocytes, limits melanocyte stimulation, scavenges free radicals
Other noteworthy ingredients include: ALLANTOIN (soothes, protects, and stinulates new tissue growth), ALPHA ARBUTIN (helps fade sun damage and scars left by breakouts), SQUALANE (hydrates, moisturizes, soothes, noncomedogenic), and TURMERIC ROOT (antiinflammatory, soothes, lightly exfoliates).
**FADED** is fragrance-free, dye-free, vegan, and cruelty-free. You recieve 1.7fl oz/50mL for $36 USD, which lasts me ~2 months with daily use. If you have melasma or other hyperpigmentation but your skin hasn’t been able to tolerate stronger acids, Topicals **FADED** is a must-try powerhouse (in fabulous retro packaging). **FADED** replaced a prescription product I’d used for years (Finacea/azelaic acid—it’s an ingredient in **FADED** and my skin tolerates this formulation much better) from first use. It’s never caused a flare of eczema/rosacea, and my skintone is the most even it’s been in years; I can’t recommend it enough.
It can be hard to get your hands on **FADED**. Topicals is a small brand with in-demand products and limited stock; you may be waitlisted or need to pre-order (which isn’t ideal when you rely on a product for daily use). I think this will change in time, sooner rather than later given all the positive buzz surrounding Topicals’ debut products.
Because there are no added fragrances, **FADED** smells pretty funky. Prior to its newer, less-stinky formulation, it had a sulfurous/rotten-egg scent until dry-down. People who ordered the first “drop” weren’t exaggerating about the scent, it wasn’t pleasant. The reformulation/current version doesn’t smell *good*, but it definitely doesn’t have that rotten egg smell anymore. It reminds me of (sorry in advance) raw chicken and seasoned salt. Probably not your grail if you want a pleasant olfactory experience with your skincare, but **FADED** works on my spots so I’m willing to breathe through my mouth til dry-down.