OnlyOnAOL: Five skin brighteners you need for fall

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By: Donna Freydkin

Like a good skin soldier, I get a mole and cancer check once a year. And I ask the doctor the same question: is there any magic potion out there that will make my forehead lines look less noticeable, without having to rely on injectables? Yes, actually, if they contain certain ingredients, which remove dead skin cells and make you look more radiant.

How exactly do these products work? We asked Dr. Mara Weinstein Velez of Schweiger dermatology group to break down the most common ingredients. (And watch our interview with the impossibly gorgeous Dita von Teese above).

Hydroquinone: Hydroquinone is the gold standard for skin bleaching and brightening. It acts by inhibiting tyrosinase and therefore decreasing melanin production to help lighten the skin.

Kojic acid: A natural product derived from fungi, this acid works to stop the production of melanin in your skin.

Azelaic acid: Inhibits growth of bacteria, acne causing bacteria especially, acts as an exfoliant to gently unclog pores and also inhibits melanocyes (pigment producing cells) to help lighten dark spots.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid): Is a natural antioxidant that is known to reduce melanin formation and make the skin appear more radiant.

Retinol/Retinoids: In addition to helping reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, retinoids increase cell turnover in the skin acting as a "chemical exfoliant" and therefore help to brighten.

Lignin peroxidase: A naturally occurring enzyme that targets and breaks down melanin to reveal a visibly lighter, more radiant and exceptionally luminous skin tone.

Licorice root: Known for its brightening properties, licorice plant contains an ingredient called glabridin which inhibits pigmentation, according to the National Center for Biotechnology.

Glycolic acid (a form of an alpha hydroxy acid) is a good exfoliant and a natural skin brightening agent.

"It's important to remember that many of these brightening agents work best in combination. Ask your dermatologist if they think you need one of the prescription agents or if something over the counter is sufficient," says Weinstein. "Reversing brown spots - whether they are sun spots or post inflammatory hyperpigmention from acne or injuries- is a process. It doesn't happen overnight so the key is to be patient, maintain a regular routine with using your creams and always, always apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to protect the skin from darkening or developing new sunspots."

A few of our favorites.

Perricone MD Thio:Plex Intensive 2-Step brightening system, which is a two-part combo that makes your visage brighter, more even and smoother. Fans of Cold Plasma will rejoice, because these babies are just as good.

Chantecaille Blanc Gardenia Brightening Essence, from one of our most-beloved brands. It makes age spots less obvious and helps skin look more firm and toned. Yes, please.

Dermalogica C-12 Pure Bright serum helps prevent hyperpigmentation and leaves your skin feeling baby-smooth.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic Acid + Retinol brightening solution uses cherries -- yes, cherries! -- as well as fennel and artichokes to deal with dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles.

CHANEL Le Blanc brightening pearl soap and makeup remover, which works as great as it looks. Fun fact: this writer's child thought the ball of soap was was edible and tried it.

Diorsnow UV Shield BB creme, which protects your delicate visage while also acting as a brightening agent. Magic, eh?

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