Even when my skin is at its best, hyperpigmentation is a constant concern. It almost feels like a new dark spot will appear if I so much as stare at my face for too long. The skin issue has been my white whale for as long as I can remember... until I found the Topicals Faded serum.
My first interactions with the relatively new beauty brand were on Instagram. Sponsored posts for the serum popped up in my feed several times and, because I am a sucker for good packaging, the pastel pink tube and its 2000s-style skateboard brand font were immediately appealing. The product was constantly sold out whenever I tried buying it, though, which only added to my intrigue. Finally, after months of waiting, I got my hands on the elixir that promised to clear spots and scars.
What happened next is a euphoric blur. Faded worked so well I actually grew to love my skin. When I finished my tube, I went a couple of months without it when I realized I must never run out of the serum ever again. Here’s why it’s such a game-changer.
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First Up: The Basics
Topicals launched in August of 2020, just less than a year ago, with only two products: Like Butter, a moisturizing treatment, and Faded, the serum I’m about to gush about. Faded is sold on the brand’s website as well as at Sephora — but right now, there doesn’t seem to be a single available tube on this entire green earth. It’s sold out or on backorder at all online retailers.
The concoction is so covetable because it lives up to its name. Basically, Faded is a brightening and clearing gel-serum packed with top-notch skin-boosters like niacinamide (a vitamin with superpowers when it comes to acne and discoloration), azelaic acid, which expedites your cell turnover (and results in a more even complexion), and tranexamic acid, a sensitive-skin friendly ingredient known for combatting hyperpigmentation.
Though it’s strong, it’s gentle enough to use a few times a week (I’ll sometimes use it every day). The thin coat you apply has to be worked into the skin super well or you’ll definitely encounter pilling. And, like any serum, it’s meant to be sandwiched into your routine between your toner and your moisturizer.
Why I’m Obsessed
First of all, this may be an unpopular opinion, but I think all of the best skin care products smell funky. My previous holy grail product was Biologique Recherche’s infamously rank-smelling P50 toner, so I appreciate a product that smells medicinal. Faded happens to smell like Nair.
Topicals was founded by a woman of color — so I was excited to try a brightening formula created with darker skin tones like mine in mind. Founder Olamide Olowe explained to me that this meant avoiding common illuminating ingredients like resorcinol and hydroquinone, both of which have been shown to cause ochronosis (permanent pigment cell death) in WOC, a condition that shows up as blue-black or grayish-blue skin spots.
The effects of using this product are pretty quick — I saw newer dark spots disappear within a week. Older hyperpigmentation areas that seemed immune to any sort of treatment or concealer even began to fade away. The overall condition of my skin, which was usually uneven, patchy, and full of discoloration, started improving overall. My complexion is also extremely sensitive so any sort of product like this, that promises clarity and treatment, makes me nervous. But it is extremely gentle — I have never experienced a single second of irritation or discomfort.
The most obvious difference in my skin occurred during the weeks after I finished my tube. Suddenly my face looked dull and lifeless. Why was my hyperpigmentation back with such a vengeance? I realized the issue: It was missing Faded... which is why I vow to be covered in it forevermore.
As a woman of color that’s almost always battling hyperpigmentation, Faded has become a godsend. Sure the smell is strong and weird, but it fades my old and new dark spots alike, brightens up my skin, and makes me look like a spring chicken. Hot tip: Since it’s continually sold out, take my advice and always order two tubes at a time.