To establish a pigmentation spot model on human skin and to assess whitening efficacy for whitening products by this established pigmentation spot model.
Twenty subjects between 20 and 45 years old with skin phototype III or IV were selected. Three consecutive daily UV exposures were performed on buttocks of the subjects as follows: Day 1=1 minimal erythema dose (MED), Day 2=0.5 MED and Day 3=0.5 MED. After the first UV exposure, a selected whitening product was applied to the subjects twice a day on UV exposure area. The application of the whitening product to subjects on the exposed areas was continued till Day 27. CM2500d chromameter, Maxmeter MX18 and visual evaluation were used to assess changes of skin color.
A pigmentation spot model after UV exposure was established. The measurement of the pigment spot showed that L* value declined abruptly at Day 3 and then slowly reached to a lowest point at Day 6. L* value of the pigment spot almost remained at the same level until Day 20, thereafter increased slowly. The a* value showed an abrupt increase at Day 3 and slowly reached to a maximal level at Day 6. The a* value slowly declined toward its baseline level. Likewise, the erythema index also increased significantly at Day 3, and reached to a maximal level at Day 6 and then slowly declined. However, L*, a* and erythema indices did not return to their baseline levels during the 27-day period of this study. On the other hand, b* value started to increase from Day 3 and such increase was observed continuously to Day 27. Melanin index also showed a slow increase during the first 3 days. It started to increase rapidly from Day 3 and a to maximal level at Day 9 and maintain at a plateau till Day 27 (with an exception at Day 13). To assess the whitening product by this pigmentation spot model, DeltaL, Deltab*, and DeltaM values were analyzed. It showed that absolute DeltaL value and Deltab*value of whitening products were lower than those values of the vehicle of the whitening product at each checkpoint, while DeltaM value of the whitening product was lower only at Day 9 and Day 20, although no statistically significant differences was found. The visual results also strongly supported that the whitening product enhanced the decrease of pigmentation.
This study showed that repeated UV exposure was able to induce a long extensive period of pigment formation. The resulted pigmentation spot was able to maintain at an elevated level till Day 20. Clinical subjective evaluations together with combined objective instrument measurements were still important to assess whitening and spot-removing ability of a material due to the instrument limitation for color differentiations. This kind of pigmentation spot model can be used to assess whitening efficacy for whitening or spot-removing products. In addition, the combinations of subjective and objective methods were able to serve as advisable references to assess the whitening efficacy of products.