While brightening products have always been wildly popular in Asia, it was the February 2010 launch of Clinique’s Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector that sparked a craze in the U.S. The category’s sales have catapulted from $190 million in 2009 to an expected $350 million last year, according to the NPD Group’s senior global industry analyst Karen Grant, a number that is expected to grow exponentially this year thanks to a spate of launches in both the mass and prestige markets.

Ranging from the high tech to the natural, brands are utilizing ingredients like white birch, wild ginger and liquid silver as well as futuristic proprietary formulas to inhibit melanin production and even out skin tone. “The market is shifting in terms of skin care; there is a more comprehensive approach to antiaging, where wrinkles are a component of the equation, not the main driver,” says Grant. “The conversation now is about texture, spots and unevenness.” New this season: Items from Chanel, Shiseido, StriVectin, Dior and others.

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