This Gentle New Brightening Serum Harnesses the Power of Malassezin, a Molecule With 10x More Antioxidant Power Than Vitamin C

Photo: Stocksy / ohlamour studio
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A few years back, Ann Marie Einziger had a light spot on her back caused by tinea versicolor, a common, easily treatable fungal infection."Instead of seeing that patch of skin as a nuisance and something that I wanted to get rid of, I had this counterintuitive 'aha!' moment where I was like, 'Wait, what if there's good stuff that's doing this?'" says Ann Marie, a former science teacher who never lost that sense of scientific curiosity.

Her instinct was right: Hyper and hyperpigmentation (the darkening and lightening of the skin) are both inflammatory responses that (respectively) increase or decrease your body's melanin production as a protective measure. "Because my skin was being protected, it wasn't burning in the sun and looked brighter," says Ann Marie.

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She wondered if she could harness the powers of what was happening in her skin into a topical solution. She and her husband,  Mike Einzinger (who, fun fact, is the founding guitarist of the band Incubus), worked to amass a team of leading scientists—including Pearl Grimes, MD, a board-certified dermatologist who is the head of the Vitiligo and Pigmentation Institute of Southern California. Together, they discovered  Malassezin, a molecular compound that comes from a yeast called Malassezia furfur (the same one that causes dandruff), lives on the skin, and regulates melanin production.

Now, you can experience all that Malassezin has to offer in the Mother Science Molecular Hero Serum ($89). It heroes the novel molecule and is complemented by soothing and brightening niacinamide and restorative Alpine rose extract.

"The three ways that we help with excess pigment is we slow the transport of melanin to the uppermost layers of the skin cell through the melanocytes," says Ann Marie. "We also are able to slow the excess production of melanin. And then lastly, we slow the transfer from the melanocyte, which is the highway-like structure that melanin travels up through, to the keratinocyte, the top layer of your skin cells."

Malassezin has 10 times more antioxidants than vitamin C—which has long been lauded as the gold standard for brightening—allowing it to provide amazing protection from free-radical damage that can cause premature signs of aging. It's also far more stable than vitamin C, which is notorious for fast degradation. "We've tested it for years now because we've had this molecule sitting around in bottles, and we're able to go back every once in a while and see that molecule's still stable," says Ann Marie.

Because Malassezin has a calming effect on the skin, it can do its work without causing irritation. "It activates the skin's endogenous antioxidant mechanism, which is its natural antioxidant defense mechanism," says Mike. The team was able to figure out that the ingredient works sans irritation through Repeat Irritation Patch Testing. "Basically, people put it on their skin over and over again," says Ann Marie. "We got hundreds of people to do this who had self-reported sensitive skin. We then asked, 'Did you experience any irritation?' Of the 200 people who did this, there were zero reports of inflammation."

The brand uses biotechnology to synthesize and scale Malassezin in a lab, taking what Mother Nature gave us and enhancing it—hence the brand name, Mother Science.

"Mother Nature is ancient and good. She takes care of us, and we take care of her," says Ann Marie. "Fewer people know about Mother Science, mainly because I made her up. But Mother Science, to me, is another entity that we can lean on, much like Mother Nature, for wisdom and who provides solutions to our problems. And the wisdom that Mother Science gives us is both ancient and modern. When you take something like Malassezin, it's a molecule that's existed on human skin for hundreds of millions of years, but we synthesize it using cutting-edge technology. That way,y we're able to sustainably scale up activity. We're not growing plants and then throwing them away, like tossing the whole husk of an aloe plant to get alow juice. We're not taking beeswax and collapsing a bee colony. We're making just what we need, efficiently, cleanly—and to me, that is a future in sustainable beauty."

Using the Mother Science Molecular Hero Serum

I've been using the Mother Science Molecular Hero Serum for about a week and love it so far. Of course, it's too soon to see any results, but I can say that it goes on smoothly, dries down fast without feeling sticky, and lays nicely under sunscreen and makeup. Plus, it doesn't sensitize your skin to the sun or interfere with other active ingredients—meaning you can use it morning or night. Use it to replace all of your other serums or add it to your rotation to enhance your routine.

"If you're using a highly irritating retinol, you can still use Malassezin, and it's probably gonna supercharge your retinol because it's working in a different way," says Ann Marie. "I like to look at this as you're pulling different levers in addressing different issues in your skin with the products you use. We're pulling on a new lever that never existed before, which complements all the other levers you're pulling."

But wait, there's more!
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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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