16 Important Facts on Skin Lightening

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Skin lightening remedies abound throughout the cosmetic industry. Many people are interested in lightening their skin for a number of reasons — we will expound upon later– very few are truly aware of the various options there really are and the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

skin lighteningIt is very important to understand the process of skin lightening, the extent that skin can be safely lightened, as well as many other important facts before deciding on and pursuing any particular course of skin lightening treatment.

In order to dispel some of the myths that commonly associate the realm skin lightening, here is a collection of some very  important things you should educate yourself on to make the most enlightened decisions when considering the most appropriate skin lightening solution for you.

1: Skin Lightening is Like Tanning in Reverse!

There are many different treatments, topical creams, ointments, procedures and poultices that claim to lighten the skin. The thing that is common in all the options that bring long lasting results is that –just like tanning — they attempt to affect the amounts of melanin in the skin.

Melanin is the the stuff that gives skin its color, darker skins have higher melanin quantities and lighter skins have less. In the sunlight, melanin is increased and the skin becomes darker, we see that the effects of tanning are very diverse causing some people to develop golden-bronze tones while some people just look cooked.

In the same way, skin lightening attempts to reduce the melanin in the skin and cause the skin to become lighter. The results are similarly diverse, of course, and just like artificial tanning options, artificial skin whitening has a long way to go to go before it is perfected.

2: People Lighten Their Skin for Purely Aesthetic Reasons.

The reasons people lighten their skin are generally aesthetic, that is they care about the way they look. There are no medical conditions that are addressed by skin lightening.

Skin hyperacne spotspigmentation -or an abnormal amount of melanin concentrated in one spot–is often expressed in sunspots, acne spots , age spots and such but is not a medical condition per se.

Nevertheless, there are many reasons to seek skin lightening treatment. For instance, acne can leave scarring and discoloration of the skin, skin lightening procedures can improve the visual side of acne scarring and make this unsightly blemish easier to cope with.

Age spots, sometimes known as liver spots,  are another popular reason for seeking skin lightening treatments. Age spots appear as as flat on skin discolorations in a variety of colors from light pink and plumb to dark brown.

These age spots tend to be tough customers at times but skin lightening has proven to be the most effective treatment.

3: There is No One Size Fits all Treatment

The way the body colors its skin is highly individualized and is a product of our genetic heritage as well as our location on the planet, age, amount of time spent outdoors and more. This being said, you can’t expect the same results as everybody else.

The cosmetic industry is making great leaps in skin lightening technology –and some of the more effective treatments are listed below– but for now the fact is: results may be different from what you see advertised on the box. (Its important to read the small print)

This is a good reason to approach any treatment course with patience and carefully observe the process and rate your personal results rather than attempt to compare them with someone else’s.  You may have to try a couple of options before you find the best one for you so patience is key.

Facts on Treatment Options 5 Important Ingredients to Look Out For in Skin Lightening Ointments.

4: Tretinoin

tretinoin creamTretinoin is an ingredient commonly used in topical ointment addressing a number of skin conditions. Usually, this chemical is found in acne ointments but has seen applications in anti-wrinkle creams, stretch mark treatments and other effects of aging.

Tretinoin has been marketed for effects with discoloring but has the added side effects of lowering your skin’s natural resistance to UVA and UVB rays –which can increase melanin levels and take you right back where you started.

Tretinoin is only available from a doctor with a prescription

5: Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone has attracted much fame –and controversy– in the skin lightening industry.  Hydroquinone is an active ingredient in a variety of topical ointments and directly targets the melanin levels of the skin; making it highly effective at lightening skin and reversing the effects of skin hyperpigmentation.

Hydroquinone is available in many over the counter skin lightening products. Although, the percentages in an over-the-counter treatment will be considerably lower –perhaps 2%– than what you could get with a prescription –4%– as per FDA regulations.

Hydroquinone does come with some important caveats — and has been banned in some countries that consider it a health risk. It is by far one of the most effective treatment options for skin lightening, however, reports are pretty scathing when describing what long term usage and large doses of this chemical can do.

6: Kojic Acid

kojic acid creamAnother controversial component of many topical ointments is Kojic Acid, a byproduct of the rice fermentation process. Much like Hydroquinone, kojic acid is suspected of being a carcinogenic — especially when used in large quantities.

Although, the carcinogenic properties of these treatments are somewhat balanced by other ingredients.

7: Niacinamide

The safest chemical in the selection is Niacinamide — so safe it can be used on the genitalia with no  fear of side effects.The fact that niacinamide has no adverse side effects make it a good choice for addressing discoloration due to acne scarring and also minimizing the appearance of fine wrinkles.

8: Mercury

Believe it or not this well known toxic metal has found applications in various skin lightening treatments. Mercury is a well known bleacher and it would hardly be a surprise if it minimizes melanin as well. You are strongly urged to visit a medical expert before applying any skin lightening products with mercury or any other known toxins.

Read Product labels carefully!

Laser Treatment and Skin Lightening Procedures

9: Ablative Surgery

Ablative SurgeryLike all skin lightening options, ablative surgery attempts to destroy the skin coloring melanin by means of a carbon dioxide style laser –one of the more primitive laser styles– this performs a type of chemical peel on the layer of the skin rich in melanin.

Again, results to this type of surgery are irregular and have resulted in hyperpigmentation –spots that are darker–as well as hypopigmentation –spots that are lighter. So its like a box of chocolates– you never know what you’ll get.

10: Non-Ablative and Semi-Ablative Surgeries

Another method of surgery attempts to accomplish the same task without damaging the skin, this is non ablative surgery. The method involves coagulating key points in the skin and affecting the skin tones like this.

Semi-Ablative surgery –as its name implies uses combinations of both types of surgery to , reputedly, proffer superior results. These are the more popular forms of surgical skin lightening, and have had the most satisfied customers.

11: Cryosurgery

CryosurgeryUnderstandably the least popular surgery treatment for skin hyperpigmentation is cryosurgery.  Cryosurgery works by damaging specific skin cells and allowing them to heal naturally and this reduces the natural skin pigments.

Again results vary but many people choose this method of treatment for addressing sensitive areas of the anatomy.

Natural and Non-intrusive Treatments

12: The Pill Form

There are other treatments in their experimental stages –there are, as yet, no clinical results confirming or denying their effects or success in treating skin hyperpigmentation.  These are available online and often contain one or more active ingredients that reduce the levels of melanin in the skin.

Vitamin C has been linked to having skin lightening properties and is a common ingredient in these skin lightening pills.

It would be wise to consult a physician before beginning any treatment by medication as the effects will be transmitted through the blood rather than topically through the skin.

13. Natural Methods

There are also many natural methods of whitening the skin. Yogurt is high in lactic acid –a natural bleaching agent. Mixed with oatmeal this can be applied in mask form to the face daily, this technique comes highly recommended by naturopaths everywhere.

Yogurt and Oats PackCitrus acids and Vitamin C have lightening and exfoliating properties and have also been used in a number of natural DIY masks that can be made with things in your home. There are many online resources with indications and instructions for DIY special masks to address skin lightening.

Finding a natural method will involve require a great deal of dedicated and consistent efforts to see results, but they will also be safe and very cost effective.

14. A Point on Enhancing Treatment Results

You may find that by carefully combining a couple of treatment options you can enhance the individual results of two or three treatment plans. This does not mean that you should bombard your sun spots  with 9 different topical ointments right after ablative surgery.

Rather, you should invest a good deal of time into researching the best options for you and have a medical professional help you develop the best course of action for your specific situation.

Discussing the treatments with a physician is highly recommended, especially if you are on any other medication — for heart disease, diabetes etc.– as treatments can collide and bring negative side effects.

15.  Choosing Treatment plans Carefully

HydroquinoneNot every poison will kill you and not every elixir is going to work when it comes to skin whitening treatments. It is very important to research any treatment option and their side effects inside and out before committing yourself to the process.

That being said, hydroquinone is an FDA approved treatment for skin whitening, and used in small doses is quite safe. If  hydroquinone is used under the directions indicated –and not slathered across the body liberally– it is a safe and effective treatment for hyperpigmentation.

16. Safety First

The best way to keep your skin looking beautiful is by taking good care of it — the sun can quickly make sun spots darker, dehydrates the skin and is generally the enemy of a healthy complexion. So always apply plenty of sunscreen to exposed skin when you go outdoors.

When seeking out treatments for hyperpigmentation, always begin by opting for the safest and least intrusive means of addressing conditions of the skin before moving onto harsher treatments.  You and your skin will be with each other for a very long time so the little care and patience you invest now will payoff in bucketloads later.

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