Skin Lightening Treatment Options For The Face

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Skin lightening can be used to treat several different types of skin problem. The most common reasons to use skin brighteners or bleaching products are hyperpigmentation from hormone imbalances, age spots and acne scars. Although pigmentation variations can occur anywhere on the body, they commonly affect the face. This is also the area which can make people feel most self conscious about how they look.

There are numerous products available which claim to have a whitening effect. Although many of these claims are credible, some of the products may be overstating the effects and some bleaching creams may even be dangerous. It is essential that you understand many things to consider in a skin lightening product and that you are only purchasing them from a reputable source.

What Causes Dark Pigmentation?

sun exposure on facePigmentation is determined by the level of melanin in your skin. How much melanin is produced by your melanocyte cells is largely a result of your genetics, but certain factors such as sun exposure and medical conditions can increase the production.

People with darker skin tones may also develop acne marks which are brown in appearance, and which contain higher levels of melanin.

Melanin production will often return to the body’s natural level over time, for example sun tans and acne marks will fade. But hyperpigmentation conditions and age spots may be permanent unless they are treated.

Skin lighteners contain active ingredients which affect the amount of melanin secreted by the melanocytes. As the levels of melanin in the affected area drops, the skin will take on a lighter tone. This can help to even out patches of darkened pigmentation.

Choosing A Skin Lightener

Skin lighteners must only contain ingredients which are approved by the FDA. You also need to be aware of what is considered to be a safe concentration for certain bleaching agents, because some online sources illegally sell products which are considered dangerous by American industry standards. Using unapproved topical treatments puts you at risk of seriously damaging your skin.

HydroquinoneOne of the most popular skin lightening ingredients is hydroquinone. This acts on the melanocytes to prevent over production of melanin, and is considered very effective.

However, there are some associated risks when the ingredient is used in higher concentrations. If you are looking to buy an over the counter cream, you will not be able to purchase one with a higher hydroquinone concentration than two percent. This should still be enough to lighten your skin by one shade.

If the hyperpigmentation is extremely noticeable then you will probably need a topical treatment which has a higher concentration of around four percent. This concentration can only be bought via a prescription from a dermatologist or a doctor. Never buy four percent or more hydroquinone creams without a prescription as the seller is unlikely to be reputable, and the product may contain banned substances such as mercury.

Skin brighteners which list arbutin as its active ingredient are also based on hydroquinone, as arbutin is a derivative. This does not require a prescription and the levels a product can contain are not regulated. However, the results will be much poorer than with hydroquinone, and arbutin is best used in cases where the pigmentation differences are minor.

kojic acid creamHydroquinone and its derivatives can cause skin sensitivity in some people. If you find this to be the case for you, you may want to try an alternative product such as kojic acid.

This is a natural ingredient which is derived from a fungus, and which reduces melanin production by interfering with tyrosinase activity.

Kojic acid should be tried only if hydroquinone has proved problematic, as it is less effective. A cream which contains kojic acid is the equivalent of using a hydroquinone product with a concentration of around one percent. It is also worth keeping in mind that kojic acid can also trigger irritation and dermatitis in some users.

Retin-A, also known as retinoic acid, is also worth considering if other treatments have been unsatisfactory. Retinoic acid reduces melanin in the epidermal layer and increases cell turnover, both of which have a brightening effect. A recent clinical trial showed that hyperpigmentation improved in up to seventy percent of patients.

Another common ingredient in skin lighteners is azelaic acid, which is often combined with lower concentrations of hydroquinone. Azelaic acid performs well in clinical trials when used for treating hyperpigmentation conditions which result from abnormal melanocytes. However, it cannot be used for lightening normal pigmentation (such as skin tone or freckles), and has limited effectiveness on skin conditions such as liver spots.

If you are wary about applying chemicals to your face, there are more natural ingredients which are linked with skin whitening. One of the most effective of these is liquorice extract. Like kojic acid, this works by inhibiting tyrosinase activity. It is often combined with other natural ingredients such as mulberry extract to make it more effective.

licorice extractIt is natural to want to see fast results from a lightening product, but the effects can take time to become noticeable.

You may need to use a product for six months or more to see results. Opting for a cream containing salicylic acid can speed up this time frame, as it stimulates cell renewal.

If you want to reduce hyperpigmentation and create a more even skin tone, there  are numerous topical treatments available. If you find that your bleaching creams causes side effects such as sensitivity, you should discontinue use immediately.

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