Skin Lightening


skin lightening products have come a long way in recent years, providing people with the opportunity to alter the pigmentation of their skin to a brighter tone. For anyone contemplating the prospect of skin whitening, it is important to prioritize safety as well as effectiveness.

Why You Might Consider Skin Lightening

The process of skin lightening is not recommended as a feasible measure for brightening the complete complexion.  Products like skin brightening cream are not intended to convert a person’s entire skin tone, or to attempt to alter their outward ethnic appearance.

A whitening cream is absolutely effective in evening out any irregularities related to skin pigmentation. There are quite a number of skin conditions that merit the use of skin lightening cream to modify the coloration of specific areas of the skin. Skin lightening can be used effectively in the following circumstances, among others:

  • Moles: A mole (known scientifically as Melanocytic nevus) is a skin growth with a high concentration of pigmentation. Moles are most often the size of a pencil eraser or smaller, but they can grow to the size of a nickel or even a quarter. Many moles are raised from the surrounding skin, and their very dark coloring makes them stand out even more. If a biopsy of a mole shows the growth to be malignant, the mole should be removed entirely, rather than bleached.
  • Birthmark: Some people are born with patches of irregularly colored skin, known as birthmarks. There are a number of different types of birthmarks, ranging from a dark purplish red (a “port wine stain” birthmark) to shades of brown (a “café au lait” birthmark).  A skin lightening product applied to the birthmark can help it lighten until it matches the surrounding skin.
  • Freckles:  These dark spots of extra pigmentation show up on the skin as brown dots on the skin. Unlike moles, freckles are not physically raised from the skin’s surface, so there will be no trace of them once their coloring is lightened.
  • Vitiligo: This relatively rare skin condition results in irregular patches of lightly colored skin, most often appearing on the hands and feet, or near bodily openings like the genitals, nostrils, eyes, mouth, ears. The affected areas can’t be restored to the original hue, but the patient may choose a vigorous course of skin lightening in order to make the rest of the skin match the affected areas.
  • Anal and genital bleaching: The skin of the perianal and genital areas is often a naturally darker skin tone, but a lightening product can balance the skin tones.

In all of the above cases, the irregular skin coloring can be counteracted by the use of a safe and effective skin lightening process.

A Dermatologist’s Guidance

There are several different approaches a person can take in order to lighten the skin. Some of them are medical procedures requiring the work of a dermatologist or surgeon, while others can be safely performed at home with over-the-counter skin lightening products.  Treatments that require the involvement of a physician include laser treatments and cryosurgery, a procedure in which liquid nitrogen is used to freeze away areas of hyper pigmentation.

The guidance of a dermatologist is suggested even when the patient intends to use non-prescription preparations.  The doctor can provide recommendations and precautions for various products.  Their insights can be particularly helpful because of their knowledge of the relevant skin conditions, active ingredients of the various products, and the individual patient’s sensitivity to constituent components of the proposed treatments.

Skin Lightening Options

active ingredients of skin lightening products include the following:

  • Tretinoin: Also called retinoic acid, tretinoin is effective if the patient takes care to avoid sunlight. Tanning can reverse the effectiveness of the treatment, and the skin also becomes extremely sensitized to UV rays.
  • Hydroquinone: This product works by suppressing the production of melanin, the pigment which darkens skin. Some cosmetics are available with a two percent concentration of hydroquinone in the foundation.
  • Arbutin: This compound is a natural “building block” that enables the body to produce its own hydroquinone.
  • Kojic acid: Like hydroquinone, this compound inhibits the body’s manufacture of melatonin. Its alternative form, kojic dipalmitate, is also a strong antioxidant, preventing damage to the skin cells even while it works to change their coloration.
  • Azelaic acid: This compound serves double-duty as an acne treatment and a balancer of skin tones. Cream formulas of azelaic acid usually range from ten to twenty percent concentration,
  • Vitamin C: This antioxidant has been proven to lighten skin, especially when taken in conjunction with Ly-cysteine and Vitamin E.
  • Cinnamomum subavenium: This Chinese herb prevents the body from producing an enzyme that is needed for the production of melanin.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids: Known individually as glycolic acid and lactic acid, these compounds penetrate the skin and destroys cells where melanin is building up.
  • Niacinamide: In addition to being an effective acne treatment, this compound lightens skin safely and without side effects.

With any of these substances, you should follow the directions (and the suggestions of your dermatologist) carefully to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks.

Risks to Avoid

Taking note of potential risks is particularly important as you talk with your dermatologist or research your options. Some Hydroquinone in the recent past have turned out to be actively toxic to those who used it. Mercurous chloride, for example, turned out to cause fatal illnesses in many of the people who had hoped to be helped by it.

Other compounds may not be outright toxic, but do cause allergic reactions or other repercussions of epidermal irritation. Frustrated patients found that their skin coloration issues had merely given way to different issues of rashes and discomfort. It is a good idea to pre-test the skin lightening product on a small area of the skin before beginning its use with a widespread application. If a negative reaction ensues, it will only affect that small test area.



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