The Science Behind Skin Whitening Cream – Pros and Cons

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The Science Behind Skin Whitening Cream - Pros and Cons

A skin whitening cream may be the answer to your prayers for flawless, fair and whiter skin. The use of skin lightening creams has always tempted those on the quest for clearer skin. The methods used in the past were mostly herbal and less sophisticated. The skin whitening creams people use today are more potent, sophisticated and are scientifically proven to work.

Your skin is the most sensitive part of your body. Before using a skin lightener, you must carefully probe into its ingredients. What works for everyone may not work so well for you, so you need to be extra cautious while selecting a skin lightening cream.

This article will cover the different aspects of skin lightening and different methods used for skin brightening. It will walk you through the basics of skin complexion and how skin lightening creams work in general. More importantly, it will talk about the pros and cons of using a skin bleaching cream.

Understanding Your Skin Complexion

darker complexionYour skin is a complicated yet amazing structure. Out of the several things that affect your appearance, your skin complexion is the most significant. But, what determines your skin complexion? Let’s find out.

Your skin consists of countless tiny cells that clump to form several skin layers. Each of these layers has different types of skin cells. The bottom most layer of your skin, also known as the basal skin layer, consists of a peculiar cell type. These cells are called the melanocytes.

Melanocytes are so named because they function to synthesize a pigment called melanin. Melanin is a black pigment responsible for your skin complexion. Is there any practical purpose for this pigment, or is it just there to give you a darker complexion?

You may think of melanin as something unnecessary, but it is a necessary evil, in fact it is critical for your health. Melanin absorbs most of the ultraviolet (UV) radiation coming from the sun. This way, it prevents dangerous radiation from causing harm to your body tissues.

On the downside, the more melanin you have, the darker is your skin complexion. The only way to have whiter and fairer looking skin is by stopping melanin synthesis. That is how most skin whitener creams work. More detail about these creams is in the text to come.

The Two Sides of the Picture: The Pros and Cons of Skin Whitening Creams

If you wish to use a skin whitening cream for black skin or a skin whitening soap, then you should keep the following pros and cons in mind:

1. Skin Whitening Creams Do Not Just Bleach; They Produce Skin Whitening

Although called skin bleach, most skin bleach products do a lot more than just bleaching. They can produce lasting results. These creams do not just create superficial whitening. Instead, they seep deep into your skin and block the processes that lead to skin darkening.

The Science Behind Skin Whitening Cream

A skin whitening cream works by suppressing the amount of melanin in your skin. To understand how that happens, let’s look into the working details of the hydroquinone cream; which is the most commonly used skin bleach cream.

whitening creamsAccording to research, hydroquinone is the most widely used ingredient in skin whitening creams. According to statistics, an estimated 10 to 15 million hydroquinone cream preparations are sold in the United States every year.

Here is what science has to say about the workings of this product:

  • Hydroquinoneinhibits the enzymes pivotal for melanin synthesis. Out of the several enzymes that play an important role in the melanin synthesis, tyrosinase is the most important. Tyrosinase is the centerpiece for melanogenesis or melanin synthesis. So, inhibition of this enzyme means a complete shutdown of the melanin synthesis process.

Hydroquinone and most of the other skin lightener creams target this enzyme. These products effectively block this enzyme, which then leads to a significant reduction in the melanin synthesis.

  • Hydroquinone cream nips the evil in the bud. Here is what this means. Everything that happens in your body is under the influence of the DNA in your cells. DNA is the super computer of your body cells and issues signals for all the processes taking place in your body.

In other words, the synthesis of melanin is also under the control of the DNA of your melanocytes. Hydroquinone cream stops the DNA of melanocytes from issuing signals for melanin synthesis. This blockade decreases the synthesis of melanin and ultimately there is less melanin in your skin.

Other skin whitening creams also work because:

  • They increase skin turn over. Melanin tends to accumulate in the deeper, older cell layers of your skin. Some skin lightening creams help you get rid of these older skin layers. Here is how.

whitening bleachSome skin whitening bleach products help increase the rate at which the cells of your skin divide. When this happens, the older cell layers are readily replaced with the newer cell layers of the skin. The newer skin cells have low melanin content and therefore the skin appears fairer and whiter than before.

  • They decrease oxidative stress.Oxidative stress occurs when toxins start to build up in your body. In other words, oxidative stress is an index of toxic build-up in your body. Besides compromising your overall health, oxidative stress specifically targets the melanocytes in your skin.

Oxidative stress triggers the melanin synthesis in your skin cells and you end up with more melanin in your skin. Most of the skin whitening creams have potent antioxidants in them. These antioxidants help decrease the amount of oxidative stress in your body.

With oxidative stress out of the picture, the amount of melanin in your skin also decreases.

  • They block UV rays that comefrom the sun. The UV rays from the sun wreak havoc on your skin health, especially on your skin complexion. The more you are exposed to these harmful radiations, greater is the synthesis of melanin in your skin. Several ingredients in skin bleach creams put a stop to this cycle.

Ingredients in several skin lightening creams act as an effective sunscreen and stop the UV radiations from reaching the deeper skin layers and promoting melanin synthesis.

  • They promote skin hydration. Skin hydration is an index of your skin health. Better skin hydration means better skin health and fairer skin tone too. Skin whitening creams also help improve the hydration status of your skin.
  • They improve skin circulation. Many skin bleach products, including any homemade skin whitening cream with herbal ingredients, can improve the circulation of blood to your skin. Improved skin circulation can help improve cell turnover and overall health of the skin cells.

2. The Trends Are Changing: Today’s Skin Whitening Creams Have Natural and Safer Ingredients

blueberryToday, thousands of skin whitening creams have flooded the market. Most of these products are loaded with chemical ingredients that produce results that are too good to be true. But, most of these ingredients have a wide range of side effects, too. Such ingredients include hydroquinone and mercury. The details of the side effects of these ingredients are in the text to come.

As the awareness about skin lightening creams increases, the trends are changing and the ingredients now used are mostly natural and side effect free. Here are some of the natural ingredients now used in skin whitening creams:

  • Arbutin: Arbutin is a natural ingredient derived from the dried leaves of the blueberry plant. You may find this ingredient in an underarm whitening cream. Research shows that arbutin is 10 times more potent than ordinary skin whitening chemical ingredients found in the skin whitening products. It decreases the activity of tyrosinase, the enzyme pivotal for the synthesis of melanin, but unlike the chemical ingredients, its toxicity is minimal and produces only minor side effects.
  • Niacinamide: It is the active form of niacin or vitamin B3. Deficiency of this vitamin can lead to the hyperpigmentation of your skin. Use of the products with niacinamide, on the other hand, can produce significant skin whitening. Here is how this happens.

Once your melanocytes are done with the synthesis of melanin, they pack it in the form of tiny packet like structures called melanosomes. Melanosomes then migrate to the superficial skin cells called the keratinocytes and get deposited there. So, the color of your skin depends on the quantity of melanosomes that make it to your superficial skin layers.

Niacinamide blocks the transfer of melanosomes to the superficial skin layers. A Japanese research study has shed some light on the skin whitening effects of this vitamin. According to that research, use of products with niacinamide in them can cause up to a 70% reduction in the transfer of melanosomes from the deeper skin layers to the superficial skin layers. The research further showed that the use of products with niacinamide produces significant skin whitening with virtually no side effects.whitening soap

  • Kojic Acid: Your skin whitening soap may have kojic acid as its main ingredient instead of hydroquinone. According to research, kojic acid works in a way similar to hydroquinone. Furthermore, the efficacy of kojic acid is also similar to hydroquinone. Most importantly, research shows that kojic acid produces results that last longer when compared to hydroquinone.
  • Vitamin C: You may find this ingredient in almost every skin-care product and that is for a good reason too. Vitamin C increases skin elasticity, skin vascularity and hydration. It is a potent inhibitor of melanin synthesis too. Moreover, it is an effective antioxidant that helps flush toxins out of your body.
  • Licorice extract
  • Lemon juice
  • Mulberry extract
  • Emblica extract
  • Glycolic acid

3. What’s the Trade-Off: Side Effects of Prolonged Use of Skin Whitening Creams

This side effect of the mainstream skin whitening creams will make you think twice before using them. According to research, prolonged use of skin lightening creams can have a number of negative effects on the skin. One of these negative effects is the loss of skin elasticity. This effect is particularly pronounced with the use of products having hydroquinone as their main ingredient.use of chemical

Hydroquinone leads to decreased activity of melanocytes and decreased melanin production. But it also makes melanocytes pass down to the deeper skin layers. Once the melanocytes pass down to the deeper skin layers, they transform into another type of skin cells called the fibroblasts. The activity of fibroblasts decreases the amount and quality of proteins in your skin and you end up losing the elasticity of your skin.

To put in simple words, with the use of chemical whitening creams, you actually trade your youthfulness for skin whitening, which does not even last long.

4. When Chaos Hits Your Kidneys: The Damage from Chemical Skin Whitening Creams

You may not see an obvious link between a skincare product and your kidney health, but there exists a profound link between these two and some of the skincare products are highly toxic to your kidneys. Here is how this works.

Once you eat something or apply anything to your skin, it eventually gets absorbed into your body. Once inside your body, that product gets broken down into waste chemicals that have to be excreted out of your body. Kidneys, being the main excretory structures of your body, start excreting these chemicals out.

But the story does not end there.

Once you use a skin-care product or any cosmetic for long enough, the quantity of the waste chemicals starts to build up in your body. This build up then starts to damage your organs, especially your kidneys. The chemicals in skin-care products notorious for their toxic effects on the kidneys include hydroquinone and mercury.

Results of animal research have shown that the use of skin-care products with these chemicals causes a significant reduction in the function of kidneys. In some instances, these chemicals can cause irreversible damage to your kidneys.

So, you should be extra vigilant with the use of these products if you are already suffering from any kidney disease. Always consult your dermatologist or your doctor before the use of any such product.

5. Skin Whitening Cream is Not for Everyone: Allergic Side Effects

Skin Whitening CreamDespite the popular advertisements about the safety or efficacy of a skin lightener, you must understand that every product is not for everyone. What produces excellent results for others may be useless for you. Not to mention, that product may actually cause allergic reactions. Natural or synthetic, you may be allergic to some constituents of a skin whitening cream.

Here are some tips on how to buy a skin whitening cream that suits your skin type and its needs:

  • Understand Your Skin Type: You must first understand your skin and its type, whether it is dry, oily or a combination skin. Once you have figured that out, you should then go for a product that complements your skin type. For instance, if you have an oily skin then going for a product with added oils in it will be a disaster.
  • Know Your Skin pH: This is something a bit tricky to determine. In fact, finding what pH suits your skin is largely based on hit and trial. But for the most, neutral pH works just fine. So you should aim for skin whitening creams that have a neutral or near neutral pH of seven.
  • Read The Labels Carefully: As mentioned already,synthetic products are more likely to cause adverse effects compared to natural ones. So go for the products with the above mentioned natural ingredients and try to avoid products with chemicals like hydroquinone and mercury.

Here is a quick way to tell if a product will suit your skin:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with tap water. Dry them with a clean towel afterwards.
  • Now take a small amount of the product and apply it on the back of your hand. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • If you see signs of redness or allergy, that product is perhaps not suitable for your skin and you should avoid its use.

6. The Dangers of Steroid Skin Whitening Creams

Weight gainSteroids make another common ingredient of skin lightening creams. Steroids seem to work like magic because they produce almost instantaneous effects. However, these effects are almost always short lived and come with a whole list of side effects.

Here are some side effects that you may experience with the use of steroid skin whitening products:

  • Loss of skin elasticity and thinning of the skin.
  • Swelling of the skin.
  • Poor healing if applied to the area of a wound.
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis or weak bones.
  • Weight gain and swelling.

A skin whitening cream may seem like a way out of the social stigma that comes with a darker skin color, but always remember that you are beautiful just the way you are. If you must try a lightening cream, the thoughtful selection of a product can give you lasting results with minimal side effects.

Understand your skin type and carefully investigate the ingredients of a product before applying it on your skin. Always consult your dermatologist or your doctor before using any such a product, as it may cause more harm than good. Your skin is delicate, so be sure to treat it gently and carefully by following your doctor’s recommendations.

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