What’s in your Whitening Lotion?

A lot of women and a small percentage of men desire to have lighter skin. It is because many cultures associate fair skin as beautiful, lovely, successful and more attractive to the opposite sex. So it’s not surprising that many are looking for a solution which can help them achieve a glowing complexion. Fortunately, there are a lot of options available in the market nowadays. You can choose to use cream, whitening lotion, serums, soap and facials. What you decide highly depends on your lifestyle and skin texture. There are certain chemicals or ingredients in these products which might work for your friend but is ineffective when applied to your skin. So, experts and dermatologists would recommend that you check out the ingredients on these packages and understand how each of them makes your skin lighter.

Listed below are the most common ingredients found in almost all whitening lotions and a short description on how it works:

1. Hydroquinone – This has been proven to be the most effective whitening compound available today. Many whitening products sold in the market have a low amount of about 1% of hydroquinone in it. What this chemical does is that it reduces the formation of melanin, a pigment responsible in giving the skin its color.

However, it is advisable that you consult a dermatologist before you proceed in using a product with this ingredient. Many studies have shown that prolong use of hydroquinone could result to irritation of the skin.

Moreover, data accumulated suggested that this chemical is also a form of carcinogen. But FDA did not prohibit its use because further studies are still needed to consider it as dangerous. The safest method of using hydroquinone is with the help of a dermatologist and combination of proven pharmaceutical products which help deal with the irritation while at the same time maximizing its effects

2. Kojic acid – A newly discovered ingredient added to a whitening lotion nowadays. Kojic acid, found in Japanese mushrooms, is effective because it inhibits melanin formation on the skin. You may notice that its whitening action is similar to that of hydroquinone but it is preferable because it does not cause skin irritation. Approximately 2% or maybe more of Kojic acid must be in the whitening product for it to work. Furthermore, it is also advised that you should leave the whitening product on your skin because it could take a few minutes before the acid gets absorbed by the skin.

3. Retinol – This is a derivative of vitamin A and is considered to be a key ingredient in a whitening lotion. What this compound does is that it peels the upper layers of the skin, shedding off the dark pigmentation. It is because vitamin A has a molecular structure capable of getting into the lower layer working on the collagen and elastin in it. As a result, the lower layer is exposed which is lighter as compared to the upper part.

A small concentration of Retinol also helps improve a person’s wrinkles, fine lines and skin texture. To potentiate its effects, dermatologists use it with hyrdroquinone and steroid creams but caution is always practiced because skin irritation could still occur. A stronger alternative is the tretinoin is incorporated in some whitening products but may prove too harsh for people with sensitive skin.

4. Plant extracts – When you read the ingredient label of a whitening lotion, you will likely see plant extracts. There are many kinds of fruit and flower essence used in these products but two main ingredients are very popular, the arbutin and licorice extract. Although these compounds do not produce a dramatic whitening effect but they can be used in combination with other chemical compounds to achieve a whiter skin.

Arbutin comes from the leaves of mulberry, bearberry, cranberry or blueberry shrubs. They can also be derived from pears. It helps decrease pigmentation due to its melanin-inhibiting compounds. A person suffering from liver spots and freckles can also take advantage of arbutin. It remains a popular choice for people with sensitive skin because when applied externally, it is safe and does not have any unpleasant smell.

On the other hand, licorice extract has glabidrin which prevents pigmentation formation by stopping tyrosinase activation. It is fairly safe to use because it is not harmful to the melanocytes, eliminating the occurrence of permanent skin discoloration. Although further studies are still needed, it is believed that licorice extract might possess anti-inflammatory properties.

5. Vitamin C – A whitening lotion with vitamin C is also good as it is the only antioxidant proven to stimulate collage synthesis. This ingredient can be derived from green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits. There are many vitamin C derivatives like magnesium ascrobyl phosphate and ascorbyl palmitate but the L-ascorbic acid is considered to be the most effective to be used on the skin. It can also minimize signs of aging on the skin like fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin C is relatively safe to use for all types of skin and works well with any racial populations. There are even reports which claimed that with this ingredient used together with Kojic acid, produces better whitening action as compared to hydroquinone.

6. Allantoin – This is ingredient known to work well with many raw cosmetic compounds because it is non-toxic, non-allergenic and non-irritant. Allantoin is extracted from the comfrey plant and it can also help moisturize the skin and heal wounds. It is included in a whitening lotion because it has exfoliating properties which sloughs off dead skin cells. With this, tissue is renewed reducing the occurrence of skin blemishes and other forms of skin imperfections.

The most common side effects when using a whitening lotion and other forms of whitening products include stinging and increase sun sensitivity. This is considered normal and you should expect to have some slight burning, redness and stinging feeling. So, don’t forget to apply sunscreen before you head out. Also, don’t try to use whitening products beyond what is recommended because it could fire back leaving you with an even darker skin, irritation and blochy skin. Lastly, do your research and educate yourself so that your quest to achieving that desired beauty remains safe for you.