Does Skin Whitening Treatments Work? | Side Effects Explored

Most people have a perennial liking for the white or light skin complexion. It makes me wonder, why most of us fail to recognize that glowing dark skins are also equally beautiful and charming.

Persons with dark or tanned skin are willing to try out every possible skin lightening treatment with no botheration for their effectiveness and safety.

Skin whitening or bleaching implies the practice of using chemical or natural substances for lightening the color of the skin or for acquiring even skin complexion by removing the excess melanin present in certain areas of the skin.

There are several chemical and natural substances which have the ability to lighten the skin. Unfortunately, all the skin-care substances are NOT safe for the skin as they contain toxic elements bad for the skin.

In this article, we shall examine in detail some of the important information regarding skin lightening and the various products and methods used to achieve the same.

How Is The Skin Color Determined?

The color of the skin and hair is determined by the amount of melanin present in them. For this reason, people with dark skin have more melanin deposits in their skin.

A group of specialized cells in the body called the melanocytes are responsible for the production and distribution of melanin.

The basic color of the skin is a genetic makeup the children receive from the genes of the parents.

Of course, there are other external factors like skin damage, hormonal factors, exposure to UV rays of the sunlight, and certain chemical reaction that can affect the production of melanin. These kinds of discoloration of the skin are easily reversible to the original skin color with the help of skincare products.

Another type of discoloration or melanin effect that occurs to the skin is related to the age of the person…as a person grows old the skin develops ‘age spots,’ ‘liver spots,’ hyperpigmentation, etc. which are mostly permanent for the rest of the life.

Common Solutions For Skin Whitening

Most skin-lightening solutions are aimed at removing and reducing the production of melanin by inhibiting tyrosinase.

Inhibiting tyrosinase activity reduces the synthesis of melanin. This helps the existing skin cells to exfoliate naturally keratinocytes without the melanin being brought to the outer surface of the skin, and this makes the skin lighter in color.

Inhibition of tyrosinase is achieved with the help of chemical and natural substances; that, in turn, thwart the formation of melanin in the skin.

Skin whitening products (also known as bleaching creams, whiteners, skin brighteners, or fade) such as creams, lotions, pills, and soaps are formulated with the right balance of ingredients that can block the melanin. Some of the major ingredients commonly used in these skin-care products are hydroquinone, arbutin, kojic acid, azelaic acid, vitamin c, glutathione, Cinnamomum subavenium, alpha hydroxy acids, mercury, mequinol, steroids, retinoic acid, etc.

Other methods include exfoliants in the form of chemical peels or topical masks and laser treatments. The latest skin lightening solutions are LED skin masks and ultrasonic LED light photon therapy.

These products also work well for treating skin problems such as freckles, acne scars, age spots, and discoloration related to hormones.

Skin Lightening Products

There are different kinds of skin-lightening products such as pills, creams, soaps, bleaches, etc. Let us take a detailed look at each of them.

Skin Whitening Cream

Most popularly used skin whiteners are specially formulated creams that contain either chemical or natural ingredients that have the capacity to block melanin and also moisturize the skin at the same time.

Hydroquinone is the major ingredient that most skincare creams usually have. However, this chemical substance used as a bleaching agent is not healthy for the skin in the long run.

So far the most effective skin whitening creams are those containing retinoid and hydroquinone, but the continuous use of creams with these ingredients on the skin may cause havoc to the skin.

It is better to avoid skin whitening creams that contain mercury as it is proven to be harmful to the body.

As per the customer feedback, the best skin whitening cream is Meladerm, which mostly contains only natural ingredients known for its excellent skin-care effects. Meladerm contains healthy natural ingredients like kojic acid, glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, vitamin C, or arbutin.

Other popular ones are   Ambi Fade Cream, Palmers Skin Success, Reviva Labs Fade Cream, The Body Shop Blemish Fade, L’Oréal’s Perfect Skin, etc.

Skin Whitening Pills

One of the most popularly used skin whitening pills is glutathione. This pill works from within the body to reduce the production of melanin in the skin cells. The other popular pills are Metathione, Kyusoku Bihaku, Beauoxi White Plus, Mosbeau Placenta White, Fairtone, etc.

Using these pills can cause certain side effects in some individuals; the side effects such as skin allergy, nausea, insomnia, headaches, vomiting, and drowsiness especially for a prolonged intake of the pills.

Skin Lightening Soap

Skin whitening soaps contain ingredients that will work on the outer surface of the skin to lighten the complexion. The best ones are those containing natural ingredients like kojic acid, papaya, or glutathione.[29]

Never use soaps that are rich in chemicals as they will gradually make the skin dry and wrinkled. If you are unsure of the best soap to use, it is always good to visit popular online shopping sites like Amazon and look for the actual feedback left by some of the users.

Some of the best skin-lightening soaps I have found are Kojic Skin Lightening Soap, Psalmstre New Placenta Herbal Beauty Soap, Likas Papaya Skin Whitening Herbal Soap and Glutathione Soap for Skin Whitening

Skin Bleaching

You can find a lot of skin bleaching products advertised on all platforms of media.

Skin bleaching is a cosmetic treatment that helps in lightening the skin discoloration and brings about an evenly balanced skin complexion.

Be careful with the use of skin bleaching products that contain an excessive amount of mercury as continuous use of it can damage the skin tissues.  Some of the bleaching solutions are meant to fade out the dark hair on the skin, and it does not necessarily make your skin whiter.

If you intend to use skin bleaches, always go for those with natural ingredients. They may be less effective than those containing chemical ingredients, but healthy for the skin.

How To Lighten Skin Naturally?

Natural Remedies For Skin Whitening

You can easily make your skin complexion lighter by adopting natural solutions.

I am sure that you know that direct exposure to UVA and UVB radiations in the sunlight can make your skin tanned and discolored as it triggers the production of melanin.

If you have to be in the sun, make sure to apply a good sunscreen lotion to protect your skin. A sunscreen lotion with SPF30 or above is preferable if you are going to be in the sun for a long time. Also, use accessories like sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, and cotton hand-gloves to avoid sunburn and over-tanning of the skin.

You can also use herbal soaps that contain specific ingredients that make the skin soft and supple and also prevent melanin formation on the outer layer of the skin.

It is good to use natural exfoliating soaps and body lotions to remove the dead skin cells that make the skin look unhealthy and dark.

Daily cleanse your skin with a mild body wash lotions to get rid of the dirt, bacteria, and oil particles that will clog the pores of the skin and increase the melanin production in the skin.

Natural skin scrubs also work great for making the skin lighter and glowing. It is good to use once a week the natural skin scrubs.

There are lot many verities of natural skin scrubs available for ready purchase at any beauty shop or you can even prepare sugar scrub at home for the deep cleansing and exfoliation of the skin.

Natural skin moisturizers are good for making your skin look healthy and glowing. Petroleum jelly-based moisturizers are found to be good for the treatment and prevention of skin blemishes such as freckles, spots, and wrinkles.

Natural oils like coconut oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil are known for their ability to make the skin lighter and more beautiful.

A diet that contains a sufficient amount of protein and skin vitamins (A, C & E) is essential for making your skin healthy and bright. All kinds of fruits and green vegetables play a crucial role in making your skin healthy and beautiful.

At least eight glasses of water should be drunk daily to avoid dehydration and premature wrinkles formation on the skin.

Omega 3 fatty acid abundantly found in fish oil is really good for the skin.

The melanin production in the skin increases with unhealthy habits like smoking, drug abuse, and excessive caffeine intake. Get rid of these bad habits like a devil for better health and glowing skin.

Side Effects Of Skin Lighteners

All skin lighteners are not safe for the skin.

Several of the studies’ results have shown that ‘mercury’ used in most skin whitening products is not good for the skin. The use of mercury on the skin can lead to skin cancer especially when the user regularly has to be in sunlight for a good bit of time.

Mercury also accelerates the aging process of the skin and also forms wrinkles on the skin sooner than you expect.

Most skin whitening products contain steroids that can cause skin infections, acne, skin thinning, and slow healing of cuts and wounds on the skin. The steroids used on the skin can also penetrate skin tissues that may lead to skin cancers and allergies.

Hydroquinone is another most commonly used ingredient in most skin lightening products; this substance is very effective in lightening the skin but can cause ochronosis in some people. Hydroquinone is a banned cosmetic ingredient in most European countries.

Most of the skin bleaching products with chemical contents are very harsh on the skin, and regular bleaching of the skin will soon make the skin looks aged with wrinkles and can cause allergic reactions too.

The skin whitening pills are bad for health as they can cause skin rashes, diarrhea, headaches, itchiness, chills, and acne breakouts.

Forceful suppression of melanin production can also create hormone imbalances in the body which will lead to the development of hormone-related diseases.