Skin whitening, also known as skin lightening and skin bleaching, is the practice of using chemical substances in an attempt to lighten the skin or provide an even skin color by reducing the melanin concentration in the skin. Several chemicals have been shown to be effective in skin whitening, while some have proven to be toxic or have questionable safety profiles. This includes mercury compounds which may cause neurological problems and kidney problems.
In a number of African countries, between 25 and 80% of women regularly use skin whitening products. In Asia, this number is around 40%. In India, specifically, over half of the skin care products are sold to whiten skin. In Pakistan, where skin lightening products are popular, creams have been found to contain toxic levels of hydroquinone and mercury. Efforts to lighten the skin date back to at least the 16th century in Asia.
While a number of agents—such as kojic acid and alpha hydroxy acid—are allowed in cosmetics in Europe, a number of others such as hydroquinone and tretinoin are not. While some countries do not allow mercury compounds in cosmetics, others still do, and they can be purchased online.
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Uses Of Skin Whitening
Areas of increased pigmentation such as moles may be depigmented to match the surrounding skin. Effective agents for specific areas include corticosteroids, tretinoin, and hydroquinone. These agents, however, are not allowed in cosmetics in Europe due to concerns about side effects. Attempts to whiten large areas of skin may also be carried out by certain cultures.
This may be done for reasons of appearance, politics, or economics. Skin whiteners can help achieve lighter skin tones, but many of them contain harmful ingredients like the steroid clobetasol propionate, inorganic mercury (mercuric chloride or amalgamated mercury), glutathione (an antioxidant traditionally used in cancer treatment), and the organic compound hydroquinone.
Skin lighteners’ main health risks are linked to The overuse of topical clobetasol, which can cause systemic steroid effects from daily usage, especially on broad skin regions; and concealed mercury content, which can lead to mercury poisoning depending on individual susceptibility. Many skin whiteners contain a toxic form of mercury as the active ingredient. Their use, therefore, may harm a person’s health and is illegal in many countries.
Hydroquinone is a commonly used agent in skin whiteners, though the European Union banned it from cosmetics in 2000. It works by decreasing melanin production. Tretinoin, also known as all-trans retinoic acid, may be used to whiten specific areas. It may be used in combination with steroids and hydroquinone.
Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) is also used as a skin bleacher, but its biochemical mechanism is unclear. Side effects may include sun sensitivity, skin redness, thickening, or itching. Low concentrations may be used in cosmetics. Kojic acid has been found to be an effective lightener in some studies and is also allowed to be used in cosmetics. Side effects, however, include redness and eczema.
Glutathione is the most common agent taken by mouth in an attempt to whiten the skin. It may also be used as a cream.It is an antioxidant normally made by the body. Whether or not it actually works is unclear as of 2019. Due to side effects that may result from intravenous use, the government of the Philippines recommends against such use.
One 2017 review found tentative evidence of benefit of tranexamic acid in melasma,while another 2017 review found that evidence to support its use was insufficient.Azelaic acid may be a second-line option for melasma. A number of types of laser treatments have been used in melasma with some evidence of benefit. Reoccurrence, however, is common, and certain types of lasers can result in more pigmentation.
How to Choose the Right Skin Whitening Product?
Choosing the right skin whitening product can be a daunting task, given the vast array of products and ingredients available. Some factors to consider when selecting a skin lightening cream include:
- Skin type: Some skin whitening products are formulated for specific skin types, such as oily, dry, sensitive, or combination skin.
- Ingredients: Look for skin whitening products with safe and effective ingredients, backed by scientific research and approved by regulatory authorities. Avoid products that contain harsh chemicals, such as mercury or steroids, which can cause adverse reactions and long-term damage to the skin.
- Brand reputation: Choose a skin whitening products from a reputable brand with positive customer reviews, and avoid counterfeit or fake products that can be harmful to your health.
- Price: While price can be an indicator of quality, it’s not always the case. Look for skin whitening products that offer value for money and are affordable within your budget.
Side Effects Of Skin Whitening
⦁ Skin lightening creams have commonly contained mercury, hydroquinone, and corticosteroids. Because these compounds can induce both superficial and internal side effects, they are illegal to use and market in multiple nations. However, various chemical studies indicate that these compounds continue to be used in sold cosmetic products, though they are not explicitly declared as ingredients.
⦁ Prolonged usage of mercury-based products can ultimately discolor the skin, as mercury will accumulate within the dermis. Mercury toxicity can cause acute symptoms such as pneumonitis and gastric irritation. However, according to a study by Antoine Mahé and his colleagues, mercurial compounds can also contribute to long-term renal and neurological complications, the latter of which includes insomnia, memory loss, and irritability.
⦁ Other studies have explored the impact of hydroquinone exposure on health. Hydroquinone rapidly absorbs into the body via dermal contact; long-term usage has been found to cause nephrotoxicity and benzene-induced leukemia in the bone marrow. A study by Pascal del Giudice and Pinier Yves indicated that hydroquinone usage is strongly correlated with the development of ochronosis, cataracts, patchy depigmentation, and contact dermatitis. Ochronosis can subsequently lead to lesions and squamous cell carcinomas. While hydroquinone has not been officially classified as a carcinogen, it can metabolize into carcinogenic derivatives and induce genetic changes in the form of DNA damages.
⦁ Additionally, corticosteroids have become some of the most commonly incorporated lightening agents. Long-term usage over large areas of skin may promote percutaneous absorption, which can produce complications such as skin atrophy and fragility, glaucoma, cataracts, edemas, osteoporosis, menstrual irregularities, and growth suppression. A 2000 study performed in Dakar, Senegal, indicated that chronic usage of skin lighteners was a risk factor for hypertension and diabetes.
⦁ Chemically lightened skin is also more highly susceptible to sun damage and dermal infection Long-term users of skin bleachers can easily develop fungal infections and viral warts. Pregnant users may also experience health complications for both them and their children.
How Does Skin Whitening Work?
Skin whitening agents work by reducing the presence of melanin pigment in the skin. To accomplish this, there are several possible mechanisms of action
⦁ Inhibition of the activity of tyrosinase|Inhibition of the activity of tyrosinase: The catalytic action of tyrosinase is inhibited by the skin whitening agent.
⦁ Inhibition of the expression or activation of tyrosinase: The anti melanogenic agent causes less tyrosinase to be generated or prevents tyrosinase from being activated to its functional form.
⦁ Scavenging of the intermediate products of melanin synthesis.
⦁ Preventing the transfer of melanosomes to keratinocytes.
⦁ Directly destroying existing melanin.
⦁ Destroying melanocytes.
skin whitening creams can be a safe and effective option for those looking to improve their skin tone and texture. To get the best results, it’s important to choose a high-quality cream that is specifically formulated for your skin type, as well as your skin concern. When searching for a skin lightening cream, be sure to use relevant keywords such as “skin whitening cream”, “brightening cream”, or “hyperpigmentation treatment” in your search query. It’s also important to avoid creams that contain harmful or untested ingredients, such as mercury or steroids, as these can cause long-term damage to the skin.
Results may vary and can take several weeks to a few months to become noticeable, so it’s important to be patient and consistent with use. Incorporating a skin lightening cream into a consistent skincare routine, along with other skincare products like a gentle cleanser and moisturizer, can also help to enhance results.
As with any skincare product, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully and discontinue use if any adverse reactions occur. By choosing a safe and effective skin lightening cream and incorporating it into a consistent skincare routine, you can achieve brighter, more even-toned skin. With the right approach and search engine optimization strategy, you can easily find the best skin lightening cream that works for you and your skin.
Frequently Asked Questions About Skin whitening Creams
Some FAQs related to skin whitening creams:
Are skin whitening creams safe to use?
Skin lightening creams that contain safe and approved ingredients can be used safely, provided that they are used as directed and not overused. It’s important to avoid creams that contain harmful or untested ingredients, such as mercury or steroids, as they can cause adverse reactions and long-term damage to the skin.
- How long does it take to see results from skin whitening creams?
The time it takes to see results from skin lightening creams can vary depending on the individual, the severity of the skin concern, and the ingredients in the cream. In general, it can take several weeks to a few months to see significant improvement in skin tone and texture.
- Can skin whitening creams be used on all skin types?
Skin lightening creams can be used on most skin types, but it’s important to choose a cream that is formulated for your specific skin type. Some creams may be too harsh or drying for sensitive or dry skin, while others may be too oily or heavy for oily or combination skin.
- Are there any side effects of using skin whitening creams?
Some skin lightening creams can cause mild side effects, such as dryness, redness, or itching. More severe side effects can occur if the cream contains harmful ingredients or is overused, such as skin thinning, bruising, or discoloration. It’s important to follow the instructions carefully and discontinue use if any adverse reactions occur.
- Can skin whitening creams be used on the body?
Skin lightening creams can be used on the body, but it’s important to choose a cream that is formulated for the body and not just the face. Some creams may be too thick or heavy for the body, while others may not be strong enough to effectively lighten larger areas of skin. It’s also important to avoid using skin lightening creams on sensitive areas or areas with open wounds.