Seeing some dark spots or hyperpigmentation on your skin? Odds are you may think about purchasing a skin whitening cream.
But have you ever wondered that something which decreases the skin’s level of melanin can be potentially dangerous?
Well, yes! Such skin lightening products or brightening creams can have potentially dangerous side effects.
This article discusses whether you should use one and what benefits or harms it can bring to your face.
Keep reading to know more.
What are Skin Whitening Creams?
These creams aim to bleach the skin cells that produce the pigment of your skin, melanin.
Melanin is what gives your skin a darker color. Hence, dark spots and age spots may have more melanin rather than the rest of your face.
They are also effective in spot treatment for acne.
However, you can also use these creams on your entire face in order to lighten your face color.
That said, bleaching works by lowering the pigment-producing skin cells i.e. melanocytes.
While the amount of melanin in your skin is usually predetermined by genetics.
People of the same heritage usually have a similar skin color. Hence, those with darker skin have more melanin.
However, other factors such as hormones, chemicals and sunlight can also affect the production of melanin in certain spots.
These creams contain a bleaching agent such as hydroquinone.
Hydroquinone works by decreasing the number of melanocytes present in your skin. Therefore, giving it a whitening effect.
Another common ingredient in such creams is Vitamin C.
The antioxidant properties of Vitamin C also help to reduce melanin production of the melanocytes.
They may also contain glycolic acid.
This is an exfoliant usually found in skincare. It helps in brightening up your skin by exfoliating it.
It will remove the dead skin cells so that you have rather clear skin and an even appearance.
When there are risks to using it, there are also benefits. But first, you need to know how to use it.
So how can you use it? Let’s find out below!
Using a Skin Whitening Cream
If you really want to use a skin whitening product, it is best to consult your doctor beforehand.
They can recommend a treatment with the least risks.
Other than cream they can suggest getting other skin brightening treatments such as chemical peels and laser therapy.
If you want to apply the cream, use the following procedure:
- Apply a small amount of product using your hands or a cotton pad
- Beware of your eyes, nose and lips, since the whitening creams contain bleach, it is best to avoid contact with these parts.
- Immediately wash your hands after use
- Do not touch the area against someone else’s skin
- Top it up with sunscreen in order to prevent UV radiation exposure causing sunspots
Other than that, you may want to try injectable solutions to whitening. However, they can pose a greater risk.
Thus, consult your doctor before you want to try any of these.
They also come in the form of lotions, serums and oil. Creams, lotions and oils work better for people with dry skin.
While those with oily skin types are better suited to use light serums.
Another method for brightening is taking a whitening pill. However, its results and effectiveness are yet to be confirmed.
But should you take the risk of using any of these products in order to get some degree of whiteness?
Let’s dive a little deeper into that below!
Skin Whitening Cream Risks and Side Effects
Did you know that several countries have banned the use of these creams and other whitening products because of their side effects?
In fact, the Food and DrugAdministration deemed the products unsafe for human consumption.
This is due to some serious and general risks that these creams pose.
There is a risk of getting contact dermatitis is due to certain ingredients in the cream.
It will result in inflammation of the skin, hives, itching, blisters, redness, ulcers, burning, dry, scaly and tender skin.
Getting Steroid Acne
These creams may contain corticosteroids.
Hence, it can result in steroid acne which usually affects the chest area but can also occur on other body parts including the arms and the back.
You can notice blackheads and whiteheads, acne scars, small bumps that are red in color and larger red lumps that are painful.
Mercury is one of the ingredients that can cause poisoning. In fact, its presence in creams has a link with mercury toxicity.
In the case of mercury poisoning, you may feel fatigued, numb, have high blood pressure, can undergo kidney failure and show some neurological symptoms.
These include memory loss, tremors and irritability.
Another kidney disorder, nephrotic syndrome may result due to damage to the blood vessels.
The blood vessels in your kidney are filtering water and waste. However, in this condition your body excretes an excess of protein in the urine, thus hampering the filtering system.
That too is a side effect of mercury.
It can further cause swollen ankles and feet. The eyes will swell up too. Plus, you will feel fatigued and lose your appetite.
Your urine will be foamy too.
Another side effect is the skin disorder Exogenous ochronosis. It causes blue-black pigmentation after regular use of hydroquinone.
There are several risks of using lightening creams and other products. However, there are also certain benefits of using it on your face, usually cosmetic.
If you have dark spots and hyperpigmentation then these creams can work to even out your skin tone and texture.
Not only that, but it can also decrease the appearance of freckles and acne scars.
It can also help lighten the skin moles that develop over the years. Hence, you can balance the pigmentation on your skin for an even color.
Regarding acne scars, they are ineffective against inflammation and redness at the time of the breakout.
However, they can lighten the red and dark spots that acne leaves after healing.
Having a more even skin tone may give you confidence.
While some people use it for their entire face, that, however, perpetuates colorism.
Therefore, if you use it to lighten your skin tone and overall face and tone that reeks of lower self-esteem, wanting to gain privilege and avoid prejudice at the same time.
Aging, sun damage, and frequent hormonal changes can result in dark spots.
Other than that, melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can lead to darkening in areas that receive more sun exposure for instance the forehead and cheeks.
Endocrine disorders such as Addison’s disease can darken your skin by producing more melanin.
Hence, in order to counteract the dark spots formed by these, one can use skin lightening creams.
It can lighten melasma, sun spots, freckles, liver spots, Post-inflammatory marks due to psoriasis and eczema, as well as age spots.
There is another solution to dark spots that involves covering them with makeup.
Foundation and concealer may not reduce the melanin in the dark spots but at least they can cover the imperfections.
DIY Remedies for Bleaching and Precautions
What skin whitening products essentially do is bleach your skin so that it appears whiter.
However, due to it natural skin bleaching tag, it is not regulated by the FDA.
Therefore, it does not consider creams safe to use.
In fact, these lightening creams may do just the opposite for darker skin tones.
They can induce more hyperpigmentation in people with a dark skin tone.
Other than that, children, nursing and pregnant women should not use the products at all.
If you want to achieve some form of brightness, you can try some DIY bleaching ingredients to counteract hyperpigmentation.
Using apple cider vinegar, aloe vera and green tea extract are common ways to brighten dark spots.
Remember that they will not brighten your dark skin tone rather will only reduce the hyperpigmentation and dark spots due to excessive melanin production.
Beware of using home remedies such as lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide.
While they help to decrease pigmentation and brighten up skin slightly, they also pose risks such as irritation on the eyes and skin.
Hence, try the safer home remedies if you want to see any change in your pigmentation.
That said, there are other alternatives to getting brighter skin.
If you suffer from hyperpigmentation and dark spots, chances are your dermatologist may recommend a chemical peel.
A chemical peel can exfoliate your skin to remove the dead cells however, it may also aid in brightening up your face. So can laser therapy, aimed at reducing sunspots and pigmentation.
Though, if you do not want expensive treatments then at least refrain from using these whitening creams, rather go for covering your sunspots.
Use treatments and serums targeting hyperpigmentation that does not contain any bleach.
Or wear makeup using foundation, concealer and color corrector to even out your skin tone.
Remember that your skin tone is a hereditary gift. It defines you and makes you beautiful.
There is no need to bow down to society’s prejudice and lower your self-esteem and confidence in the process.
Therefore, refrain from using skin whitening cream and get dermatological treatments for medical concerns regarding darkening.