Skin Lightening Creams: The Basics
There are many skin lightening creams available, either over the counter or by prescription. For those suffering from uneven pigmentation, where certain patches of skin are darker or lighter than others, such a cream can be used to even out their skin tones. These products can also help get rid of skin blemishes, like moles, and other discolorations.
Different skin lighteners contain different ingredients. Some are more effective than others. And some come with greater benefits. Or, in some cases, greater risks.
A lot of lightening products don’t actually bleach the skin. Instead, they inhibit the production of melanin, the substance that adds color to your skin. And one of these melanin inhibitors is hydroquinone.
Some believe hydroquinone is one of the most effective skin lightening ingredients. However, many are concerned about possible health risks. In fact, hydroquinone has been banned in some countries.
While it is a melanin inhibitor much like hydroquinone, licorice extract doesn’t seem to carry the same health risks. Also, for those whose skin is too sensitive to use some of the other lightening ingredients, licorice extract is often recommended.
We all know about vitamin C and its many health benefits. But what some don’t know is that it can act as a skin lightener. Vitamin C (or ascorbic acid) used for this purpose usually comes in either powdered or serum form.
Arbutin comes from the leaves or certain berries, like cranberries, blueberries, and mulberries. Arbutin can also be found in pears.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids
You can find alpha hydroxy acids (or AHAs) in many over the counter products. AHAs are also used in some chemical peels.
Along with inhibiting melanin production, alpha hydroxy acids remove unhealthy, discolored skin cells. As a result, you will be left with fewer blemishes and skin discolorations.
Over the counter AHA’s can help make blemishes less visible and noticeable. But alpha hydroxy acid peels tend to have more dramatic results. However, if you have dry or sensitive skin, you should probably stay away from alpha hydroxy acid peels.
Kojic acid is a by-product of the process used to make sake, or Japanese rice wine. This substance is often recommended for those who have sensitive skin. And, like hydroquinone, there are concerns about the possible health risks of using kojic acid.
Azelaic acid comes from grains like wheat and barley. It has long been used to treat acne. But there is some evidence that it can also help with skin discolorations.
Some skin lightening products contain mercury. While this chemical can be an effective skin lightener, it can also be dangerous. For example, ammoniated mercury is toxic. When choosing a skin lightening cream, make sure it doesn’t contain mercury.
When it comes to skin lightening creams, there are many alternatives. Make sure you research your options, and then choose the product that’s right for you.