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How do I Lighten Dark Skin?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 17, 2024
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Sun protection is a good starting point to lighten dark skin. Chemical peels are an option if you have the desire for professional assistance. If you want to do the lightening at home, you can purchase skincare products designed for this purpose.

One way to lighten dark skin is to stay out of the sun, which is a common cause of darkening. When a person is exposed to too much sun, her body produces more melanin, a natural skin dye that helps provide sun protection. The more that melanin is produced, the darker a person can become. It generally takes some time before you can see the results from this method of skin lightening and the degree to which it lightens a person is usually limited.

When you do need to go out during the day, you should protect yourself from sun exposure as much as possible. You can do this by wearing clothing and accessories that shield your body from the sun. It is also important to apply sun block as often as it is needed.

A chemical peel can be an effective way to lighten dark skin. It is common for skin’s darkness to be due to hyperpigmentation, which is superficial skin coloring. In these instances, if the top layers of skin are removed, fresh, lighter layers can be exposed on the surface. When a person gets a chemical peel, this goal is achieved by using fruit acids to burn off the darkened top layers.

There are a few things to consider before you set your decision on getting a chemical peel. First, depending on the sensitivity of your skin and the product that is used, the process can involve some pain. Second, a peel usually lives up to its name. You can expect to have strips of skin literally peeling off of your face. Third, most professionals generally will not allow you to undergo the procedure more than once per month and it may take as many as six sessions to achieve your goal complexion.

Certain skin lotions are designed to lighten dark skin. There is a wide range of these products on the market. Many of them are intended for use with a range of other items from the same product line. If you are seriously looking to lighten your skin and you want results as soon as possible, you should use the accompanying products, too.

If you are just looking to lighten dark skin in a small area, such as a blemish, there are products that are marketed as blemish fading creams. These are usually sold as ointment in tubes. They may also be available as liquid drops or gel. A product in this category is usually designed to be applied several times per day solely to the affected spot.

Before you buy any skin lightening items, know that all of these products are not created to an equal standard. Some may contain questionable ingredients, while others may be completely ineffective. Yet, many of these products can be expensive, so you need to ensure that you are choosing a safe, highly quality product before you make a purchase.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By clintflint — On Mar 01, 2014

@croydon - It is cultural, but culture is all around us and so it is difficult to escape. Paler skin is often seen as a sign that the person is wealthy, because, before there were creams that provided skin lightening for dark skin, the only way to guarantee it was to stay out of the sun. This wasn't usually an option for poor folk.

By croydon — On Mar 01, 2014

@browncoat - I wish that there wasn't such a push on everyone to whiten their skin in the first place. If there was a product that absolutely worked, believe me it wouldn't be kept a secret.

I mean, use makeup if you absolutely must, but I think people should be trying to bring darker skin into the public eye until we all see it as just a normal variation, rather than a sign that someone did something wrong.

There's no reason to think of dark as less desirable. It's a complete cultural construct.

By browncoat — On Feb 28, 2014

Absolutely do as much research on a product as you can before you buy it. Make sure that it has a lot of genuine reviews and that none of them are scary. You might think that the worst thing that can happen is that it doesn't work, but people have been permanently scarred by these creams in an attempt to bleach their skin and sometimes the creams differ from batch to batch.

I would also make sure that I tried a spot test for 48 hours at least before using it everywhere. Choose somewhere out of sight that isn't going to be too sensitive.

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