What are the Different Skin Whitening Products?

Dorothy Bland

Skin bleaching products are cosmetic products that can be used to even out skin tone and lighten appearance. These products can be used to blend naturally occurring darker patches on the skin, fade freckles and treat dark spots left behind by acne scarring. Skin whitening products may also be used to repair the damage done by excessive sun exposure.

Skin whitening products even out skin tone.
Skin whitening products even out skin tone.

Today, cosmetic whitening products have become a multi-billion dollar industry and are offered in nearly every part of the world. Various types of whitening treatments are currently available including skin whitening cream, chemical peels and products that use natural ingredients.

Skin whitening and bleaching creams are popular among people who wish to whiten skin.
Skin whitening and bleaching creams are popular among people who wish to whiten skin.

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Most skin whitening products work by decreasing melanin. Melanin is a pigment in skin triggered by the tyrosinase enzyme and determines an individual's skin, hair and eye color. Many individuals can suffer some degree of pigmentation problems with the skin appearing lighter or darker in certain areas. A range of factors including hormonal changes, medications, skin injury, age and unprotected sun exposure may be the cause of such issues.

Cosmetic whitening products available in creams, soaps and lotions are widely available in most parts of the world. One of the most popular topical lighteners sold in the United States is hydroquinone. Provided in over-the-counter and prescription products, hydroquinone is used to treat hyperpigmentation — moles, freckles and dark spots caused by excessive melanin build-up. Due to concerns that it may act as a carcinogenic, hydroquinone has been banned in some parts of the world including the European Union.

When it comes to skin whitening products that require a visit to a dermatologist, chemical peels are gaining in popularity. Chemical peels apply a chemical solution to the face and other parts of the body. The solution burns away the outermost layers of skin revealing more evenly toned skin and removing superficial signs of hyperpigmentation. Naturally occurring fruit acids, better known as alpha hydroxyl acids, are considered the mildest type of skin peel and are among those most commonly used. Alpha hydroxyl acid peels, are also available over-the-counter versions that are diluted solutions that may require several weeks of regular use before results are achieved.

A number of natural skin whitening products are also showing up in face washes, skin lightening lotions and other products designed for daily use. Gentle acids found in tomatoes, citrus products and milk are included for light bleaching effects. To slough off dead skin and expose brighter and more evenly toned skin, brown sugar, oatmeal and sea salt are among the ingredients used as exfoliants. These natural ingredients can be found in commercial products and are frequently used in homemade solutions.

Those considering skin whitening products should be aware of the potential for doing serious harm to the skin. By removing some of the protection that melanin provides, individuals may become more prone to skin damage and can be more susceptible to skin cancer. Dermatologist typically recommend that those using skin whitening treatments also apply a sunscreen and cover up when heading outdoors to limit sun exposure.

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