Ingredients of fairness cream

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With the plethora of products and brands available in the fairness cream market, the knowledge of the ingredients, their functions and impact can help consumers make an informed choice.

The practice of trying for lighter skin tone goes back to ancient times. The fascinating range of ingredients used in those days included, saffron, walnut, turmeric, yoghurt, gram flour paste, pulses and honey.


Why should I be aware of this?

Cosmetic manufacturing companies do not declare the ingredients used in fairness creams under the guise of trade secrets. As they are registered under cosmetics license, they are not bound to disclose contents. There are hundreds of fairness products around the world, many of them illegally produced, which promise their users fairness but often end up destroying their skin and causing serious diseases like melanoma or skin cancer and kidney problems.

Most fairness creams use bleaching agents. If the bleaching percentage is between 3- 4%, it is within limits as per side effects are concerned. But most of them do not mention the per centage of the chemicals on the packets. Long-term use of these creams may affect the skin.

How does this affect me?

Dermatologists claim that there is no such thing as a fairness cream, certainly not without using skin-bleaching agents. Some ingredients used in many fairness creams can cause serious health hazards.

  • Nephrotoxicity -- Nephrotoxicity refers to irritation to nephrons in the kidney, causing kidney damage.
  • Mercury toxicity -- Mercury toxicity includes effects like metallic taste, increased thirst, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhoea, nephritis, decreased flow of urine, colitis or constipation, tremors, anaemia, and skin problems. Mercury has adverse effects on the developing brain of a foetus.
  • Serious allergic reactions.

All about ingredients of fairness cream

  • Hydroquinone --An effective whitening agent, but known to cause skin irritation. Normally used in fairness creams in very small concentration (less than 1 percent)
  • Kojic Acid, a Vitamin C derivative with characteristics to block melanin production in the skin. Melanin is responsible for darkening the complexion.
  • Retinoic Acid, a vitamin A derivative which helps peel off the surface layers of skin, thereby getting rid of dark pigmented skin cells, is also used sometimes. In the process, the lower layers of the skin, which are somewhat lighter, come up to the surface.
  • Plant extracts -- These which have mild whitening qualities such as liquorice, blackberry, mulberry, grapeseed etc.
  • Steroids,
  • Mercury salts,
  • Bismuth subnitrate
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Magnesium peroxide
  • Zinc peroxide.
  • Vitamin B3 (niacinamide)
  • Mixture of US FDA- and EU-approved UV-A and UV-B sunscreens.
  • Ayurvedic herbs

90 degrees


Mexoryl, a recently discovered chemical is said to provide the most comprehensive protection against UVA as against commonly used UVA filters such as Oxybenzone, Titanium Dioxide or Parsol 1789. The drug has not been officially approved by FDA, but the company that has the patent for it, has been given the go ahead to market products containing Mexoryl.

The ingredient has been licensed for use in Europe since 1993, (where it is generically known as ecarnsule), a market where legislations are usually considered tougher than the American ones.

What can I do?

  • For effective lightening, you will need to find a high quality fairness cream. Otherwise, you'll most likely see fleeting results, and may even experience some allergic reactions and other complications.
  • When you look for a fairness cream, check if the product includes an extract of extrapone nutgrass. Extrapone nutgrass has the special ability to lighten your skin tone, without showing any side effects.
  • Look for ingredients such as avocado oil, grapeseed oil, shea butter and active manuka honey. These ingredients have shown scientifically to treat skin conditions, without causing any skin problem.

See also


  • Fairness creams cause skin diseases
  • Fair Factor "The Whiter the Better"
  • Why Is the Best Sunscreen Blocked by FDA?