Skin whitening creams

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Skin whitening creams are creams that help in lightening skin tone. Such products promise lighter skin tone, removal of blemishes, unwanted pigmentation and dark spots on the skin on regular application for a period of time. Skin whitening creams are popular in the Arab world, African and Asian communities. They are fast gaining popularity amongst the white female population, who till recently had been interested in tanning their skin.


Why should I be aware of this?

  • For effective lightening, a high quality skin whitening cream is needed.
  • Most skin whitening creams give fleeting results, and need to be used regularly.
  • Long term regular application of creams containing some chemicals might be harmful for the skin.
  • You may even experience some allergic reactions, itchiness and other complications from certain ingredients used in skin whitening creams.
  • Applying a skin whitening product that causes such side effects can further damage your skin and remove the possibility of enhancing your skin tone.
  • You need to choose a product that yields results, yet reacts the right way on your skin

How does this affect me?

  • The Food and Drug Administration proposed a ban on over-the-counter sales of skin-lightening products, saying possible health risks cannot justify their being sold without a prescription.
  • Several skin whitening creams use a chemical called hydroquinone. This substance is a possible carcinogen that has been researched to cause cancer in rodents as well as linked to a skin-disfiguring condition called ochronosis that results in darkening and thickening of the skin with occasional grayish spots.
  • It is to be recalled that in 1990, the FDA also declared another skin-bleaching drug ammoniated mercury as unsafe.

All about skin whitening creams

What should I look for in skin whitening creams?

  • Check if the product includes an extract of extrapone nutgrass. Extrapone nutgrass has the special ability to lighten the skin tone, without showing any side effects.
  • Look for ingredients such as Avocado Oil, Cynergy TK, Phytessence Wakame, Homeo Age, Eyeliss, Grapeseed Oil, Shea Butter and Active manuka honey. These ingredients have shown scientifically to treat skin conditions, without causing any skin problem.

Harmful ingredients in skin whitening creams

Look out for these ingredients on the label of your skin whitening cream. If the product has any of these ingredients, it is better to avoid these products.

  • Mercury derivatives cause neurotoxic problems such as ataxia, speech and hearing impairment; mental problems such as irritability, fearfulness, and depression; kidney problems such as mercury-induced nephropathy; and immunotoxicity.
  • Hydroquinone preparations might result in Ochronosis, a blue-black discoloration caused by deposits of ochre-colored pigment.
  • Topical steroid products might lead to eczema, bacterial and fungal infections, acne, skin atrophy and pigmentation disorders.

Other ingredients to avoid

Depending on the products used, the duration and mode of use, skin lightening cream produces some harmful effects as shown below. Since some of these effects do not appear quickly, and some mimic known disease patterns, they are sometimes confused and misdiagnosed even by health care professionals since patients usually deny using any skin lighteners. It is reported that up to 69% of those who practice skin lightening may suffer from at least one complication.

  • Mineral oil -- Mineral oil may also go by the names liquid paraffin, paraffin wax, and petrolatum on the product label. Mineral oil is used so pervasively in skin care products because it is costs very little. However, mineral oil, once applied, prevents the skin from "breathing". It clogs pores, interferes with the skin's natural ability to eliminate toxins, and can lead to acne flare ups. It can lead to premature aging of the skin.
  • Dioxane(a synthetic derivative of coconut) -- This substance is widely used in skincare products and a few studies show that it is carcinogenic.
  • Parabens -- Methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl paraben. Many skin whitening creams use parabens as a preservative so that their products have a long shelf life. Studies suggest that they may cause cancer and interfere with the bodyÕs endocrine system, as well as causing allergic reactions and skin rashes.
  • Alcohols --- These include ethanol, ethyl alcohol, methanol, benzyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol and SD alcohol. Not all alcohols have the same properties, but these, which are commonly found in skin care products, are very drying and irritating for the skin.
  • Fragrances -- Many fragrances are produced from ingredients that are known to be toxic or carcinogenic.

What can I do?

You can opt for some home remedies that will have no side effects.

  • You can remove your tan with a mix of one teaspoon each of milk powder, honey, lemon juice, and half a teaspoon of almond oil. Apply on face and wash off after 10-15 minutes.
  • Oatmeal mixed with yoghurt, tomato juice and applied to the face and kept on for 20 minutes, then rinsed off with cold water, helps to lighten the skin by getting rid of the tan.
  • Slices of raw potato placed on the face helps reduce blemishes and other marks.
  • Lime juice being a natural bleach when mixed with turmeric powder and applied to the face is helpful in lightening your skin tone.

90 degrees

  • Skin brightening creams are being preferred over skin whitening creams - research and development focusing on the color frequencies of the face and how it reflects light showed that as skin ages, the ability to reflect light diminishes. Rather than cause the skin to visibly whiten, brightening products even out tone, discolorations and blotchiness of the skin, causing the overall appearance to be brighter and smoother.
  • FluorOxygen+C is another breakthrough for whitening. It is a mask that uses potent power of Vitamin C that can reverse darkening without leaving yellowish or greenish undertones. It contains vitamins A, C and E which regulate skin’s natural pH level to prevent irritations, dryness and over sensitive reactions, making your skin recapture that youthful look of a clear, unblemished and even complexion.

See also


  • FDA:Skin Bleaching Drug Products For Over-the-Counter Human Use
  • The Harmful Effects of Skin Whitening Creams…
  • Skin cream guide
  • Skin Whitening Tips
  • Skin Whitening Secrets
  • Science in Africa 'Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the FAIREST of them all?'
  • Could skin brightening be the new whitening?