The Effects of Skin Lightening Cream
Skin lightening creams are the most sought after skin care product in most Asian, Middle Eastern and African countries. Basically, the use of skin lightening cream is intended to overcome pigmentation problems such as black spots on the face.
But in reality, people use it to lighten their skin. They believe in the traditional assumption that beautiful people are those who have lighter or fair skin. It is a fact and cannot be denied that in most developing countries, someone with fair skin has a higher social position. Read more about Treatment for Skin Lightening
This also means they have a better chance than someone with dark skin, for example in terms of looking for job and love relationships. But surely there is a price to pay for getting lighter skin. Excessive obsession with lighter skin will eventually cause side effects. Let’s explore further the effects of skin lightening cream. Read more about Effects on Skin from Drinking Not Enough Water
The Anatomy of Skin
The outermost layer of the human body is wrapped by skin which is meant as protection from the outside world.
Human skin has an area of about 20 square feet and is the largest organ of the body.
The skin serves to protect the body from microbes, sense the feeling of touch, heat and cold, as well as helps regulate body temperature. Read more about How to Exfoliate Sensitive Skin Face
The skin also becomes a sensor to recognize the surrounding environment, provides an immune response, and controls body fluids.
The skin consists of three layers:
- Epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. It is the first barrier and determines skin color.
- Dermis, located under the epidermis. It is the home of sweat glands, hair follicles and connective tissue.
- Hypodermis, the innermost layer of skin. It is composed of fat and connective tissue.
The color of the skin is determined by unique cells called melanocytes located in the epidermis. Melanocytes produce melanin pigments.
How Skin Lightening Cream Works
To find out how skin lightening cream works, you must first understand how the process of skin darkening occurs.
A person’s skin color is determined by the amount of melanin he/she has.
Melanin is formed in the skin through a series of processes called melanogenesis.
- Skin cells called melanocytes produce melanin.
- Then the body’s system transfers melanin to keratinocytes, which are the most numerous skin cells in the body. Read more about Bad Effects of Dehydration on Your Skin
- As a result, the skin tone gets darker.
It should be noted that the formation of melanin is triggered by sun rays. Melanin plays an important role in protecting the skin from harmful UV rays.
The use of skin lightening cream can suppress the production of melanin in the skin. Some of the methods used include:
- Inhibits the formation of melanin’s precursor, namely tyrosinase.
- Obstructs the transfer of melanin from melanocytes to keratinocytes.
- Destroys melanocytes or melanin
The Beneficial Use of Skin Lightening Cream
Skin lightening products are normally used to overcome pigmentation problems, such as:
- Melasma, a gray-brown spot on the face
- Spots of aging
- Uneven facial skin tone
- Vitiligo, the loss of melanin in the skin
The Effects of Skin Lightening Cream
In general, it can be said that the skin lightening creams that are registered at Food-and-Drug Agency are safe to use. However, there are some side effects that can be caused by the ingredients of skin lightening cream, such as:
- Skin irritation
Irritation is caused by strong ingredients such as vitamin C, retinoids, glycolic and salicylic acid.
To overcome this problem, first reduce the use of skin lightening cream for some time so the skin can adapt. As a precaution, use moisturizer first before applying skin lightening cream.
- Mild stinging sensation
Usually this happens the first time you apply skin lightening cream to your skin. Stinging sensation is caused by azaleic acid, one of the ingredients that works to remove black spots.
To overcome this, use the cream in just a short time until the skin gets used.
The Active Ingredients of Skin Lightening Cream and Their risks
There are several types of active ingredients commonly used in skin lightening creams.
Hydroquinone is the most common active ingredient used in skin lightening creams. Hydroquinone serves to inhibit the formation of melanin and reduce the amount of melanin in the skin.
The use of hydroquinone is most effective when combined with topical retinoid, which help to exfoliate the outer skin so that hydroquinone can penetrate the skin more easily. Read more about How To Smooth Rough Skin Face
Although the use of hydroquinone is still controversial, doctors may prescribe it to overcome pigmentation problems.
The concentration of hydroquinone contained in over-the-counter skin lightening products is generally 2%. Hydroquinone also has another name that is less familiar, namely arbutin. Sometimes it is written as derivative product, namely alpha arbutin or beta arbutin.
The use of hydroquinone continuously for a long period can cause side effects, namely:
- Ochronosis, a condition where blue-black patches appear on the skin.
- Skin cancer, allegedly caused by reduced melanin so the body is susceptible to UV rays.
- Eyes exposed by hydroquinone can experience vision problems due to eye pigmentation and corneal damage.
- Inhaling hydroquinone can cause upper respiratory disorders.
Skin lightening creams often use corticosteroids as their active ingredient. Corticosteroids work by:
- Reduce blood flow to the surface of the skin so that the skin looks brighter.
- Reduce the number of melanocytes, skin cells that produce melanin.
- Inhibit hormones that play a role in melanocyte production.
Long-term use of corticosteroids creams can cause side effects such as:
- Stubborn acne
- Rash around the mouth
- Swollen and reddish skin
- Excessive hair growth
- The appearance of white spots on the face
- Fungal infections on the skin
The use of skin lightening creams containing topical steroids can also cause:
- Increased blood sugar
- Reduced natural steroids produced by the body
- Stretch marks
The common story of someone who for a long period used a skin lightening cream with steroid content is that the skin did become lighter, but the skin also became thinner so it was easy to bruise. Besides that, the person also got stubborn acne.
Mercury is probably the most effective substance for lightening the skin. It is because mercury has an effective ability to inhibit melanin production. Even so, mercury is also famous for its toxins so it is dangerous to use. Read more about How to Treat Skin Fungus on Face
Therefore many countries have established mercury as a prohibited ingredient in the skin lightening products. Mercury poisoning can cause neurological disorders, kidney damage and death.
Currently the use of skin lightening products has been a normal thing. It even becomes a routine in daily skin care. Old, young, man, woman, everyone uses it. Beauty companies don’t hesitate to spend big money to advertise their skin lightening products. They guarantee with lighter skin you will get happiness, success, and a soul mate.
The most common skin lightening product is in the form of cream. People or advertisements often refer to it as a skin whitening product. Safe skin lightening products are those that have been officially registered at the Food-and-Drug Agency.
However, its use must be in accordance with the advice of a doctor or dermatologist. If you find a skin lightening cream that is not registered or does not have a label, you should not buy it because it is likely that the cream contains harmful ingredients, for example mercury. Read more about How to Stop Skin Peeling Off Your Feet
Don’t take any risk. The effects of skin lightening cream are real. It’s good before trying a skin lightening product, you consult with dermatologist first.