Is Skin Lightening Safe?

Is Skin Lightening Safe?

It is not uncommon to have dark areas on your skin. This can occur in the form of things like liver spots and freckles on the skin. Some people also have an uneven skin tone where certain areas on the skin are darker than the rest of their skin.

People who have dark areas on their skin often suffer from less confidence because they find the spots and dark areas embarrassing. There are ways to help lighten these areas so that you can feel better about your skin.

Most people who want to lighten spots and dark areas look at skin lightening creams and other products to lighten their skin.

This type of product has been around for decades and thousands of people have used the products to lighten and beautify their skin. However, the ingredients in these products have recently come under scrutiny because they may be harsh and potentially dangerous for your health.

As a consumer, it is important that you understand what causes skin discolouration and more about the skin lightening process, and the ingredients used in the products. These questions are:

  • What causes skin to darken?
  • What ingredients in skin lightening products should I avoid?
  • Is skin lightening effective and safe?

Skin Pigmentation and Melanin Production

The colour of your skin is determined by melanin production. Those with darker skin produce more melanin than those who have lighter skin and this is perfectly natural. However, a change in hormonal production can cause an uneven skin tone and dark spots on the skin.

These hormonal changes can occur when someone is pregnant, or due to things like skin damage associated with factors like sun, harsh skin care products, wind and acne. Your skin’s melanin production may also be affected by ageing.

Certain skin care treatments may also damage the skin and this can cause darkened areas of your skin. These treatments include things like chemical peels and laser treatment.

These treatments may also cause areas of your skin to become lighter, causing your skin to be uneven and a combination of two different skin tones.

When there are parts of your skin getting more melanin that the rest of your skin, you can experience uneven skin ton and dark spots. It is common for people to want to even out their skin tone and correct the areas with high or low pigmentation. Skin lightening products are commonly used to accomplish this goal.

Understanding Skin Lightening

You can go to a dermatologist to have your skin lightened. There are also over-the-counter products and prescription products that you can use.

There are many products on the market and these contain different ingredients that purport to lighten your skin and even out your pigmentation.

When you use a prescription product, the ingredients tend to be at higher concentrations and dosages, resulting in you getting your results faster compared to over-the-counter products.

Of course, with higher levels of chemicals, this also means that there is a higher risk for adverse reactions so you can only use these for two to three months.

Ingredients used in Skin Lightening Products

Some products have ingredients that work to inhibit the production of melanin. There are some products that promise to lighten the skin that also have ingredients that help to moisturise the skin. This helps to heal damage that the skin has experienced.

Take a look at some of the common ingredients that are present in skin lighteners, their potential dangers and how effective they may be:


This ingredient is considered to be the most harsh, as well as the strongest of the ingredients that are used for skin lightening. You can find it in some over-the-counter products and various prescription products.

When it comes to those available by prescription, the strength is usually 4% while the over-the-counter products usually have a 2% strength.

Certain countries have banned this ingredient due to its potential dangers. It has been linked to things like liver damage, kidney damage and certain cancer.

There are potential side effects associated with this ingredient, including:

  • Itching
  • Blistering
  • Redness
  • Greyish brown spots on the skin

Kojic acid

This ingredient is another that you will find on the ingredient labels of skin lightening products. Side effects may include:

  • Contact dermatitis
  • Skin irritation

Citric acid

This ingredient is very popular in various skin lightening creams.

When you only use it in small amounts, it is generally less harmful that hydroquinone and kojic acid. However, if someone has sensitive skin, they are still at risk for skin irritation with this ingredient.

People should only use citric acid in small amounts and with other ingredients that work to soothe the skin.

Extrapone nutgrass

Compared to all of the whitening ingredients used today, this is considered to be one of the safest. It may help to reduce melanin production by as much as 40%.

This is a natural ingredient that has a very low potential to irritate the skin and it is actually effective in preventing skin irritation. It helps to reduce dark areas effectively without causing negative side effects. It also helps with things like reducing wrinkles, lines and other noticeable signs of ageing.


This is another natural ingredient that is a type of plant extract that comes from blueberries, bearberries and cranberries. It works similar to hydroquinine, but it is a safer alternative.

It may take longer to see results, but it is a far less harmful option.

Lactic acid

This ingredient is the most safe ingredient present in products for skin lightening. It may irritate sensitive skin, but the majority of people tolerate this derivative of sour milk very well. You only need small amounts to alleviate dark areas on the skin.

Skin lightening is generally safe when you are using the right products with gentle ingredients. Make sure that you choose a high-quality product and avoid harsh chemicals. This may take longer to produce results, but the results will come with far less irritation and adverse effects.

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