Skin whitening soaps are a viable path to depigmentation for individuals who wish to whiten their skin without using skin-whitening creams that are filled with mercury, hydroquinone, and steroids. Many whitening soaps are touted to be completely natural and almost entirely made from plant ingredients.
For instance, glutathione soap, papaya soap, and black licorice soap claim to reduce dark spots, brighten one’s complexion, and mitigate melasma. These soaps works by either halting melanin production in skin cells, or by removing the outer layer of darkened skin (i.e. the epidermis).
Typically, papaya soaps have small amounts of real papaya mixed with palm butter base and coconut oil. They are touted to be effective because papayas contain the enzyme papain, which can weaken protein bonds.
As the skin consists primarily of protein, papain should be able to reduce the epidermis and slough off hyperpigmented skin, unveiling fresh, healthy, brighter skin underneath. This is considered to be a natural exfoliant.
However, papain rarely functions alone in papaya soaps. A second ingredient, kojic acid, is usually added as an additional exfoliant. This ingredient, based on some laboratory studies, may be linked to cancer. Those who do not wish to take this risk should only use papaya soap without kojic acid.
Considered to be mild skin bleachers, papaya soaps can lead to irritation and skin peeling. The peeling is not the issue – in fact, it is how the dark skin is removed in the treatment process and thus desirable.
The irritation, on the other hand, may be due to an allergic reaction to papain. One may also experience acne flare-ups while using papaya soap, but this should be temporary and heal on its own.
Black Licorice Soap
Another mild skin lightening soap is black licorice soap. Rather than rely on exfoliation, licorice extracts found in this soap are claimed to halt melanin production in skin by obstructing the enzyme tyrosinase. Black licorice soap is frequently used in tandem with an exfoliating soap since it is touted to prevent the newly unveiled skin from darkening.
Many users switch between black licorice soap and papaya, alternating when the papaya soap has started to peel their skin. Afterwards, they use the melanin-inhibiting soap to prevent themselves from darkening.
Glutathione soap is considered a moderate to strong whitening soap and contains the L-glutathione enzyme which is naturally found and produced in the body. This enzyme is a form of antioxidant that can guard the skin from darkening and aging.
L-glutathione contains sulfur – an element that is believed to have lightening effects whether it’s used internally or topically. Some glutathione soaps may also include arbutin, which lowers melanin production by stopping the activity of the tyrosinase enzyme.
How to Use
In order to receive the most benefit from whitening soaps, one must first wet the whitening soap, make a light lather, and let the lather sit on the skin for two to five minutes before rinsing thoroughly with water.
After a few days of performing the aforementioned steps once or twice daily, if no irritation has occurred, some users up their usage by letting the lather sit for up to 10 minutes before rinsing. After rinsing, one should apply sunscreen on their whitened skin because it can be more susceptible to damage from the sun’s UV rays.