Skin whitening is a kind of cosmetic treatment that lightens skin color and is generally used for certain skin conditions affecting pigmentation such as melasma or chloasma. The whitening treatment can fade scars, lighten a tan, and reduce dark patches on one’s skin. Lotions and topical skin whitening creams typically contain the chemical agents azelaic acid and hydroquinone.
Some lightening creams contain plant extracts that may have a bleach effect on skin. For pigmentation irregularities, a dermatologist may perform a procedure, such as a chemical peel, or prescribe a whitening cream with concentrations greater than the over-the-counter varieties.
How Skin Darkens
In essence, an individual’s skin color is affected by melanin, which is a kind of pigment created in melanocyte cells. When exposed to sunlight, melanocytes can ramp up their production of melanin. This can lead to a drastic darkening of the skin, hence why one’s skin can be tanned dark. In certain cases, sun damage will appear in the form of dark colored age spots.
Hyperpigmentation is the excessive darkening of specific areas on the skin, and may also occur following an injury, or from skin conditions like acne. Hormone therapy or pregnancy might stimulate the melanocytes, resulting in a kind of hyperpigmentation known as melasma or chloasma. The defining feature of this skin condition are brownish patches that appear on the face, commonly around cheekbones, upper lip, and forehead.
Ways to Whiten Skin
Excessive pigmentation can be reduced using skin whitening products. Generally, whitening creams use ingredients that slow the process whereby melanin is created. Hydroquinone is a chemical used frequently for its skin whitening effect. Over-the-counter skin lightening products tend to contain two percent hydroquinone. In order to have a higher concentration (e.g. four percent or higher), a doctor’s prescription will be necessary.
In addition to hydroquinone, topical skin lightening products may include a type of vitamin A like tretinoin. This combination can be effective in skin conditions such as melasma. Many lightening creams also have protective properties from the sun which is a major contributing cause to further skin damage due to its harmful UV rays.
Some skin lightening lotions contain azelaic acid and kojic acid as their primary active ingredients. Various skin whitening products also contain arbution, which is an extract from bearberry, mulberry, or cranberry. Lemon, orange, and papaya are some fruits which have natural skin lightening properties. These fruits can whiten one’s complexion when applied to one’s skin or incorporated into one’s diet.
Invasive Whitening Procedures
Skin lightening procedures involve chemical peels using fruit acids or similar peeling agents. The treatment generally involves applying a peeling solution like an alpha-hydroxy acid to exfoliate the pigmented, darker skin. A dermatologist may instead perform a treatment called dermabrasion which lessens brown spots, acne scars, and related pigmentation issues. In this procedure, the skin’s surface is gently rubbed using a special tool.
Among the most recent options nowadays to treat one’s skin appearance is laser treatment. This procedure may be used to treat uneven skin tone, and other types of hyperpigmentation like melasma. It can even be used on a specific problem area that is high priority, or just generally on the entire face.
One needs to do their due diligence before signing up for treatments or using skin lightening products since they all have their side effects. For instance, the chemicals in bleaching creams can sometimes cause irritation and rashes. In some individuals, frequent use of bleaching cream produces even worse discoloration.
Some skin lightening procedures may not be ideal for a person’s skin type. For example, laser treatment may darken pigmentation in some individuals.