Many people suffer from darkening of portions of the skin. This darkening may appear as freckles or dark spots sometimes called liver spots. You can also experience uneven skin tone where portions of your face or entire body are actually darker than others areas. Many people who experience these darker areas of skin find them to be unattractive and even embarrassing and find themselves seeking ways to remove these spots or even out their skin tone.
No matter why people are seeking to have lighter skin, they most often turn to skin lightening products as a way of achieving this goal. Skin lightening has been around for generations and has been used by thousands of men and women who are seeking their vision of beautiful skin. However, recently these whitening products have come under fire for containing ingredients that may be harmful to your overall health. This means that as consumers you need to ask yourself a few important question before using any skin lightening product. These questions should include:
Melanin Production and Pigmentation of the Skin
Melanin production is responsible for the pigmentation or the color of your skin. Some people simply produce more pigment than others and this should be seen as a natural occurrence. However, there are times when melanin does produce dark spots and uneven skin tone and this often occurs in such cases as when hormonal production is changed: as with pregnancy or when the skin is damaged by the sun, wind, use of harsh skin care products, and acne. Aging may also have some effect on melanin production.
In some cases, damages by procedures such as laser treatment or chemical peels, can result in damaged skin and hyper-pigmentation or dark spots caused by increased melanin production to those areas. In addition these types of treatments can also result in hypo-pigmentation, which is a lack of pigmentation in the damaged areas, both resulting in spots or uneven skin tone.
When certain areas of the skin receive more melanin than others then dark spots and uneven skin tone may be the result. When this occurs people begin looking for ways to correct these areas and get back a more even skin tone. Oftentimes they turn to skin lightening products to help them achieve that goal.
You can have your skin lightened by a dermatologist, be given a prescription for skin lightening products or even buy an Over the counter skin lightener. The difference in various skin lightening products will be the amount of the active skin lightening ingredient or ingredients used and the other ingredients contained in the products. Prescription skin lighteners tend to have a higher percentage of the actual lightening ingredients, which tends to lighten your skin faster and more effectively, but also poses more risk if the skin lightening ingredients are considered to be harmful. However, most experts agree that no skin-lightening product should be used for more than 2 or 3 months.
A Look at Skin Lightening Ingredients
Skin lightening products work because they contain ingredients that hinder melanin production. Some skin lighteners also contain ingredients that may moisturize the skin and help to overcome any damage the skin has suffered. Here is a look at some of the skin lightening ingredients, their effectiveness, and the dangers they pose if any.
Hydroquinone – Hydroquinone is considered to be the strongest and harshest of all skin lightening ingredients and the one most often found in prescription skin lighteners and some OTC products as well. Most prescription skin lighteners contain 4% Hydroquinone and OTC products contain 2%. The problem is that Hydroquinone has been linked to increases in certain cancers as well as kidney and liver damage. This ingredient is considered so dangerous in other countries (EU Countries) that it has been banned.
Other negative side effects of Hydroquinone include:
Kojic Acid – Another ingredient used in skin lightening products is Kojic Acid. Studies show that this lightening agent may cause:
Citric Acid – Citric acid is another ingredient that is found in some skin lightening creams. While considered less harmful than either kojic acid or Hydronquinone when used in small amounts, citric acids may cause some skin irritation in people with sensitive skin. Citric acid should only be used with other skin soothing ingredients and in small amounts.
Extrapone Nutgrass – this is one of the safest whitening agents available today. It is clinically proven to reduce the production of melanin by up to 40%. What makes this natural ingredient great is the fact that unlike most other skin lightening ingredients that irritate the skin, Extrapone Nutgrass actually prevents skin irritation. It gently, but effectively lightens dark spots without irritating the skin or having any other negative side effects. It also has anti-aging properties that help to reduce the appearance of visible signs of aging like lines and wrinkles.
Arbutin – This plant extract is derived from the leaves of bearberry, blueberry and cranberry is known as a safer and natural alternative to hydroquinone. It is not as harsh as hydroquinone, so it may not produce results as fast, but that also means that it does not have the harmful side effects associated with hydroquinone.
Lactic Acid – Lactic acid is considered to be the safest of all skin lightening ingredients. Lactic acid comes from sour milk and while it can cause some irritation to sensitive skin, it is normally well tolerated by most people. Lactic acid in low levels can effectively lighten dark spots in skin over time.
The truth is, skin lightening is safe when done the right way and with a product that contains natural ingredients that haves been proven to be safe and effective. It is important that you chose your skin lightener carefully avoiding those that contain harmful chemicals and harsh ingredients. There are some safe and natural skin lightening products on the market today, but you need to choose carefully among the ingredients that these products contain.