In some cultures and areas, white skin is considered a sign of beauty and youth. Skin whitening creams and products are used to provide that look. Some people might use them to attempt to even out areas of the skin that are darker or lighter than others. Regardless of whether vanity or other reasons drive them, there is a lucrative market for skin whitening creams out there, which means there are products attempting to fill the niche. However, consumers should be mindful of the ingredients in the products they use. Some of them, while effective, might have side effects that could damage the skin.
A powerful antioxidant, glutathione is also believed to have properties that boost the immune system. Like most antioxidants, it can also help the skin by countering the damage done to skin cells by oxidization. The use of this chemical in skin whitening lotions was found as a side effect of its main function. Those who took higher doses of glutathione experienced a lightening of the color of the skin. According to tests, it should produce the same effect for the skin whether applied directly or taken orally.
Papain is a natural enzyme found in papaya and sometimes used as an ingredient in skin whitening lotions. It is more commonly used in exfoliating products to dissolve dead skin cells. Papain has properties that lead to the whitening and softening of skin, and they can also improve the collagen in the cells to stimulate repair. Toxin-free variants of this are most often used, though some older products may still have the impure variant. This can cause damage to cells if applied excessively, causing skin discoloration.
Older skin whitening creams may contain trace amounts of mercury in them. This heavy metal is known to whiten the skin, but it is advisable to avoid a skin bleaching product that has it, even in small amounts. Mercury is toxic once it enters the bloodstream, causing damage to the kidneys or brain. Due to regulations imposed on the cosmetics industry by authorities such as the Food and Drug Administration, this ingredient is being phased out of all modern cosmetics.
A derivative form of vitamin A, retinol is considered a key ingredient in a number of skin whitening creams. The molecular structure of retinol is small enough to slip into the skin easily, where it improves the pigmentation of the cells. It can also increase the skin’s hydration levels and reduce wrinkles. However, there are some people who may have skin that is sensitive to this product, causing redness and itchiness.
There are other products that make their way into skin whitening creams and the like, each with their own claims to effectiveness and list of potential side effects. The specific mixes that these products have are more of a concern, as the stronger ones might be more effective, but also cause damage to sensitive skin. Consultation with a dermatologist is advisable for people to know what products are suited for their skin.