Regardless of our skin colour, our skin goals of having an even skin tone, a healthy glow and clear, bright skin is often the same. However, in the quest for flawless skin, there is a lot of confusion, especially when it comes to finding the right skin solution. Often, we mistake skin bleaching for skin lightening. But skin bleaching has got a bad rap and rightly so! Apart from being physically harmful, it is equally detrimental to one’s mental health. Instead of helping achieve healthy skin which amplifies beauty, it distorts the concept of beauty, leading to psychological and emotional issues.
So, how can you achieve your goal of a healthier, more radiant skin? We did the legwork for you. Here’s your all-inclusive guide to the world of skin lightening or whitening you’re seeking!
What is Skin Lightening?
Skin lightening is a cosmetic procedure that aims to enhance the tone of your skin by lightening and brightening the dark spots present on the skin. Most skin lightening or whitening treatments aim to remove blemishes and tanning by reducing the amount of melanin responsible for the dark shades of the skin.
What is the difference between skin bleaching and skin lightening solutions?
Skin bleaching or whitening is the process of laundering your skin tone beyond what your natural skin tone may be. The goal of these treatments is to whiten or fade your skin until it is at a lighter complexion than what you were born with. The method of achieving this enhancement can be done using a variety of chemicals, some of which are considered dangerous and cause severe side effects such as burns and scars.
In contrast to skin bleaching, skin lightening is a positive procedure that helps achieve a uniform and spotless lighter complexion. It’s considered safe as the procedures are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Skin lightening or whitening is the process of using products that lighten dark spots caused by hyperpigmentation. In essence, it evens your skin tone by focusing on areas affected by discolouration like acne and blemishes or age spots, sunspots, freckles, pigmentation on the face, back, hands and intimate areas also. The good thing about skin lightening is it actually seeks out and corrects uneven colouration rather than just covering it up so users achieve a more even, consistent skin tone all over.
Skin lightening treatments are gaining popularity in many countries throughout the world, especially in countries where lighter skin is desired and sought after. This type of treatment has been used to reduce the discolouration that can take months and even years to go away naturally—helping men and women gain the perfect healthy skin they’ve always wanted.
What conditions can Skin Lightening be beneficial for?
Skin lightening or brightening is a powerful technique for anyone who needs to enhance the appearance of his/her skin. The treatment viably enhances the presence of skin by correcting the following conditions:
- Break-out/acne scars
- Uneven skin tone
- Hyperpigmentation and melasma
- Sun harmed/sunspot skin
- Age spots
- General dull and dim skin
Skin lightening procedures can be done not just on the face but also on specific body parts including:
- Hands and feet
- Inner thighs
- Bikini area
What are the treatment options for Skin Lightening?
Nowadays, there are various types of treatments that are available in the market which will help you achieve optimum results. Some of these treatments/lightening agents are listed below:
- Chemical Peels: A chemical peel lightens discoloured skin tone by effectively reducing dark spots, facial blemishes, and tan. A dermatologist will exfoliate the damaged upper layers of your skin with a solution consisting of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). This will help you to get rid of the melanin build-up and will allow healthy tissues to appear on the upper layer. These peels are often used as a face lightening treatment.
- Products: Skin lightening products are indeed available easily today. These chemical-based products contain ingredients like retinol, glycolic acid, lactic acid, azelaic acid, hydroquinone, arbutin, and kojic acid. It helps lighten the colour of the skin and also reduces ageing spots, freckles, as well as stretch marks. However, some of these might lighten the skin but will not offer long-term permanent results. It is advisable to talk to your dermatologist before using these products as few of them can be hazardous to your skin and can cause long term side effects.
- Injections: Skin lightening injections can protect the skin from harmful UV rays, detoxify the body, and enhance your skin tone. It contains glutathione, a powerful antioxidant which our body produces that minimises the production of tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for the increase in melanin levels in our skin. Glutathione is said to be “possibly safe” when given under dermatologist supervision as a shot. Some studies state that a high dosage of glutathione can cause severe liver and kidney side effects and is unsafe. You must discuss the effects with your dermatologist before opting for this treatment.
- Laser Treatment: This treatment is also known as lasabrasion or laser peel. The treatment helps in effectively reducing concerns like dark spots, sun tanning, skin pigmentation, and dull skin. The dermatologist, while performing the laser treatment, will use a concentrated beam of light/laser to break down of melanin, hence minimise the build-up of melanin in the area targeted. This treatment is safe for lightening the skin tone of both the face and specific body parts.
- Other treatments like mesotherapy, microneedling and certain injections with hyaluronic acids can help to lighten your skin.
Is Skin Lightening safe?
Skin lightening treatments namely laser, chemical peels and injections are considered safe as they aim to reduce the production of melanin in the skin. Products that have hydroquinone or bleach should be avoided completely and should be used under strict dermatologist supervision. Once thought to be a safe and effective skin-lightening agent, hydroquinone safety has been a concern recently as high dose of oral hydroquinone can cause cancer. Also, topical application is known to cause serious health hazards when used excessively. Many beaching products include harmful chemicals such as mercury that can be absorbed through the skin and accumulate in body organs. Chronic exposure to mercury at low level can cause long term neurological and kidney problems.
Always consult with an expert dermatologist and choose safe products with gentle, natural ingredients to effectively lighten the skin.
How long do the effects of Skin Lightening treatment last?
Skin lightening treatment is not permanent and can last anywhere between six months to few years. One should know that chemical peels and bleaching agents, while helping in skin lightening do not offer a permanent solution. Laser treatments on the other hand do provide a more permanent result for skin lightening. However, dermatologists recommend some tips to sustain the results of skin lighting treatments, this includes:
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet and increasing the intake of water
- Following a proper skin-care regime and oral antioxidant supplements
- Applying sunscreen which gives your skin maximum protection from harmful UV rays
- Visiting the clinic for your maintenance sessions
Still in doubt? Schedule a consultation with our skin experts. They will discuss your skin lightening goals and expectations and will guide you on the right treatment or combination of treatments.