Skin Fairy

Skin Lightening; Tips and Hazards

Skin lightening creams are used to help redress the balance of a person’s skin tone. Black people will use these products because they no longer want to suffer from the dark spots that have appeared on the face and arms due to the after effects of acne, a rash, or a bad cut. But most do it because they live in a society where a lighter skin complexion is prized over dark skin.

The price for beauty has often seen many dangerous products emerge on the market only to be quickly removed through the swift action of local health authorities. However skin lightening products have not fallen prey to regulation and new brands emerge on a daily basis.

Melanin in the skin darkens your skin color. In fact this is what happens when you get darker after exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Your skin produces more melanin to help protect it from sunburn. Melanin is a skin pigment.

Skin lightening creams suppress the melanin production. So if you have less melanin in your skin it is lighter. So if you have less melanin in your skin it is lighter.

Skin lightening treatments for black skin can work extremely well but you must take care when choosing a skin lightening cream. It is important to know what the active ingredients are and what the levels are.

Certain products work well if the dosage is correct but if you use skin bleaching agents where the concentration of the bleach is too high you will be doing more damage to your skin which could result in permanent scarring.

Here is a list of some of the ingredients found in skin lightening products:·        

  • Hydroquinone
  • Glycolic acid
  • Retinoids
  • Topical steroids

Hydroquinone

This is most probably the best known acid that can be found in skin lightening creams. It can be highly effective as long as the amount contained in the soap or cream isn’t too high.

Glycolic Acid

This ingredient is found in a wide range of facial cleansers, facial peel products and skin creams.

Retinoids

This is a derivative of vitamin A which can also be found in anti aging products. It has been medically proven that vitamin A helps to improve the appearance of the skin to make it look and feel rejuvenated.

Topical Steroids

This is the one type of skin lightening product that should be obtained via a prescription. It is a powerful treatment so needs to be monitored by a medical professional.

Hazards

Unfortunately, long term use of skin lightening agent causes hypopigmentation and a pale, dull appearance of the skin. This leaves the skin prone to sun damage and often hyperpigmentation (dark discolouration of the skin) sets in.

These compounds are inhibit the normal secretion of the skin pigment, melanin, which varies in density among different race groups.

Unfortunately, long term use of skin lightening agent causes hypopigmentation and a pale, dull appearance of the skin. This leaves the skin prone to sun damage and often hyperpigmentation (dark discolouration of the skin) sets in.

The lack of regulation on the cosmetic industry has allowed manufacturers to use high concentrations of these compounds in skin bleaching creams. These chemicals often cause dry, itchy, cracked and peeling skin but the onset of these symptoms varies among each person.

Pharmaceutical Products for Skin Lightening

A disturbing trend is the use of scheduled corticosteroid ointments as a skin lightening agent. These pharmaceutical products are being sold through some pharmacies without a prescription and a lack of proper education on the uses and dangers of these creams.

Street vendors selling counterfeit versions of these well known, pharmaceutical grade creams is a common sight in most areas in Nigeria esp. Lagos and attempts by NAFDAC to stop the trade in these product have proven unsuccessful. I’d mention the names here but that might get the exact opposite reaction from some readers.

The search for a lighter skin complexion will undoubtedly continue for years to come and even with awareness about the dangers of these products, consumers are prepared to risk their health.

Attempting to alter the natural skin pigmentation with skin lightening products will eventually lead to disastrous effects that are difficult and costly to reverse.

Tips for Getting Rid of Dark Skin

Although there are no particular foods that will lighten your skin instantly, a balanced diet definitely helps by giving your skin a healthy glow.

Drinking an optimum amount of water hydrates your skin and keeps it blemish free. Some recommendations regarding diet are as follows –

·  Avoid excessive consumption of heavy and oily foods.
·  Incorporate whole cereals, pulses, fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.
·  Drink at least 4-5 liters of water every day. Water washes out the toxins from the body.

Other suggestions for dark skin:

·   Use a good quality sunscreen when going out in the sun to protect the skin from tanning as well as the sun’s UV rays. Be regular and persistent with the use of sunscreen.

Finally, no matter how much you would like to whiten your skin it’s not worth taking the risk of cancer or other health problems. Be very careful. 

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