How to Lighten Dark Skin?
Our obsession with pale light skin is nothing new. Most people with a darker skin tone want their skin to be lighter. They invest a huge sum of money on skin care products or doctor’s appointments. However some of these solutions are short lived while others give a life-long result. Let’s venture into some details about how to lighten dark skin!
What is the skin color determined by?
Our skin has specialized cells called Melanocytes that produce a pigment called Melanin. People with darker skin have increased production of melanin where as lighter skin tone people have less melanin pigmentation.
Melanin pigmentation is determined by one’s genes. Other factors affecting it are exposure to the sun, chemicals, hormonal changes etc. Color changes like a “tan” will eventually fade off and revert back to the original skin color, while other changes like Spots of Aging are more or less permanent.
What are Skin Lighteners?
Skin Lighteners are generally products that contain an active ingredient or a bunch of ingredients that come together to reduce the amount of melanin produced in the skin, making the skin tone lighter.
The FDA has approved of Hydroquinone as an active ingredient in skin lightening products; a vast majority of skin lighteners use this as an ingredient.
Generally, over-the-counter products contain 2% of hydroquinone while prescription products may contain up to 4% of hydroquinone.
Other Products may contain drugs like steroids or retinoic acid (Vitamin A) or natural ingredients like Kojic acid and Arbutin (which comes from plants).
What are the options available for skin lightening ?
There are generally 2 options available.
1. Use of Topical Creams/ Gels/ Masks for skin lightening:
Commercial Products: Usually these products contain hydroquinone, retinoic acid, kojic acid etc as active ingredients- available in gel or cream form.
Home Remedies: Home remedies for lightening skin are also very effective forms of treatment. Example:
– A paste of sandalwood powder mixed turmeric and rose water can be applied as a mask and then rinsed off after leaving it on for 20 minutes.
– Massaging the skin with a mixture of lemon juice, honey and curd can lighten skin and make it glossy, if done on a daily basis.
Surgical options for skin lightening provide more permanent results. Some of these treatments are:
– LASER Surgery: This treatment is more effective in removing dark spots that even out the skin tone rather than making the entire face lighter.
– Cryosurgery: Liquid Nitrogen used in cryotherapy causes the melanin pigment to rise up to the surface layers of the skin , which is then peeled off, revealing the lighter skin.
– A variety of chemical peels options are also available as a surgical option for skin lightening.
Risks involved with Skin Lightening:
– 25% of the skin lightening options available contain mercury as an ingredient. Exposure to mercury is not healthy for the body and may cause psychological, neurologic or kidney problems.
– Long term use increases the risk of developing skin cancer.
– Premature skin aging.
– Hydroquinone may cause undesired skin discoloration.
– Steroids in skin lighteners increases acne and risk of other infections.
– Bleaching agents and products containing natural ingredients may lead to irritation of the skin or allergy.
It is very important for a person to feel comfortable in their own skin. Accepting yourself with your flaws really boosts your confidence, which is the key to success in life. Whether your purpose is to get fairer skin, minimize age spots, or getting rid of dark pigmentation, Skin lightening procedures can be a practical option. However, it is very important that you consult with your physician before using any of the skin lightening products or treatments, with a detailed understanding of the possible risks involved.