Skin whitening creams are one of the most popular skin lightening product types out there.
As a result of the growing trend of skin whitening, various skin whitening products have been created and skin whitening creams are one of them.
It’s found that skin whitening creams are the most commonly used skin whitening products among consumers.
What Are Skin Whitening Creams
Creams are a mixture of oil and water. However, oil content is much higher than the water content in skin creams. Therefore, it’s best used for dry skin and in winter to add a moisturizing effect, preventing skin cracking and hyperpigmentation, which in turn results in more skin whitening and brightening.
Moreover, as a result of its high oil content, its absorption through skin layers is slower than other skin whitening products.
How They Work
Skin whitening creams are topical products that are absorbed through the skin layers to reach the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) on which active ingredients work to block the melanin production or even to destroy the melanocytes themselves.
Skin whitening creams consist of one active ingredient or a combination of different active ingredients. The most commonly used active ingredient in skin whitening creams is hydroquinone which is found at little concentrations in over the counter skin whitening creams as a result of its side effects.
So, high hydroquinone concentrations are only prescribed by dermatologists.
However, there are some safe alternatives to hydroquinone, which can efficiently whiten the skin, blocking the melanin pigment production. Glutathione is the safest alternative to hydroquinone.
Research studies stated that glutathione is completely safe, with no side effects and that it’s actually effective.
Moreover, vitamin C, arbutin and kojic acid are also safe, natural alternatives to hydroquinone.
Another new active ingredient to be included in Asian skin whitening creams is niacinamide. Research studies stated that niacinamide is also safe with no side effects at all, in addition to its high efficacy.
Using mercury in the industry of skin whitening has been banned in many countries as a result of its very dangerous side effects, however, some may still use such substances.
So, it’s recommended to make sure that your skin whitening creams don’t contain mercury, especially that it also can be listed under other names such as mercuric, calomel, mercurio or mercurous.
Also, sometimes sun protecting agents are added to the formula of skin whitening creams in order to add a sunscreen effect that protects the skin from any further damage or hyperpigmentation caused by the sun.
In addition, some skin whitening active ingredients may increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun so adding sunscreen to your skin whitening routine is recommended by dermatologists, or choosing a skin whitening cream with a sunscreen effect would be of advantage.
Exfoliants may be also added, either natural fruit acids or synthetic glycolic acid or salicylic acid.
Exfoliation helps to brighten the skin, which adds a more whitening effect to the cream, via dissolving the superficial, dead, hyperpigmented skin layers and leaving the new, healthy, less pigmented layers below, for a brighter, more glowing look.
Adding moisturizer agents can also be beneficial to the skin whitening process as skin dryness may cause cracking and scarring of the skin which in turn cause more hyperpigmentation to such damaged skin.
That’s why a skin whitening cream with moisturizing agents is of advantage, especially for dry skin and also in winter when skin is damaged most.
Sometimes, steroids can be added to the skin whitening cream formula to decrease the redness and inflammation that may accompany using such creams. However, prolonged use of steroids containing skin whitening creams may do more harm than good.
- One of the most important advantages of skin whitening creams is that they are not invasive. Also, they are not time or money consuming.
- They don’t require the intravenous introduction of the product or even long sessions of several hours. It’s just a topical product that can be applied on the skin in minutes to be absorbed and do its action, especially when choosing high-quality creams that don’t leave any grease and feel thin while applying.
- Also, in comparison to skin whitening procedures such as laser skin whitening treatment, skin whitening creams are much cheaper, especially that they are easy to use and no doctor appointments are needed.
- They are very easy to use so, everyone can use them, anywhere, with no time or place commitment.
- On the contrary to skin whitening procedures such as chemical peeling, there’s no recovery time needed. So, it’s not time-consuming.
- Also, skin whitening maintenance would be very easy with skin whitening creams as it doesn’t require doctor visits or traveling to treatment centers.
That’s why skin whitening creams are the most commonly used skin whitening products among consumers all over the world.
- Low-quality skin whitening creams can be greasy, leaving a thick layer behind.
- Also, skin whitening creams contain a high amount of oil so, it’s not suitable for oily skin or even in summer as it may clog the skin pores causing acne.
- Skin whitening creams are not the fastest option for skin whitening as some creams, even hydroquinone-containing creams may even take 4 to 6 weeks to just start working. So, whitening the skin via creams is a slow, gradual process that may take months to achieve the preferred results.
- Some active ingredients included in skin whitening creams can cause dangerous side effects. Hydroquinone, for example, if used for a long time, can cause more hyperpigmentation of the skin. Also, it’s been associated with cancer in laboratory rats but not proved in humans yet.
- Moreover, skin redness, swelling, and allergic reactions can also develop after using some skin whitening creams, so, mixing skin whitening creams with moisturizers or choosing a skin whitening cream with moisturizing active ingredients is recommended to avoid such problem.
- Also, skin whitening creams make the skin more sensitive to sun damage, therefore, sunscreens or choosing a skin whitening cream with sunscreen effects is recommended to prevent further sun damage and re-darkening of the skin.
- Mercury can also be absorbed via the skin layers to reach the blood, causing “mercury poisoning”, in the form of local skin damage or organ failures. Mercury also has been associated with cancer development. That’s why it’s been banned in many countries all over the world.
- Steroids containing skin whitening creams shouldn’t be used for a long time as steroids may cause thinning of the skin, losing its elasticity and its defense against sun damage as well as physical damage.
When To See The Results And How Long They Last
Skin whitening creams are slowly absorbed and they slowly penetrate the skin layers, to the extent that some of these creams may take 4 to 6 weeks to even start working, achieving the preferred results in 4 to 6 months.
However, some creams may start lightening the skin color in only 2 to 4 weeks. Moreover, skin whitening creams are considered a long-lasting option for skin whitening, especially hydroquinone-containing creams, however, it’s not a permanent one so, maintenance treatment is also recommended to keep the new skin color.