Skin Whitening Serums – What Are They And When Expect Results


In the skin care industry, skin whitening serums are getting more popular and as a result of the skin whitening trend, skin whitening serums were developed.

Skin whitening serums are stated to be highly effective with fast results.

However, some skin whitening serums may not be that effective, containing harsh chemicals that may cause harmful side effects to the skin or other body systems.

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What Are They And How They Work?

Skin whitening serums can be oil-based or water-based. In general, skin whitening serums contain higher amounts of water than most skin whitening products.

So, they are best used for oily skin and also in summer when the skin is oily the most, for the sake of not clogging the skin pores, preventing pimples formation.

However, the ratio between the water and the oil content in serums may vary so, there are water-based skin whitening serums and oil-based skin whitening serums.

Water-based serums contain more water than oil, so the particles of the serum are small enough to be rapidly absorbed, penetrating the skin layers to reach the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) reducing their action of producing melanin.

Because of such characteristics of water-based skin whitening serums, they are best applied after cleansing and before the application of moisturizers.

As regards the oil-based skin whitening serums, they contain more oil than water and their particles are large enough to stay on the skin for longer periods. That’s why they are best applied after the application of moisturizers for a long-lasting effect the whole day.

Skin Lightening Active Ingredients

Skin whitening serums contain higher concentrations of skin whitening active ingredients, even more than the other skin whitening products. Several active ingredients are included in the skin whitening serums’ formula.

However, vitamin C seems to be the most common one to be included, and sometimes, it’s the only active ingredient for many highly effective skin whitening serums. It’s a natural, safe alternative to hydroquinone, decreasing the melanin pigment production.

Also, vitamin C is suggested to increase the glutathione levels which can also decrease the melanin pigment production, doubling the whitening effect of vitamin C.

  • Arbutin is also one of the most common active ingredients of skin whitening serums, which is stated to be effective, reducing hyperpigmented areas and whitening the skin via the reduction of melanin amount in the skin layers. It’s also stated to be safe.
  • Kojic acid is another safe, natural alternative to hydroquinone to be included in the formula of skin whitening serums. Research studies stated its efficacy and safety, limiting the melanin pigment production.
  • Vitamin E can also be included. The reason behind such increase in the popularity of vitamin E addition in skin whitening serums or in the skin whitening routine is being an antioxidant, protecting the skin against any harmful toxins or damage caused by the sun or the aging process and therefore, protecting the skin against the formation of any hyperpigmented areas. It’s also stated to reduce the melanin amount in the skin as well as increasing glutathione levels in the blood, which significantly increases its skin whitening effect.

Moreover, sometimes, hydroquinone is also added in the formula of skin whitening serums but only in low concentrations, not exceeding 2%, as a result of its harmful side effects such as the skin hyperpigmentation caused by long-term use of hydroquinone.

Research studies even suggested its correlation with body cancers but it’s not yet confirmed in humans.

Moisturizing agents are also added to avoid that drying effect other skin whitening products may cause, like skin whitening soaps. Moisturizing the skin is very essential in the process of skin whitening as skin dryness and cracking may induce hyperpigmentation and dark spots formation.

That’s why it’s very important to choose skin whitening serums with moisturizing agents or consider heavy moisturizers in your skin whitening routine.

Also, some skin whitening serums may contain exfoliant agents such as salicylic, lactic and citric acids, gently exfoliating the superficial, dead, hyper pigmented layers of the skin to reveal the young, healthy, less pigmented layers below.


  • Skin whitening serums are considered one of the most effective topical skin whitening products.
  • They are highly effective and if used correctly, as instructed, the results would appear in a short time.
  • In comparison to laser sessions, they are actually cheap.
  • They are lightweight so they don’t feel greasy as their water content is much higher than the other topical skin whitening products.
  • They are not invasive with no need for any intravenous procedures so, there’s no need for traveling to doctors’ clinics or even long sessions so, they are not time or money consuming.
  • They are very easy to use so, they can be used by anyone with no need for doctors or professional nurses for the application.
  • No need for recovery time as there is no skin swelling or redness after the application, as opposed to chemical peeling sessions.
  • Maintenance would be easy as there are skin whitening serums specific for maintenance treatment, with no need for doctor appointments.


  • Low-quality skin whitening serums can be ineffective, with no visible effects after months of daily use.
  • They are a bit costly, more expensive than other topical skin whitening products.
  • Some of the active ingredients included in skin whitening serums may cause harmful side effects such as hydroquinone that may cause hyperpigmentation of the skin when used for a long time or even cause cancers.

When To See The Results And How Long They Last?

Despite being topical products, skin whitening serums are effective enough to visibly whiten the skin in only 7 days of daily use.

Thanks to their high water content, skin whitening serums can penetrate the skin layers rapidly and the particles of oil-based skin whitening serums are big enough to stay on the skin’s surface the whole day, which enhances their whitening effect. Therefore, the desired results can be achieved in only 2 months of daily use.

However, low-quality ones may be ineffective, showing no effects even after months of daily use. The skin whitening effect of serums is not permanent. So, a maintenance treatment is required to keep the new color. Therefore, skin whitening serums specific for maintenance treatment were developed.

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