3 Dangerous Skin Lightening Ingredients You Must Avoid
Using skin lightening products has been a controversial topic over the last decade due to some of the products containing some of the most harmful ingredients and chemicals that can impact your health in a very negative way. It’s quite an unfortunate circumstance too, as there are many safe alternatives without the use of harmful chemicals to lighten the skin effectively.
While there are better alternatives for a lighter complexion, some have gone to greater lengths to achieve a glowing, whiter, radiant complexion by experimenting with “dodgy” or low-quality skin lightening products that contain dangerous chemicals. Due to these experimentation’s, it’s come at a cost, posing a risk to their health.
Products from questionable sources, or rather those that aren’t FDA approved (or in some cases banned from the FDA) can result in serious skin conditions that do much more harm than good.
While some products that are available provide exceptional results, there is still a higher number of cases of untested and unregulated products that pose serious health risks and allergic reactions that impact the skin and cause permanent damage. Because of this, doing thorough research is crucial and comes into play before you decide to proceed with applying suspicious products directly on your skin.
A good way to understand how safe a product is or rather how it performs is to first look at the ingredients listed. Next, check out the customer reviews and product history to have a better understanding of its nature. To simply put it, if a product has more negative than positive reviews, it’s a good indicator to stay clear of it and find something else that seems more promising. We also recommend using secure and safe sites when it comes to buying skincare products online.
At the end of the day, skincare is supposed to be fun and worry-free. We encourage the idea of being adventurous and trying new skincare products that hit the market, just be sure to do your research on any skincare product before buying. Also, remember that some of these products are not for everyone and we recommend trying a swatch on the back of your hand before ever fully distributing on the areas you want to treat.
Now that we have established a brief summary about buying suspicious skincare products, let us now move on to the three dangerous ingredients to watch out for if you’re planning to expand your line of skincare products this year. Here is a quick list of some of the most popular active skin-lightening ingredients used in skin lightening that should be avoided.
Dating back to the early 1900s, Mercury was the main ingredient used for altering the pigmentation of the skin because of its abilities to interfere with the production of melanin once directly applied. Mercury was cheap and easily accessible making it a convenience for anyone who wanted to lighten their complexion entirely. Though popular by demand, years later into the future, mercury was deemed hazardous and classified as a toxic chemical by the FDA, warning that mercury should never be ingested or used on the body.
This chemical has many dangerous side effects with some being kidney damage, skin discoloration, excessive scarring on the skin, and in extreme cases, causing outer layers of the skin to peel while creating a blueish, grey complexion.
Apart from the physical effects of using this chemical, mercury can also affect brain functions and impair speech and hearing functions. Prolonged use of products that are laced with mercury has also shown to increase anxiety, depression, psychosis, and brain defects to newborn children during pregnancy.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of mercury poisoning is by avoiding any skincare products that are homemade and use only those that contain a list of certified ingredients. Coming across products that promise instant whitening without an exact list of ingredients that it’s formulated with, odds are it’s too good to be true and may contain toxic chemicals.
As previously mentioned, always be careful with every ingredient label. Ensure the product is FDA approved and has an actual list of ingredients. Anything less, we recommend staying clear of it.
Most importantly, when skimming over the list of ingredients, it should be known that mercury isn’t always classified. Sometimes companies try to be tricky with words and may rename it under mercurous chloride, calomel, mercuric, or mercurio. If you notice any of the following words listed in a cream, serum or moisturizer, don’t use it anymore and dispose of it immediately.
When it comes to using steroids, they’re not all that bad, in fact, it’s common practice for some dermatologist to prescribe steroids for anti-inflammatory purposes in cases such as eczema or psoriasis; however, steroids have never been intended for prolonged use such as in the case of cosmetics, especially if used beyond the prescribed time period.
If you are someone who has used steroids or corticosteroids previously, then you may have noticed visible results of skin lightening from taking them regularly. However, this does not mean it’s fine to incorporate them in your skincare regimen.
Steroids have three different stages that are dangerous in terms of lightening the skin. They can bleach the skin by constricting blood vessels and allow for less blood to pass through to give off the appearance of lighter, paler skin.
Another way is by slowing down the process of cell turnover, which results in fewer melanocytes being formed in the body. That alone is quite dangerous due to it permanently thinning the skin’s epidermis.
Finally, steroids can inhibit the production of key hormones within our bodies that are crucial in regulating certain functions.
When a doctor prescribes steroids to a patient, there is often a specific set of instructions to follow when taking them for treatment. Usually, there is a specific number of days for it to be taken and used. Doing so avoids potential long-term damage to the skin. Don’t ever resort to using prescribed steroidal medication without it being prescribed by a medical professional. Doing so can end with serious reactions and consequences of the skin.
New to the market of skincare products, Monobenzone is used by doctors to treat forms of Vitiligo, which is a rare skin disease that causes a reaction within the body to selectively kill melanocytes. Monobenzone medication helps to combat the skin lightening reaction caused by this disease.
From its popularity of having the ability to control vitiligo, the drug itself was eventually turned into a more lucrative formulation and sold over-the-counter as a skin lightening cure. However, after being tested by scientist, it’s being discovered that Monobenzone has no real benefits outside of being a treatment for those who suffer from vitiligo. Despite it being a beneficial treatment, Monobenzone causes excessive damage to the body.
While this chemical can kill away melanocytes, it shows no sign of having a measurable effect in terms of lighter skin that lasts, which means any noticeable lightening is just a temporary effect and dark spots will likely reappear after a year of continued use regardless.
Monobenzone can also develop uneven depigmentation of the skin and increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. In terms of depigmentation, it can pose a threat to those you come in close contact with. By using monobenzone, you can inadvertently cause depigmentation to other people’s skin by simple contact. With that said, this skin lightening chemical not only poses risks to yourself but can put others at risk. Please avoid using products that contain monobenzone.
Although known as a controversial skin lightening chemical, hydroquinone differs greatly from the other chemicals above, if used correctly.
Since becoming banned in Africa in the 1990s and later Europe following suit, hydroquinone has continued to have a bad reputation for being used in skin whitening products today. However, as time has gone by, research has discovered that hydroquinone can provide promising results in terms of lighter, brighter skin. Around the time it was banned, the hydroquinone found in Africa was deemed unsafe because it contained steroids and mercury. They were the harmful culprits that had posed a health risk, and it was not due to hydroquinone itself.
Because of its unique effects, scientist became intrigued with pharmaceutical hydroquinone. Studies have now shown positive results from using the chemical. It is now widely understood that a dosage of hydroquinone 2% or less is safe to use on the skin, making it safe to be sold over-the-counter in lower concentrates. For those who want more drastic results from hydroquinone, a 4% concentrate can be prescribed by a medical professional to achieve desired results of whiter skin.
In terms of how this chemical works, it functions as a melanin inhibitor, interfering with the production of melanin to lighten the skin by several shades. When an excess amount of melanin clumps together, it can form unflattering dark spots and patches on the dermis.
Impressively, hydroquinone is only one of the few chemicals available that can lighten the skin’s complexion in a specific time frame of between 8-12 weeks.
However, you need to always use caution when using products that contain a large percentage of hydroquinone as it’s not meant for long-term use. Doctors will usually only prescribe this product for a period of three months only if it does not inhibit other crucial enzymes your body needs like homogentisic acid oxidase. Lacking this enzyme can end up causing a disease called Ochronosis, which produces blue-black blotches on the skin (more commonly those with darker complexions specifically).
As tempting as it may be to use hydroquinone for its effectiveness in lightening the skin, not all good things come without risk. Melanin inhibition isn’t a permanent solution, once removed from the drug, the levels of tyrosinase will go back to normal, and the natural pigmentation of your skin will regenerate.
To maximize the effectiveness of a hydroquinone treatment, always ensure the product you’re using has optimal effects through proper storage by stowing it away in a dark space, away from light and heat. Doing so keeps the ingredients from becoming less potent.
It’s also an excellent idea to finish off your hydroquinone application with a layer of broad SPF sunscreen for optimal protection against the suns UV rays. Doing so avoids the possibility of tanning which is not something you want if you are looking for lighter skin.
Wrapping Things Up
When it comes to using skin lightening products, the chances of finding a product that can lighten your skin, be effective, and most importantly safe, is possible if you just follow each of our steps and do your research. Don’t forget; you can always opt for all-natural skin lightening formulas to avoid any potential risk with chemical based products. Because they are rich in fruit and plant extracts, all-natural formulated products can work exceptionally well for safely lightening the skin.
Lastly, always remember that when it comes to improving how your skin looks, there is no room for shorting out just to get the results you want faster. The trick to lighter, brighter, healthy skin is all about the kind of product you use, the dedication you put in, and maintaining your skincare lightening routine on a regular basis!