Have you been looking for that flawless lighter complexion? The kind of look that Korean women seem to achieve effortlessly?
Well it’s certainly possibly to lighten or whiten the skin on your face. But there are some important things you need to be careful of.
Is It Possible To Lighten Your Skin Without Damaging It?
The simple answer to this question is yes, it is possible to achieve a lighter complexion with doing harm to your delicate facial skin. However, it needs to be done carefully using the right kind of products. Ideally also under the supervision of a dermatologist, but we realise this can be expensive.
How Do Skin Lightening Creams Work?
Firstly, lets talk about creams, as this is the way most people will approach skin whitening.
Your skin tone is determined by the levels of melanin in your skin. The skin produces melanin to protect itself from the harmful UV rays of the sun. People with higher melanin levels are at a lower risk of getting skin cancer, and their skin tends to wrinkle less with age. It’s our skin natural defence mechanism. So it’s even more important to remember to use a high SPF sunscreen as your skin becomes lighter.
Face lightening creams work in two different ways:
- Those that inhibit the production of melanin in your skin, forcing the skin to lighten/whiten over a period of time.
- Those that exfoliate the older outer skin layers to expose the inner, softer and less pigmented layers.
Most products you can find for skin lightening work in one of these two ways. Although some may actually do both.
Face Whitening Products That Work
There are plenty of creams and lotions that are known to be very effective in lightening facial skin. The products retail under different brand names, but they have some things in common, which is their main active ingredients.
Hydroquinone is probably the most common active ingredient in face lightening creams. The FDA approves the use of a 2% concentration of hydroquinone in products that treat hyperpigmentation. But this advice has changed a lot in recent years – the USA is now a lot more cautious about hydroquinone use in any cosmetic product. Other countries are even more concerned and have banned the use completely!
NOTE: There are now effective alternatives which are considered safer.
Probably the most popular (and effective) natural ingredient used to lighten facial areas is kojic acid, which is derived from a species of mushroom. Arbutin is also commonly used – this comes from the bearberry plant. Surprisingly vitamin C is another naturally occurring active ingredient shown to be effective in skin lightening creams.
There are also many other ingredients which also have more minor effects which can be combined with these to create a face whitening cream that works well.
Some of the typical creams that have the above active ingredients include BrightAlive non-retinol skin brightener, Civant’s Meladerm, Brightamax, Lytera skin brightening complex, C-Bright 10 percent vitamin C and several others.
You can read our reviews of some of these products here.
Are There Any ‘Quick Fixes’ That Work?
One of the non-chemical quick fixes known to work is the use of laser therapy. There are three different types of laser treatments that work as a quick fix for anyone who wants their skin to go a few shades brighter:
- Intense Pulsed Laser Treatments: this is a non-ablative method of stimulating the deep layers of skin cells to rejuvenate skin. It is known as a ‘photo facial’ by most people.
- Fractionated CO2 Lasers: these are the best quick fix for skin that has been damaged by acne and scars.
- LED lasers: These are by far the fastest and most effective treatments for skin lightening.
The downside of these treatments is of course the cost. They are a lot more expensive than using a lightening cream.
Use Of Combination Therapies
When you are consulting with a dermatologist, they may suggest that you use a combination of treatments for the fastest results. Combination therapies may include chemical peels, laser treatments, dermal injected drugs and other non-ablative techniques to brighten and even out the skin tone.
It’s important to discuss anything you might already be doing with a specialist before adding any extra treatments.
Be Careful Where You Buy
Be very careful about only buying products from trusted sources. Ideally buy online direct from the manufacturer if you can.
There are a lot of illicit skin brightening creams that find their way into cheap stores. These have commonly been shown to include hydroquinone even when the ingredients do not list it, and even include amounts of hydroquinone far beyond what they should. Some have even included mercury which although effective is also highly toxic!
Possible side effects of using such products include:
- Excessive concentration of melanin on parts of the body such as the lips, making them look mismatched with the rest of the skin.
- The bleached panda effect where the area around the eyes is left looking darker than the remainder of the face.
- Premature skin aging, wrinkles and future development of skin cancer especially when skin lightening is not followed up with the use of the appropriate sunscreen.
You are planning to use this product on your face, the most visible part of your body, which also has some very delicate skin – shaving a few dollars here could be a very expensive mistake.
Other Things To Watch Out For
There are a lot of ‘home remedies’ you can find online. There is very little evidence that most of these work at all. Some may even cause damage to your skin. Lemon juice for example is a very popular example. Whilst lemon juice is a natural ingredient, it’s actually almost as acidic as battery acid – which is not something to be used on delicate facial skin.
Second, one should avoid direct sunlight like the plague the moment you start lightening your skin. For two reasons. Lighter skin is more sensitive to UV light so you need to protect it. UV exposure will also trigger your body to produce more melanin which will darken your skin – exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve!
Achieving a lighter and more even skin tone is possible. Just be aware of the risks mentioned here and don’t expect overnight results.