Skin whitening: What you should know before using skin whitening creams
If you will never use a face cream that you know will have long-term adverse effects on your skin, then why use skin whitening creams? Skin lightening is a very controversial topic in India. While most intelligent and socially-aware people want them to be banned, a huge number of the populace still continues to use them. Studies that have been conducted have found that there are some active ingredients in most skin lightening products which have negative side effects in the long term. Even then, they continue to be endorsed by the popular icons of the day! If you are a user or thinking of using a fairness cream, it is important that you understand the realities involved.
The risk factors associated with most skin lightening products
There are many risk factors that recent studies have come up with and unless you study them with open eyes and ears, you are not going to realise why these products should be stayed away from. The truth is that a majority of these fairness products contain a chemical called hydroquinone. This is a chemical that has been continuously associated with the following:
- An increase in the risk of mercury poisoning and all the diseases associated with it
- An increase in the risk of skin cancer
- It has also been linked to ochronosis, which is a rare metabolic disorder which can lead to a negative change in the tissue and skin of the body
- Increase in the risk of hormonal problems
What did the USFDA do?
Putting into consideration the risks that have been associated with hydroquinone, the USFDA actually put forward a proposal to ban these fairness products once and for all. Still don’t see the harm in them? Well, perhaps the fact that fairness products containing the dangerous hydroquinone has been banned in countries like Japan, Australia and parts of Europe should hinder you from using them! Many other countries have gone for a partial ban by stopping the sale of such products without a doctor’s prescription.
What determines our skin colour?
The dermis and epidermis part of our skin naturally are yellowish in colour. The blood vessels that are present on the surface of the skin gives it a bluish tint. How whitish or dark a person is depends on the melanin content of the skin. Melanin is present in the basal layer of the skin. The higher the production of melanin in the skin, the darker it will be. The melanin performs vital functions including a protective role. It naturally protects your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. If you did not have melanin your skin, it would be extremely vulnerable to the rays of the sun and you would have had to protect it by always covering yourself up when you step out during the day. This is also the reason why in countries where more people have white skin, the occurrence of skin cancer is higher.
Safer products for lightening the complexion
If you have to use skin lightening products, here are the ingredients you should look for in place of mercury or hydroquinone.
- Licorice: This is an ingredient that prevents the darkening of the skin further due to harmful UV-B rays of the sun.
- Arbutin: This is also a safe ingredient and it does not have any odour or toxicity like hydroquinone.
- Vitamin A: This ingredient works wonderfully well for people who have skin conditions like skin infections, melasma, hyper pigmentation, etc.
Make sure you choose skin products with care.