Skin Whitening : An Unnecessary Initiative


Skin whitening is also known as skin lightening or skin bleaching. It refers to the practice of using products containing chemical substances in an attempt to lighten skin color by reducing melanin concentration in the skin. This includes bleaching creams, soaps, pills as well as a professional treatment like laser therapy and chemical peels. From a medical view, there is no need to lighten the skin, but if you want to do it; it’s important to understand how it works and how it affects your skin.
Common skin lightening ingredient
• Kojc acid
• Arbutin
• Vitamin C
• Retinol

How skin lightening works?


The aim of skin lightening products is not to bleach your skin but to fade the unwanted blemishes by inhibiting melanin which lightens your skin color. It reduces the concentration of or production of melanin in the skin. Melanin is the pigment produced by melanocytes which are found in the basal layer. The enzyme called tyrosinase is located in melanocyte is responsible for producing melanin; many skin lightening products inhibit tyrosinase, essentially stopping from producing more melanin. Which effectively lightens your skin color.


What are the Benefits of Skin Lightening?

• Minimize the dark spots
• Minimize discoloration such as age spots, sunspots, freckles, melisma, post inflammatory marks from eczema and psoriasis
• Reduces the appearance of acne scars
• Evens out skin tone

Side effects of Skin Bleaching


Several countries have chosen to ban skin whitening products because of the dangers that associate with them. In 2006, FDA also issued a notice to counter skin whitening or skin bleaching products and deemed them unsafe.




1. Dermatitis

Some chemicals present in the skin bleaching products cause dermatitis. It is an


inflammation of the skin caused by contact with certain.

Symptoms include

• Blisters
• Skin redness
• Skin ulcer
• Hives
• Dry skin
• Itching
• Swelling
• Burning and tenderness

2. Mercury poisoning

Some of the skin bleaching products contain mercury. The United States has banned using mercury in skin lightening products, but outside America, several countries still use mercury as one of the most essential skin bleaching ingredients.

Symptoms include:

• High blood pressure
• Numbness
• Fatigue
• Sensitivity to light
• Neurological symptoms such as tremor and irritability.
• Kidney failure

3. Exogenous ochronosis

It is a skin disorder that causes blue-black pigmentation. Long term use of skin bleaching can cause this disorder.

4. Steroid acne

Skin whitening creams that contain corticosteroids can cause steroid acne. It mostly affects the chest but can also affect back, arms, and other parts of the body.

Symptoms include:

• Acne scars
• Small red bumps
• White heads and black heads
• Large painful red lumps

5. Nephrotic symptom

It is a kidney disorder. It causes your body to excrete too much protein through urine. The skin bleaching creams containing mercury can cause this disorder.

Symptoms include:

• Fatigue
• Swollen feet and ankles
• Foamy urine
• Loss of appetite
• Swelling of eyes

Media Effects

Media Effects
Media Effects

The way media promotes skin bleaching, or whitening products gives the impression that the fair complexion is a definition of looking beautiful. It provides us an image that the fair complexion is superior to the dark complexion, and you are only beautiful when you have a fair skin tone. This leads many young audiences to think that they lack society’s beauty measure, which leads to use them these products when it is not even necessary. The articles and advertisements are just urging people, especially women, to improve their skin tone and texture by use of chemicals. And it does not mention any side effects on the skin which fools the audience to think that they are safer to use.



1. Check the cream for any side effects. First, apply it in a small amount on the part of the skin and observe it for 24 hours and do not use it if it causes inflammation or irritation.

2. Cleanse your face before applying any skin bleaching products.

3. Avoid applying the cream on skin areas that are unaffected by blemishes or dark spots.

4. Avoid going out in sunlight after applying any skin lightening cream.

5. Do not use bleach on the areas where you already have had acne treatment or another treatment.

6. If you experience any skin irritation or burning sensation or rash stop using the product immediately and consult your pharmacist


A person needs to embrace his own identity and even from a medical view, it is considered unnecessary to lighten your skin color. But if you still feel a need to use skin whitening products, do it after consulting your dermatologist or medical expert. Do not follow articles and advertisements about skin whitening or lightening products blindly; they might mislead you.


1. What is skin bleaching or skin whitening?

It refers to an attempt to lighten the skin color by using products containing chemical substances that may or may not have side effects on your skin.

2. Are skin whitening products harmful?

It depends on the chemicals present in the product and sometimes also on the skin type you have; hence, before using any skin whitening products also consult your dermatologist.


Vivian Munson

Vivian is leading the genetics column. She is a biotechnology student and as well as a passionate writer. She chooses her words very carefully, focusing upon the theme of the article while writing so that they don’t sound boring or too creative. Her articles always bear the information that she wants.

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