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Skin Lightening Products

Recently, new products that will even out skin color for a more attractive look have become available. These new treatments diminish dark spots and blotches caused by aging and freckling. They can be purchased over the counter in the cosmetic section of your local store or through beauty product websites.

Dark spots are caused by long term exposure to the sun or by hormones. Skin cells that have been affected no longer produce even amounts of pigment, resulting in a spotted or patchy appearance. Lightening products suppress the enzyme that creates pigment, and while these products are not as effective as prescription lightening creams, chemical peels, or laser resurfacing, they are less expensive and do not require a trip to the doctor.

If you are thinking of buying a skin lighting product, consider the following:

  • Products that contain hydroquinone, the active ingredient in many prescription lighteners, are the most effective. Over the counter lighteners have lower concentrations of hydroquinone. They will, however, make skin more sensitive to sunlight and can irritate some skins. These products should not be used in the summer and never for more than 60 days at a time.
  • Other lighteners are made from natural ingredients such as azelaic acid; mulberry, bearberry, or licorice extracts; or recently developed plant compounds that supposedly suppress pigment production. These products can also contain other products that help by exfoliating the skin.
  • Darker skinned women have more pigment, and so can frequently have more problems with spots and blotches. They should be careful not to overuse lighteners, as this can cause permanent skin damage.
  • Lighteners will not work for woman who are pregnant or who are taking birth control pills or hormone replacements. In fact these products can make the problem worse if it is hormones that are causing pigment to darken.

Always read and follow directions and discontinue the use of any skin lightener that causes redness, inflammation, or itching.

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