Everyone is trying to attain milky porcelain Skin but fail immediately as the “whitening” products fail to live up to their expectations. There are safer and simpler ways to achieve the perfect skin without having to break your wallet. Here is some vital information you need to know about skin lightening.
What Is Skin Lightening?
Skin lightening is a method of whitening/lightening the skin for personal, health or cosmetic reasons. The skin is lightened by using creams, cosmetic treatments or natural ingredients to achieve a whiter and brighter complexion. Skin lightening is usually done to remove acne scars, freckles, age spots, and dark pigmentation or discoloration.
Treatments To Get Lighter Skin Tone
All the treatments suggested below are topical treatments.
- Laser Toning Treatment – This treatment uses ablative and non-ablative lasers to encourage collagen production and reduce dark pigmentation. There are several lasers that can be used for skin lightening – fractional Q Switched YAG laser and TRIBEAM laser toning are some of the best ones. The cost for laser toning skin lightening for the entire body ranges around Rs. 2 lakhs. There is great success rate and lower chances of side effects with this method.
- Bleaching – Skin bleaching is a process of reducing a dark pigment in the skin called melanin. By applying skin bleachers, the melanin production is disrupted making the skin lighter and more uniform in color. Bleaching must be done regularly to maintain the skin’s fairness. You can bleach your skin every 15 days and if you have sensitive skin, its best to bleach once in four weeks. Skin bleachers are easily available at most beauty stores.
- Azelaic Acid – It is found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. This is used in a cream based formulation for skin discoloration and blemishes. Azelaic acid inhibits the DNA synthesis and energy production of hyperactive pigmentation, which reduces the appearance of melanin over time. It can take up to two months to see any results. It is very easily available in the market, although it does come with certain side effects such as itchy skin, dryness, redness, and peeling.
- Kojic Acid – It is derived from the fermentation process of malting rice. It is very effective in inhibiting melanin production and reducing dark skin color. Although it is a Japanese product, it is easily available in India, and it comes in the form of creams and soaps. It can take three months to see desired results. The kojic acid works by preventing tyrosinase protein’s ability to produce melanin. This hinders the darkening of skin and thus gives you lighter and brighter complexion. It can come with certain side effects – it can cause itching and painful rashes.
- Retinoids – This is derived from vitamin A and is available as a gel, lotion, and cream. It reduces dark pigmentation and helps in bleaching the skin by using its depigmenting properties of stopping enzymes that cause pigmentation. It also accelerates the skin’s turnover to help pigmented skin to shed faster than the normal rate. It does come with few side effects like burning, scaling, itching, etc. Retinoids do work faster than other skin lighteners do as it takes about 6-8 weeks to see any results. It is an over the counter product that is easily available.
- Topical Steroids – There are steroids that are used topically to reduce melanin production and dark patchy skin. They slow down skin cell turnover, thereby reducing the production of pigmented cells. They also reduce the production of melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH), giving you fairer complexion in just 1-3 months (depending on steroid strength). It is very important to note down that a dermatologist’s consultation is very important while using topical steroids.
- Glycolic Acid – It is a chemical acid that is extracted from sugar cane and has shown positive results in skin lightening. The peel reacts with the top layer of skin, breaking down the skin cells and dissolving sebum. The dead skin cells are buffed and sloughed off to reveal the underneath skin which is younger and fairer. Glycolic acid can cause mild irritation and redness. It is not easily available in pharmacy or beauty stores and is best applied on the skin by a certified skin specialist.
- Arbutin – It is derived from berries and other plant extracts to lighten skin and remove unwanted pigmentation. It is highly effective and safe as it carefully stops enzymes that stimulate melanin production. It can take anywhere between 3-6 months to see any positive results. One major side effect of Arbutin is that it can cause mild form of acne; otherwise, it is fairly safe to use. Arbutin is easily available in various over the counter products and beauty products.
- Vitamin C – It comes in various forms and can be derived from natural substances. Vitamin C is the most effective method of skin lightening. It contains potent antioxidants that stabilize free radicals that damage skin and cause skin darkening. It regenerates healthier and lighter skin cells. It can take up to two months for this treatment to work. However, it can cause yellowish skin when used in excessive quantities.
- Glutathione – It is a tripeptide molecule, a very strong antioxidant that stops melanin production and lightens the complexion. It detoxifies skin cells removing dark pigmentation and reducing melanin to reveal a brighter complexion. It takes only one month to show results. Although it does not have any side effects, it cannot be used by asthmatic patients. This treatment is easily available at most drugstores.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids – These are mainly used as peels that help skin exfoliation and remove skin discoloration. It can take a few sessions to see drastic skin lightening. AHA peels work by exfoliating and removing the upper layer of skin with their active ingredients lightening any discoloration and dark pigments. It can cause redness, scarring, liver and kidney damage, and infection if not done properly. AHA peels are available at most cosmetic and dermatologists clinic.
- Niacinamide – It is a safer method of skin lightening and can be used on sensitive body parts (e.g. genitals and anal bleaching). Niacinamide works by inhibiting melanosome transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes and therefore reducing dark skin pigments. It is easily available at all local drugstores and it comes in both pill and cream form. It does not come with any side effects, although it cannot be used by patients with liver and ulcer problems.
- Tranexamic Acid – It can be used as a topical skin lightening agent, taken orally, through injection as well adjunct to laser therapy. It has shown positive results in just four weeks.
- Masks – Several beauty companies specialize in skin lightening masks. Purchasing skin lightening masks with ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acid (found in papaya juice, grapefruit juice), lactic acid (milk based products), and kojic acid will definitely help you achieve dewy, creamy skin. You can make easy homemade masks to achieve lighter skin as well. There are several natural ingredients that can lighten the skin tone – lemon juice, milk, potato juice, rice flour, honey, etc. However, it is important to know that DIY masks do not give permanent results. For everlasting fairness, it is better to use cosmetic peel treatments such as Glycolic Peel, Salicylic Peel, and ArgiPeel.
- Scrubs – Scrubs are an excellent method of removing dead skin cells. Scrubs must be massaged over the skin, while the exfoliating granules slough off dead skin cells and this rubbing technique boosts blood circulation and increase healthy blood flow to the skin’s surface; thus giving you healthy, vibrant, and fair skin. Using a simple homemade salt or sugar scrub is going to give you decent results but it’s not enough if you want long lasting fairness. Some of the best scrubs must include extracts such as papaya, liquorice, kojic acid, strawberry, apricot, and aloe vera gel. Scrubs can be used twice a week.
- Massage – A simple daily massage using your fingertips will improve blood circulation and distribute collagen evenly across your body and face. Massages can be done using creams/oils that contain lightening ingredients such as liquorice, kojic acid, retinoids, etc.
- Cryosurgery – The targeted skin is exposed to liquid nitrogen, which destroys darker skin and is replaced with healthier and lighter skin. This is often used for irregular skin darkening and removal of dark pigmentation. This skin lightening treatment is beneficial for clients who have very dark skin with stubborn pigmentation. It is ideal to use this treatment when everything else fails; cryosurgery is mainly used as a last resort. It has a success rate of 85-90%.
Some advantages include –
- Minimal scarring
- Low cost
- Minimum pain during procedure
Disadvantages are as follows –
- There is a chance of nerve damage
- Blistering can occur post treatment
Can Food Help In Skin Whitening?
Consuming certain food items will help you on your journey to achieve fairer complexion. But, then again, there are certain food items that can hinder your progress and make your skin dull and dark. We have compiled a list of foods to eat and foods to avoid for skin lightening.
Foods To Eat
After conducting many types of research, dermatologists and dieticians have concluded that foods that are hydrating, rich in vitamin C, omega-3 enriched, and gut healing substances are beneficial for skin lightening.
- Yogurt – Completely packed with good bacteria that are important for gut health. Yogurt contains lactic acid, which lightens and brightens the complexion drastically. You can eat a bowl for breakfast and apply as a face mask as well.
- Soya Bean – Soya is rich in isoflavone, antioxidants, and phytoestrogen that fights aging and provides a luminous glow to the skin.
- Fish & Fish Oil – Rich in omega-3, fish helps provide essential fatty acids (EFA) that is necessary for collagen production. You can replace fish/fish oil with walnuts, chia, and flaxseed if you are vegetarian.
- Nuts – Again nuts are healthy fats and are loaded with EFAs. They also provide vitamins and mineral such as vitamin E, selenium, and iron. All such nutrients help your skin to radiate and glow from within.
- Honey – It is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and deliciously moisturizing, all the things the skin needs to become fairer and healthier. Honey can also be used topically to lighten the skin.
- Green Tea – Green tea is the best antioxidant and drinking 2-3 cups of green tea will help lower peroxides, which can lead to skin roughness and dryness.
- Vitamin C – The ultimate saviour for skin lightening. Vitamin C is one of the strongest natural skin bleachers. Fruits and vegetables such as lemon juice, tomatoes, kiwis, oranges, gooseberry, guava, etc. all are great sources of vitamin C. Intake and external application will help you achieve the fair, glowing skin you desire.
- Water – The best hydrator! Water is fantastic for detoxifying, hydrating, and moisturizing the skin. When the skin is dehydrated, it becomes flaky and dry. Drinking 2-3 litres of water on a daily basis will help your skin to become whiter.
- Dark Chocolate – It is a natural sunscreen that protects your skin from the inside. Eating dark chocolate will shield your skin from UV rays and help with skin lightening.
- Potato – Potatoes contain bleaching properties that are very useful in removing scars, freckles, and blemishes. They are high in vitamin C, B6, and potassium, all very important in your journey to achieve flawless fair skin.
Foods To Avoid
Foods containing processed sugar, high in trans and saturated fat, caffeine, etc. are all dubbed as harmful food. They lack fibre, moisture, and nutrients that are necessary for healthy fair skin. Over time, they make your skin dull, dry, and even cause acne!
- Sodas, Caffeine, Sugary And Carbonated Beverages – Drinks are essential for hydration, energy, and detoxifying. But, drinking the wrong liquid will be more harmful than helpful. Intake of drinks those are high in sugar such as canned/pouch/tetra packs of fruits juices, colas, sodas, fizzy drinks, and energy drinks are very dangerous and contain a large quantity of preservatives, artificial colors, and sugar. Even drinks such as black tea and coffee are dehydrating and fluctuate hormones that cause havoc on health and skin.
- Deep Fried Foods – Foods such as samosa, spring rolls, pakodas, fried chicken, etc. are pore clogging, produce excess sebum, and cause hormonal imbalance. Consuming trans-fat and saturated fat will clog your arteries and restrict the flow of oxygen, prohibiting nutrients from reaching your skin and making your complexion dark and dull.
- Ready To Eat/ Instant Foods (Salty Food) – Foods that need little preparation or they are ready for consumption like instant noodles (Maggie), savoury biscuits, chips, tortillas, Indian snacks, etc. all contain salt in a high quantity, which is unnecessary and harmful for your skin and health. Salty foods lead to high blood pressure (red, puffy face), dehydrate the skin (dry, wrinkly face), and cause breakouts (acne and scars).
General Tips For Skin Lightening
Here are some extra tips you can incorporate into your daily life to ensure your skin remains bright, fair, and fresh.
- Drinking Enough Water – You have heard this before, and you will hear it again. Water is your saviour especially if you want fair and glowing skin. It hydrates and flushes out unwanted toxins and moisturizes your skin from within.
- Get Enough Sleep – Getting 7-8 hours of undisturbed sleep will help you detoxify your liver and kidneys as well as de-stress your body. Try drinking chamomile tea and listen to soothing music to ensure you get a restful night of unbroken sleep.
- Apply Sunscreen – Sunscreen is the shield that will save your lovely fair skin from tanning, wrinkling, and aging. Use a non-comedogenic sunscreen that has UVA and UVB protection.
- Exfoliate Your Skin – Removing build-up of dead skin cells by exfoliating twice a week will definitely help will achieving lighter skin and improving the overall health and complexion of your skin.
- Eat More Fruits And Vegetables – Consuming a plethora of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis will provide the necessary nutrition, hydration, and fibre your skin needs. Try to cover half your plate with fruits and vegetables for every meal.
- Say No To Chemicals – Using harsh bleaches and chemicals might give an instant result but will damage the skin’s health in the long run.
- Rose Water – Sweet floral water like rose water is hydrating and nourishing for dull skin. You can spray rose water on your face and body for instant hydration and a dewy effect.
- Vitamin A, C, And E – Applying skin care products that contain these vitamins are useful for skin lightening. This trio of vitamins is known as skin lightening vitamins. Even intake of foods rich in vitamins A, C, and E are beneficial in attaining snow-white complexion.
After many years of research, dermatologists have found many ways that are safe and swift in their results to achieve the ‘peaches and cream’ complexion. If you are considering skin lightening, then go ahead and do what makes you confident and happy.
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