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How Safe is Skin Whitening?

More and more people are dreaming of having a flawless fair skin especially in the more tropical countries in Asia. Whitening products from creams, lotions, soaps, skin bleach to pills (and even injections) abounding in many stores from the biggest supermarket down to the friendly neighborhood mini store are proof enough of this. Beauty spas are sprouting everywhere offering cosmetic treatments and services to lighten skin.

For the want of having whiter skin, many people are trying on any product that they can lay their hands on. The problem is, most people don’t really know if these products do truly have a whitening effect and if it does not give any side effect that could possibly harm the body.

In light of this realization, it is just right that we try to have a better knowledge of whether skin whitening products are completely safe and if it does not pose any threat to our well-being.

How does whitening happen?

People with darker complexion produce more melanin compared to people of lighter shade. To lighten the skin, the melanin production in the epidermis needs to be suppressed. Most whitening products contain ingredients that shuts down or limits tyrosinase - a catalyst enzyme needed for the production of melanin. Shutting down tyrosinase, blocks melanin production which in turn results to lightening of the skin.

Are skin whitening ingredients safe?

To be on the safe side, it is always the best idea to get the opinion of a professional dermatologist prior to applying any whitening product on your skin. In addition, you can always check the ingredients to make sure that it does not contain anything prohibited by the FDA. Yes, there are ingredients banned as it has shown to result various skin ailments and even serious ones like skin cancer and disfiguration. Here are other possible negative effects of skin whiteners:

  • May cause allergic reactions and skin irritation

  • May cause undesirable and incurable skin discoloration

  • Long usage may cause premature skin aging

  • Skin infections, acne and skin thinning

  • Can cause skin cancer from prolonged usage and exposure to the sun

What ingredients should you stay away from?


This ingredient is banned in Europe, Australia and Japan. Although it is approved by the FDA (in USA, but mostly with prescription), still whitening products should not contain more than 2% hydroquinone in the solution. Hydroquinone has known side effects including skin cancer and skin irritations. It has been also found out that too much of this ingredient can even darken the skin.


This ingredient has been found out to cause acne, skin thinning, skin infections and longer healing time for wounds. Some prescription steroids are so potent that it can wreak havoc in the body’s immune system.


Mercury is found in many whitening products because it is very cheap, but this is the worst ingredient that you should avoid at all cost. Mercury is poison to the skin which can cause disfiguration, speech problems, kidney malfunction and even destroy your immune system.

What ingredients are safe for whitening the skin?

  • Retinoids – a Vitamin A derivative

  • Hydroxyl Acids – derived from sugars, a natural acid (citric acid from fruits, malic acid from apples, glycolic acid from sugar cane, lactic acid from milk, tartaric acid from grapes and mandela acids from bitter almonds)

  • Azaelic Acid – a natural acid derived from metabolism of a specific yeast (Pityrosporum Ovale)

In conclusion, whitening your skin is a personal choice. However, make sure that the products you use are safe and you can never go wrong if you consult your doctor first. Don’t fall for gimmicks or market hypes that promise to give you fair skin without giving the product more than a once go over. For safe and effective whitening products and treatments, check out Loveli Skin Beauty Centre now and book for an appointment.

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