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Reality Check On Skin Lightening Products - Why Your Own Natural Skin Color is Beautiful?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Atul Taneja 93% (876 ratings)
MD (AIIMS), Clinical Fellow,Skin Oncology(New England Medical Centre & Boston University,USA), Clinical Fellow.Photomedicine(Mass.Gen.Hospital,Harvard Medical School,USA), Clinical Fellow,Laser Surgery(Mass.Gen Hospital,Harvard Medical School,USA)
Dermatologist, Kolkata  •  26 years experience
Reality Check On Skin Lightening Products - Why Your Own Natural Skin Color is Beautiful?

Skin lightening and brightening products have become extremely popular and are aggressively promoted by film stars, cricket players and fair-skinned models on TV, print and other media. These products promise you not only a lighter and flawless skin but also promote the fact that with this you will be able to get your perfect life-partner and your perfect chosen job! Many of these products do not disclose their exact composition, while some list many chemical names which are simply incomprehensible. However, some of these unregulated products could actually contain ingredients that are beneficial for your skin, but some could be quite harmful:

Therefore, you must keep a check on the following:

  • Many products may contain mercury as a skin lightening ingredient, which is a toxic metal which can lead to brain and kidney damage.

  • Steroids are commonly used in lightening creams and cause permanent thinning of the skin. These chemicals also increase the risk of skin infections, aggravate acne, cause stretch marks, precipitate bruising and make your skin more sensitive and red.

  • Hydroquinone is a prescription product and if used under proper supervision is useful for skin lightening. Unregulated use may cause skin irritation, cataract and unwanted discoloration.

  • Vitamin A derivatives can cause flakiness, irritation and increased sensitivity.

Your own photochromic " Skin Umbrella"

It is worthwhile understanding that nature has cleverly and correctly adapted your skin color on the darker side for geographic, genetic and evolutionary reasons. This pigmentation is actually beneficial since it acts as your very own personal 'skin umbrella' which protects you from sunburns, deep wrinkles and skin cancers. Just like photochromic glasses, your 'skin umbrella' turns darker with sun exposure. You call this a “tan”. Thus, medically speaking, black is beautiful. It doesn't make too much sense to try and alter your natural baseline skin color. Your baseline color is your natural skin color on your constantly covered area like on your lower waist.

In case of abnormal pigmentation do seek an opinion

Of course, for abnormal blemishes, acne, freckles and distinct weird pigmentation you should definitely discuss with your dermatologist regarding proper diagnosis and various treatment options like prescription medications, peels and lasers. Also discuss with your dermatologist about daily products suited specifically for you and your skin type. But you would be much wiser and much better off for not using any medicinal product without proper supervision.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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