Skin Lightening Products

Skin lightening products.

Skin lightening is a taboo topic in Kenya as for the longest time the kenyan skincare market has been filled with counterfeit skin lightening products that have been made by the use of chemicals that have been banned in kenya e.g hydroquinone which is harmfull to the skin read about the effects of hydroquinone here.. this has led to the mistrust of all skin lightening products even though there are those that are genuine and do not use harmful chemicals and do not bleach  and there is a big difference between bleaching of the skin and skin lightening read about it here...

Skin lightening products — also known as whiteners, skin brighteners, or fade — work by reducing a pigment called melanin in the skin. Most people who use lighteners do so to treat skin problems such as freckles, age spots, acne scars, or discoloration related to hormones. It is also a technique used to lighten naturally dark skin.

What Determines Skin Color?

Skin color is determined by the amount of melanin in the skin. Melanin is a pigment produced by specialized cells called melanocytes. People with dark skin have more melanin.

How much melanin your skin has is mainly a matter of your genetic makeup. Sunlight exposure, hormones, skin damage, and exposure to certain chemicals can also affect melanin production.

Changes in skin color will often resolve themselves. For instance, tans fade when the amount of direct exposure to sunlight is reduced. But over time, certain discolorations, such as “age” spots or “liver” spots, become more or less permanent.

What Is Skin Bleaching?

Skin bleaching is a cosmetic treatment to reduce the prominence of skin discolorations and even out the color of the skin. You can buy bleaching creams over the counter and by prescription.

Some people apply skin lightener to their entire body to change their complexion, but this can be very risky. The active ingredient in some skin lighteners is mercury or hydroquinone, so bleaching can lead to mercury poisoning.

Mercury is a toxic agent that can cause serious psychiatric, neurological, and kidney problems. Pregnant women who use a skin lightener with mercury can pass the mercury to their unborn child.

The use of mercury as an ingredient in skin lighteners is banned in Kenya. However, some skin lighteners are illegal imported into kenya and they contain mercury and hydroquinone and sold to unsuspecting Kenyan women,its adviced always read the ingredients and if the skincare product does not have any ingredients written on it don’t buy it. .

How Do Skin Lightening products Work?

Skin lighteners contain an active ingredient or a combination of ingredients that reduces the amount of melanin in the skin where it is applied.Always ask whats the active ingredients in the skin lightening product you are about to buy.The most widely used ingredient in skin lighteners sold in Kenya is hydroquinone until we recently introduced a new line of products which is the Clear action that contains no hydroquinone and its active ingredient is vitamin c.

Other skin lightening products use drugs such as steroids and retinoic acid, which comes from vitamin A, as active ingredients. And some skin lighteners use natural ingredients such as kojic acid — a compound that comes from a fungus — and arbutin, a compound found in various plants.
It’s important to check with your doctor,dermatologist or certified skincare expert before using a skin lightening product.

Risks of  using the wrong skin lightening products

One of the most significant risks of using some skin lighteners is the potential exposure to mercury. One study found that nearly 1 out of every 4 skin lighteners made in Asia and sold in kenya contained mercury.

There are other potential risks of using the wrong kind of skin lightening products. Those risks can include the following:

  • Prolonged use can contribute to premature aging of skin.
  • Long-term use may increase the risk of skin cancer from sun exposure. Always use sunscreen when using a skin lightener and going out in the sun.
  • Steroids in some skin lighteners may increase risk for skin infections, skin thinning, acne, and poor wound healing.
  • Applying steroids to large areas of skin may put you at risk for health problems related to steroid being absorbed by the body.
  • Hydroquinone may cause unwanted and untreatable skin discoloration (ochronosis).
  • Various bleaching agents, including natural ingredients, can cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.

Special Precautions When Using a Skin Lightener

  • Talk to your doctor before using a skin lightener and ask for specific instructions for the product.
  • Make sure there is no mercury in the product. Mercury is sometimes listed under other names, such as calomel, mercuric, mercurous, or mercurio.
  • Make sure an over-the-counter skin lightener with hydroquinone has none of that chemical unless prescribed by a certified dermatologist and should not be used for a long duration of time.
  • If a label lists hydroquinone but doesn’t say how much it contains, don’t assume it’s safe to use. Some foreign products contain more hydroquinone than is allowed and some labels may not be accurate.Its been proven that even 2% of hydroquinone is not safe for black skin for asian its ok but not for african skin especially due to the hot african sun…read more here

If you have any questions about a product you are considering, talk with your doctor or pharmacist or dermatologist to be certain.

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