What is a skin-lightening cream? Benefits and risks

Some chemicals used in these products are harsh and cause skin burning or rashes.

Some chemicals used in these products are harsh and cause skin burning or rashes.

What you need to know:

  • It is advisable to consult a doctor before use.
  • Examine potential side effects and follow all directions carefully when using these products.
  • It may be best for those skin lightening because of low esteem to consult a therapist instead of using the creams.

Skin lightening creams, also known as skin bleaching products, are designed to reduce melanin in the skin. Different skin-lightening products are available in the market today, including lotions, soaps, and even bath additives.

The benefits of using a skin-lightening cream include increased self-esteem due to increased satisfaction with one's appearance and decreased levels of stress or anxiety that feelings of inadequacy may cause.

However, there is evidence that long-term use of these products causes hyperpigmentation because they interfere with natural processes in the body.

Skin lightening cream

A skin lightening cream is a product often made with a skin lightening agent designed to reduce the amount of melanin on the skin. They are used to make the skin lighter or even bypass visible traits of darker skin, such as freckles. Melanocytes are cells that create melanin. Bleaching treatments reduce the number of melanocytes in your skin.


This cream can treat age spots, dark patches on the skin of the neck or face. It works by blocking tyrosinase an enzyme responsible for producing melanin in the body. This blockage slows down production of pigment and lightens existing skin pigment.

Other than hydroquinone, other creams have steroids and retinoic acid. Some skin lighteners also contain natural components.

Benefits of skin lightening

Scar removal is one of the main benefits. These products reduce the visibility of old and new scars by evening out your skin tone.

Skin lightening products help reduce the appearance of spots and blemishes on your face by making them lighter or completely removing them.

Skin whiteners are beneficial to people who have suffered from hyper-pigmentation due to sun damage or other reasons that often leave dark patches all over their skin. These people can have their skin lightened to match the rest of their skin tone.

Risks of using skin lightening creams

There are many adverse effects of this practice. One of them is that they often cause more harm than good if not used properly, leading to complications such as:

  • Skin damage: Some chemicals used in these products are harsh and cause skin burning or rashes. It may also thin your skin which makes it more susceptible to infections.
  • Hyper-pigmentation: Occurs when you develop an increased amount of melanin, leaving dark marks on the area you've applied. This is common for darker skin tones.
  • Some lightening creams contain mercury, a hazardous substance that has the potential to damage major organs.
  • It increases the risk of developing cancer over time if used regularly.
  • After prolonged use of the cream, the skin is likely to age prematurely.
  • Other side effects of using skin lightening creams include irritation, discoloration, and scarring.

Tips for cream use

  • Learn how exactly to use it and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not self-medicate or start using a product without consulting your doctor, especially if you have other medical conditions.
  • Check the content before applying. Mercury can cause serious health problems, so it is advisable to avoid using products containing mercury.
  • Avoid going outside for long periods when using a skin-lightening cream.
  • Apply sunscreen when going outside while using a skin-lightening cream to lower the risks of harmful UV rays.
  • Don't apply around the eye area or other sensitive areas of the skin.