The use of preparations to lighten skin tone is referred to as “voluntary depigmentation”.
1/ Firstly is important to differentiate between skin bleaching and skin lightening. The distinction between these two completely different treatments have been blurred, which has led to patients making uninformed decisions due to the vast amount of treatment options available – along with the incorrect information being supplied to patients.
Skin bleaching involves ‘depigmenting’ the skin by obliterating melanosome granules which are produced by melanocytes (cells which produce pigment), thus causing significant changes to the pigment concentration of the skin in a short period of time. This is dangerous as it predisposes the skin to harmful long-term damage caused by UV radiation from the sun. Steroids, hydroquinone and its derivatives, kojic acid, and mercury derivatives are the most commonly used active ingredients for skin bleaching. They are far from being harmless. Undesirable effects (hypercorticism) may be observed in subjects using dermocorticoids. Applying high-dosage preparations on large areas of skin can lead to an overall change in the state of health (skin atrophy, arterial hypertension, osteoporosis, diabetes, etc.) of the patient or of a family member ; children may become poisoned by proxy.
Skin lightening on the other hand is not permanent, its action is a gradual process and requires maintenance long term. The choice of a skin lightening product is not a trivial matter either ; due to demand for such treatments there has been a surge in the market of products, which at worst cause potentially cause irritating effects and at best do not produce the desired results.
2/ Therefore as a general rule it is not recommended to purchase such products via the Internet, or without professional medical advice. The first essential step to take is to consult a reputable dermatologist or medical skin professional for his/her opinion : expert medical advice is indispensable for a proper diagnostic of your specific pigmentation problem and therefore for a specifically tailored treatment prescription to address your specific pigmentation. Moreover, with the help of the patient, the dermatologist can establish the background which led to hyperpigmentation, and as a result will properly diagnose the origins of the skin pigmentation. This will enable the skin care professional to potentially rule out any other more serious and underlying medical issues, such as skin melanoma for example.
3/ It is imperative to ensure that the skin lightening products applied to your skin have been clinically tested and their effectiveness and safety is proven ; that the cream does not contain any controversial and/or harmful ingredients, such as hydroquinone, steroids and/or kojic acid, which are still sometimes found in pigmentation treatment creams, but which in recent years have come under fire from US and EU scientific committees on consumer safety, due to their toxic or irritating potential.
4/ Next, one should privilege formulations containing only the essential ingredients. “Less is more” Why ? Because the more ingredients contained in a skin care cream, the higher the odds of developing allergic reactions, which obviously no one wants.
According to the latest clinical research an efficient skin depigmenting lightening cream should contain the following five types of ingredients :
. Exfoliating agents (Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid…) which remove the melanin filled skin cells,
. Antioxidants (such as vitamin C) whose function is to counteract the skin’s oxidation process, in which free radicals play a significant role,
. Anti-inflammatory compounds ; we must after all bear in mind that hyperpigmentation problems are the final stage of skin inflammation,
. Down regulators or inhibitors of melanogenesis : which slow down the production of the melanin pigment,
. Hydrating agents ; which repairs the skin barrier function and combats the drying effect of the depigmenting ingredients in the cream.
As a rule of thumb, fragrance-free skin treatment creams should be privileged as perfume is also a major cause of unwanted skin irritations.
5/ An effective lightening cream must go hand in hand with the application of a sun protection factor minimum SPF 15. While the depigmenting cream is applied in the evening and works during the night, a sun protection factor must imperatively be used during the day, to protect and prevent over stimulation of the melanocytes from UV radiation. As the depigmenting cream – which contains Alpha Hydroxy acids to help exfoliate and remove the build- up of pigment filled skin cells, the skin’s natural protection is also temporarily reduced, hence the necessity to diligently use a sunscreen during the day when the skin is treated with a depigmenting complex.
6/ The most serious risk associated with a skin lightening creams has to do with misuse, which can actually cause the opposite of the desired effect and result in the skin becoming darker, this occurs when the wrong product is used in the wrong way. Such side effects are hard to reverse, so it’s very important to follow your doctor’s instructions and using only products with safe ingredients that have been prescribed for you. The best guarantee is to seek treatment from reputable clinics and practitioners to ensure you receive superior products and the best possible results without adverse effects. If you or someone you know has encountered difficulties while being treated for hyperpigmentation, feel free to contact us about our safe and clinically proven Uniq-White System and do not hesitate to share with us your views and experience by posting a comment !