Skin-lightening products: What you need to know

Many people all over the world, are turning to bleaching creams and products in hopes of lightening dark spots or to change their skin colour overall.

This trend has proven to be dangerous, with the effects of some lightening and bleaching products ranging from skin damage to serious infections and in some cases, even death.  Here’s more on the dangers of using skin-lightening products.

Harmful ingredients

Skin lighting products can contain harmful ingredients. When buying any product for your face or body, look out for the following ingredients before applying any product to your skin:

Mercury: Many dark spot remover creams contain mercury. Mercury is a toxic substance that can damage the kidneys and cause skin discoloration, scarring and skin rashes. It can also reduce your body’s ability to fight fungus and bacteria.

Mercury can also lead to mercury toxicity. Symptoms of mercury toxicity include irritability, headaches, difficulty concentrating, tingling in the hands, feet or around the lips and weight loss.

Steroids: Topical steroids (steroids which are applied to the skin) can have many nasty side effects such as fungal infections and skin thinning. If used for a long time, they can cause serious internal disease, rosacea (redness and bumps on the skin) and folliculitis (infected hair follicles).

Hydroquinone: This is a common ingredient in most skin lightening creams which people apply to dark spots. Hydroquinone prevents the creation of the skin pigment, so while it may appear to work well in the beginning, it can have severe side effects if used for a long period of time.

This ingredient has been banned in many countries because it can permanently discolour the skin.

Parabens: Parabens have been found to increase the risk of cancer cells. They can also interfere with your body’s endocrine system (all the glands in your body that make hormones), as well as your reproductive system.

Mineral Oil: Mineral oils can clog your skin’s pores which need to be clear to be able to flush out toxins. As you can imagine Choma, this can lead to acne and pimples.

Phthalates: Phthalates are also found in some lightening creams. These can lead to health complications such as endometriosis (which is a condition that occurs when tissue similar to the inside lining of the uterus is found outside of its normal location), obesity and respiratory problems.

Long-term effects

Why should you avoid these ingredients? Well, Choma, on top of the risks I’ve already told you about, you should be aware that these products can lead to effects which are very difficult to reverse such as:

Ocronosis If you use skin bleaching creams for a long period of time, they can make your skin very dark, eventually leading to a skin condition called ocronosis. That’s right Choma, some lightening creams can end up making your skin even darker than it was before.

Stretch Marks- Skin bleaching stretches and thins the skin, which can produce stretch marks.

Remember to never use unmarked products on your skin- even if they are given to you by friends or family. If a product doesn’t have an ingredient list, don’t use it!

A healthy body is a beautiful body Choma, so my advice to you is that skin lightening and bleaching products aren’t worth risking your health for. Even if these creams work without causing serious damage, the effect usually looks very unnatural and can make your skin look unhealthy. If you have a darker skin tone, why not read my skincare tips for darker skinned girls?

No particular skin tone is more beautiful than another and beauty starts with confidence and happiness first. Remember to embrace the skin you’re in Choma.

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).