Lightening skin is done for a variety of different reasons, some of which are controversial. For those who have a medical condition such as vitiligo (in which the body attacks its own melanin, leaving white patches), or who have freckles or age spots or blemishes that are caused by the presence of hormones, the process is seen as therapeutic.
But many people choose to lighten their skin simply because they feel that fairer skin is more attractive or that having dark skin is detrimental to their chances of success or happiness.
Can Lightening of Skin Cause Damage?
When you combine this idea with the fact that some skin lightening products can be damaging or risky to your health, the topic of lightening skin can become a source of controversy. Many skin lightening products have been found to be so dangerous to your overall health that they have been removed from the market in the United States.
Coloration in the skin is caused by melanin, a pigment that your skin produces. Sometimes the amount of melanin you have is determined by your genetic makeup or exposure to the sun, but other times there can be conditions that cause your skin to overproduce melanin in areas. When this happens many people use products designed to bleach the skin in those specific spots. These products are often sold over the counter.
Over The Counter Skin Lightening Products
The most popular ingredient in over-the-counter skin lightening products is called hydroquinone. Products containing a strength of two percent hydroquinone can be found in drug stores and beauty supply stores, but in order to purchase it in a stronger version with a strength of four percent, you must have a prescription from a physician. Other skin lightening products that can be obtained through a doctor include steroids or Retin-A. Unfortunately, many people have found that products that contain mercury are the most effective, and these products are so dangerous that the United States has banned their use, but many people still purchase them from overseas.
It is important to exercise caution when using a product to lighten your skin, as there are side effects and risks involved. Many products will dry your skin out or make you more prone to skin cancer. Others thin the skin or can be absorbed by your body and cause other health problems. If you are going to use a skin lightener for more than just specific areas that need attention or for an extended period of time, it is a good idea to consult with your physician.