Traditionally hydroquinone was used for dealing with hyperpigmentation. While hydroquinone has been shown to be a strong inhibitor of melanin production, there have recently been a number of concerns about it’s safety.
It is estimated that one-third of the population might be allergic to hydroquinone and with prolonged use it may cause skin to become “photosensitized” (Skin develops a sensitivity to sunlight and UV rays that can cause a rash). Research also indicates that hydroquinone may be toxic to our cells with potential cancer-causing, DNA-altering properties.
Tips to Lighten Your Skin Naturally
Fortunately there are a number of precautions you can take and a range of all natural products that can help you to lighten your skin naturally. Here are a few simple tips and ingredients to try.
1. Drink plenty of water - Water flushes toxins from the body and may help to brighten the appearance of your skin
2. Use a sunscreen – Sun exposure causes the skin to produce melanin (dark pigmentation) so make sure you use a good quality sunscreen with SPF 30 + when you go outdoors.
3. Lemon juice has long being used as a natural skin lightener for dark patches on the knees or elbows. Some people use it for freckles. While the combination of citric acid and Vitamin C can help to exfoliate and brighten the skin, lemon juice can be very drying for your skin so caution is advised. I would not recommend applying lemon juice on your skin by itself. It is better to mix lemon juice with something to dilute its high acidity , such as aloe, honey or even plain water.
4. Oranges and Lemons - Another suggestion I found for using citrus fruits is to grind dried orange peels and lemon curd together and spread the paste on dark skin to help lighten it naturally.
5. Many people use Papaya soap to lighten dark skin. Papaya contains the enzyme Papain which tends to make the skin whiter and even smoother. This only seems to work with prolonged use and remember to use a good moisturiser as the exfoliating result can make your skin dry.
6. Tumeric is a plant from the ginger family that can be applied to darker skin. Try mixing one teaspoon of turmeric powder with three tablespoons of lime juice to form a thick paste. Apply to the area to be lightened. Leave for 15 minutes and then wash off with water. Tumeric has been used as a skin lightener in India for many years as it inhibits the production of melanin. Mixing with lime juice, a natural bleacher, will make for an effective whitener. However, be aware that turmeric will stain your skin (and your clothes) yellow so try wearing gloves and don’t wear your best clothes to try this!
7. Almonds are also reported to have a bleaching effect. Almonds can be soaked overnight in warm water and then ground into a fine paste with milk before been applied to the skin. This almond mask can be left on at night and rinsed off with cold water in the morning.
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8. Licorice Extract - contains Glabridin which prevents hyperpigmentation by inhibiting tyrosinase. Tyrosinase is the enzyme responsible for the chemical production of melanin. Licorice extract is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties and it’s gentle non-toxic properties are ideal for natural skin brightening.
9. Bearberry Extract – is a natural and highly effective botanical ingredient that contains skin-brightening properties. It is a popular ingredient in many skin care preparations. Bearberry extract contains Arbutin, an organic compound that is used for skin lightening purposes for both long and short term use. It is often used to fade freckles or skin discoloration which may be caused by sun damage or hormonal conditions. Bearberry is also a natural antiseptic and a powerful antioxidant which can assist with healing and the prevention of skin damage.
10. Kojic Acid is derived from a fungus and has been used to inhibit melanin production in Asia for many years. You would not apply kojic acid directly to the skin as that could cause irritation. However, kojic acid is found in small amounts in many popular skin lighteners and has been shown to whiten and improve skin tone.
11. Use a Natural Skin Lightener – choose an all natural skin lightening cream like Meladerm that contains a specially formulated blend of many of these natural lighteners that have been shown to effectively inhibit the production of melanin.
Natural skin whitening creams have no hydroquinone, mercury, steroids or paraben (chemicals that can cause skin damage). Instead they contain natural lighteners like bearberry (arbutin), licorice extract, kojic acid, lemon and mulberry blended with nutrients that nourish and protect the skin.