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A WARNING About Skin Lightening Products  – Just Because They're “Natural” Doesn’t Mean They're SAFE.

Some chemicals are totally natural and are thought to be completely safe as an ingredient to lighten skin, but there can be a tipping point where the very ingredient one is using to lighten their skin in causing additional pigment to occur.  This can happen when the product contains aggressive skin lightening products. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has been widely touted as one of the best skin lightening agents on the market for the correction of hyperpigmentation, especially when it is related to age and sun exposure.  

While ascorbic acid may be safe for fading freckle and age spots on the face, it has been shown to cause irritation when used in the genital, axillary or intimate areas of the body.  This irritation to the skin can cause the melanocytes (skin pigment-making cells of the body) to secrete melanin (our skin pigment).  It’s termed post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and it results from too much chemical irritation to the epidermis.

Kojac acid is another great skin lightening ingredient when used in the right concentration and on the right type of skin. Concentrations of greater than 2.5% have been shown to cause facial dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis on other areas of the skin.  This type of dermatitis is extremely sensitive to sunlight and can lead to an unwanted darkening of the skin.

Gylcolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid which is often used in dermatology offices formulated as a chemical peel solution.  It is used to exfoliate the skin and trigger cell renewal and lead to healthier, happier skin.  But it can irritate the skin and lead to hyperpigmentation if applied to sensitive areas of the skin, including the eyelid areas, arm pits and genital skin. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxyl acid with similar mechanism of action to glycolic acid.  Salicylic acid has been used heavily in dermatology to treat acne and also hyperpigmentation.  As is true with other skin lightening ingredients discussed in this article, the concentration of salicylic acid can differ significantly of one product to the next. 

The higher the concentration the more likely it is to cause irritation to the skin and therefore a paradoxical darkening of the skin. So, it is absolutely paramount to choose a skin lightening cream that is appropriate for the area that is being treated.  Remember, just because its “ALL NATURAL” doesn’t necessarily make it safe, or effective.

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