Although there’s nothing wrong with a dark skin tone, some people feel the need to make their skin lighter. Unfortunately, many have ended up destroying their skin while trying to make it lighter because they use unconventional methods. In this article, you will find a step-by-step guide on how to get lighter skin.
What Is Skin Lightening?
Also referred to as skin whitening or skin bleaching, skin lightening is the process of lightening your dark skin using chemicals. This procedure is aimed at providing your skin with an even color by minimizing the melanin concentration. Many chemicals have shown to be quite effective in whitening dark skin, but some have been proved to be toxic and potentially dangerous to your skin and overall health.
Between 25 and 80 percent of women in Africa use skin bleaches to lighten their skin. Surprisingly, these products are being used by Asian women, especially in India and Pakistan.
Unfortunately, some of these products have been found to have toxic compounds like hydroquinone and mercury. In Asia, skin lightening practices date back to the 1500s.
In Europe, various common skin bleaching agents like kojic acid, alpha hydroxyl acid, among others are allowed to be added to cosmetic products, but many others are prohibited. In fact, some countries have completely banned the use of mercury in cosmetic products.
Although many people are born with even skin, they’ll develop blemishes over time due to UV damages, free radicals, pollution, skin diseases, and inflammation. In most cases, the main objective of skin lightening is to restore your natural skin.
What Causes Your Skin to Darken?
Everybody’s skin contains cells known as melanocytes, which produce melanin – a substance that gives your skin its natural tone. If your skin produces excess melanin, it is considered to be hyper-pigmented. And if the melanin is too little, it is referred to as hypo-pigmented. It’s important to note that some skin types don’t have melanin, a condition commonly referred to as depigmentation.
Your skin is likely to become pale if you have too little melanin or your melanocytes are underactive. Darker skin indicates the presence of too much melanin or overactive melanocytes. Skin discoloration occurs gradually, beginning at your elbows, knees, knuckles, and other joints and spreading to the rest of your body.
Sometimes the darkening problem may start at the soles of your feet and palms of your hands. The dark tone ranges from light dark to completely dark. The degree of darkness depends on the underlying causes. Here are the most common causes of skin darkening.
• Skin inflammation
• Certain medications, such as minocycline, chemotherapies, and birth control pills
• Hormonal complications like Addison disease
• Hemochromatosis (excess iron)
• Sun exposure
• Pregnancy (melasma or mask of pregnancy)
• Skin inflammation
• Fungal infections like tinea versicolor
• Pityriasis alba
• Certain medications
• Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis – a skin condition that affects sun-exposed parts of your body like the arms
How to Get Lighter Skin: 5 Ways
As mentioned above, different products can help you to lighten your skin, some of which are natural and others synthetic. While most of these products are highly effective in bleaching the skin, some are known to cause serious damages that can even result in death. So, you need to choose your skin bleaching products carefully. Here are some easy ways to make your skin lighter.
1. Lightening Your Skin with Honey
It may be surprising to learn that natural honey is an effective skin lightener. Since honey is made through a mixture of plant matter, bacteria, and enzyme activities, it becomes a potent skincare product. It helps to treat various skin conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, among others.
Studies have shown that natural honey balances bacteria on your skin, helping you to deal with acne effectively. It also reduces skin inflammation by boosting the healing of your skin cells. Additionally, honey exfoliates your skin naturally, making you glow.
To lighten your skin with honey, start with unpasteurized honey because it contains healthy bacteria that will reduce inflammation and redness while boosting your immune system.
You should mix honey with cinnamon and warm the paste slightly. Apply the paste on your body including your face using a face mask. Leave it on your skin for about 10 minutes and then wash it off with warm water.
2. Lightening Your Skin with Shea Butter
Shea butter is a potent skincare ingredient with important components that will lighten your skin. Many cosmetic products are using shea butter because of its proven ability to enhance the quality and texture of mature skin. It also treats skin soreness, inflammation, and acne.
Shea butter is rich in vitamin A, fatty acids, antioxidants, and other anti-inflammatory properties that are also known to lighten the skin. Don’t use refined shea butter for your skin lightening needs because it may lack some of the essential ingredients. Go for raw cold-pressed shea butter because it contains most of the necessary skin-lightening properties.
3. Lightening Skin with Lemon Juice
Since lemon juice is very rich in vitamin C, a highly active antioxidant, it can be very effective in lightening your skin. It also helps to deal with damages caused by acne-like dark spots, freckles, and hyper-pigmentation. Vitamin C reduces melanin in your skin, causing the tone to lighten. However, you need to remember that melanin is an important substance that protects you from harmful UV rays.
But if your skin produces excess melanin which leaves you with dark spots, vitamin C from the lemon juice can help you to get rid of the spots. You need to squeeze lemon juice from fresh lemons and mix the juice with milk. The lemon juice will cause the coagulation of the milk, allowing the lactic acid in the milk to exfoliate the skin and promote cell regrowth.
The milk also increases the retention of moisture in your skin, making it soft. When you are applying the solution onto your skin, use a soft sponge and massage it in a circular motion. Massage your skin with the mixture for approximately three minutes and then rinse your skin with warm water and pat it dry. You may have to apply a moisturizer to prevent your skin from drying out.
4. Lighten Your Skin with Coconut Oil
Coconut oil helps to reduce skin inflammations, infections, and free radicals. It is particularly beneficial to people with dry or normal skin because of its high concentration of vitamin F and lauric acid. To get the best results from coconut oil, go for the unrefined organic type.
You should also avoid liquid coconut oil because it’s formulated for cooking purposes. Simply rub a tablespoon of coconut oil onto your neck, face, and other dry parts of your body. Let the oil remain on your skin overnight and remove it with soap and water in the morning.
5. Lightening Your Skin with Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is an effective remedy for various skin conditions. It smoothens skin wounds and irritations, thus promoting faster healing. It has been used for centuries to clear scars caused by acne. When your body’s ability to respond to inflammations is improved, the risk of scars is eliminated.
Aloe vera also reduces hyperpigmentation caused by acne scars, thanks to one of its essential components referred to as aloesin. Choose a non-comedogenic and fragrance-free aloe vera extract and clean your face with soap and water before applying it. Wash it off with water after half an hour.
Cosmetic Lightening Products
There are many skin-lightening products on the market today, most of which are combinations of ingredients that reduce skin melanin. Here are some of the common skin-lightening ingredients used in cosmetic products.
1. Phytelephas Aequatorialis Seed Powder
This ingredient is usually found in cosmetics distributed by Brenntag Specialties. It has been approved by NATRUE & COSMOS. It’s both a skin whitening and smoothing agent. This powder is extracted from a magic seed known as Tagua of the native wild palm tree.
2. Ascorbyl Glucoside
This ingredient is used in cosmetic products distributed by DKSH. It is vitamin C that has been stabilized with glucose to become a skin whitening, anti-pollution, and protection agent, inhibiting pigmentation and premature aging.
3. Tetrapeptide-30 (and) Glycerin (and) Aqua
This skin-lightening agent is distributed by Evonik. It’s an anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and skin brightening agent that is free of preservatives.
Kaolin is a 100 percent natural skin lightening agent that is distributed by Imerys. It is largely used in toothpaste and other similar applications. Its high polishing action makes it good for whitening skin.
5. Tocotrienols (and) Tocopherol
This ingredient is a mixture of tocotrienols tocopherol liquid that is extracted from organic palm fruits. It is distributed by KLK OLEO and it’s a common ingredient of most cosmetic products designed to function as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory modules, and gene modulation agents.