When it comes to skin lightening our face has to be the ‘Number 1’ most popular area of the body. It’s also possibly one of the trickiest.
The skin on our face gets more sun than most parts of our body, along with our hands. Just because these are the most exposed areas – we don’t wear gloves most of the year, and we don’t wear masks very often! The skin on some areas of our face is also very delicate so needs to be treated gently.
So when you’re choosing a face whitening cream you want to be sure you are choosing a top quality product. For other areas of the body you can maybe go with a cheaper product, but for the face I wouldn’t recommend it. The risk is just too great.
If you’re more concerned about dark patches or other pigment type blemishes such as age spots, read this guide on lightening dark spots on the face. It’s more specific to that particular problem.
How Do They Work?
All face lightening products work in pretty much the same way. They are mostly designed to limit melanin production. This is the dark pigment that is responsible for our skin color. It’s also the same pigment that is responsible for our face darkening when it gets sunshine on it. Or in other words, what we call a ‘sun tan’!
If you limit the amount of melanin in your skin, then your skin becomes lighter. It really is that simple. Staying out of the sun therefore helps stop your face darkening. If you want a lighter, more porcelain look though and your skin is naturally darker than that – then that’s where face lightening cream comes in. The creams limit melanin production and over time allow your face to become lighter.
A lot of products, including some of the cheapest ones, include an ingredient called hydroquinone. If you’re happy with hydroquinone then by all means continue using it, but research has revealed some disturbing concerns over the safety of using it. The jury is still out, so products using it are still on sale in many places. Although the European Union has actually already banned the use of hydroquinone in beauty products, so that is something to consider. Personally, I don’t use any beauty products that include it.
It is now possible to avoid hydroquinone in lightening creams however. A lot of research has been happening in recent years to find replacements, and many different effective skin whitening ingredients have been discovered. Some of them will be very familiar although surprising such as Vitamin C and Vitamin B3 (niacinamide). Others you will may never have heard of such as kojic acid, arbutin, emblica — or AHA’s such as glycolic acid.
What To Avoid?
If you’re concerned about potentially nasty ingredients then avoid hydroquinone based products as I mentioned above. Also be careful to avoid anything with any form of mercury in it. Mercury is highly toxic and has no place in any product you put on your skin – it should be banned everywhere but probably isn’t.
I would also avoid the very cheapest of face creams, or products only available in dodgy low-end stores. You certainly don’t need to spend big money for the best products but whilst the cheapest may be cheap, in my experience they are a waste of money because they just don’t work! Plus there is that risk that they could include whitening ingredients that are not considered safe to use (they may not even be listed on the label).
Where To Buy?
I would either buy from a well regarded retailer who knows their stuff. Or buy online, preferably direct from the manufacturer. Be very careful of places like ebay as despite their best efforts, fake products do crop up from time to time.