Skin lightening treatment is in various forms which can be natural or artificial. There are a lot of side effects that may be evaded if you consult with your dermatologist. The cost varies according to the type of treatment.
Underneath the basic layers of the skin is a layer called “the basal layer”. The basal layer forms skin cells which separate to form the other layers of the skin. Melanocytes, which are cells responsible for transporting melanosomes (containing melanin for skin color), are found in the basal layer.
The enzyme, tyrosinase, which is responsible for the production of melanin is found in melanocytes and the overproduction of this enzyme causes hyperpigmentation. When this happens the parts of the skin affected may become darker than some parts and there may be a need for “skin lightening”.
WHAT IS SKIN LIGHTENING?
Skin lightening is a skin treatment aimed at brightening your skin by reducing the accumulation of melanin content in your skin, thereby evening out the tone of one’s skin.
When you are lightening your skin, the aim is to fade off every hyperpigmentation or dark blemishes, by reducing the production of melanin in the areas, and this gives you your skin’s true color.
Difference Between Skin Lightening & Skin Whitening/Bleaching.
Skin lightening also often referred to as ” skin brightening” is often misplaced with skin whitening or bleaching. To lighten or brighten the skin is to clear any blemishes, dark patches, or hyperpigmentation and toning the skin to get its true color. However, to whiten or bleach the skin is to achieve a skin color that is lighter than your original skin color.
REASONS FOR SKIN LIGHTENING
Skin lightening is done for the following reasons:
- To fade off freckles
- To treat sun damage
- To reduce melasma (dark patches)
- To clear dark spots from scars, acne, etc.
- To remove age spots
- To clear out moles
- To clean out hyperpigmentation, among others.
- To even out skin tone
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
Before undergoing skin tightening treatments, especially chemical or laser treatments, you should confirm that you are capable of handling them from your doctor.
You may not eligible for skin lightening if:
- You have a case of cold sores or fever that keeps recurring.
- You have a history of heart-related conditions.
- You have a high chance of developing scars.
- You are a diabetic patient; laser lightening is unadvisable.
SKIN LIGHTENING TREATMENTS
There are several treatments and procedures available for the lightening of the skin. Some of such include:
- Spa or Derma Care Methods
Visit a dermatologist or a spa expert for the following treatment.
- Dermabrasion: This uses a special instrument to scour out the upper layers of the skin. This procedure smoothens and brightens the skin, removing every skin irregularities, dark patches, and deep acne spots.
- Microdermabrasion: This procedure involves using an abrasive scouring surface, like that of sandpaper, to remove damaged and dead skin cells and smoothen out the skin, ridding it of any dark patch or spot.
- Chemical peels: In this procedure, peeling solutions like alpha hydroxy acid is applied to the skin to peel or exfoliate the hyperpigmented and dark patched skin.
- Laser Skin Lightening
This method of treatment involves using a laser to either remove the layer of the dark patches on the skin or kill the cells producing excess melanin.
It may or may not have an effect or the effect may be temporary. So before the main procedure, a test is performed on a small patch to see the reaction. If it is favorable after few weeks, the procedure will be done.
Recovery often takes 1 to 3 weeks. Your skin slowly fades into a lighter color.
Skin Lightening Products
These are creams, soaps, scrubs, etc, that contain ingredients or substances that aid skin lightening. They could be:
- Prescribed; which are products only recommended with instructions for use by your doctor. These products are often known to contain hydroquinone, mercury, corticosteroids, etc, which are substances that have severe side effects.
- Non-prescribed/Alternative; which are products that can be gotten over-the-counter. They are legally authorized as not harmful. However, if a product that can be bought over the counter has mercury, corticosteroid, and/or hydroquinone among its ingredients, or if its ingredients are not listed at all, abstain from buying.
Ingredients To Look Out For In A Skin-Lightening Product.
- Arbutin; an extract gotten from the bearberry plant. Effective in depigmentation, clearing sunburn, lightening and brightening of skin, and controlling the melanin-producing cells.
- Vitamin C; aids in skin repair
- Retinol; a natural form of vitamin A used to exfoliate, treat, and renew damaged skin.
The following are natural ingredients that can be used to lighten the skin:
- Kojic acid, which comes from fermented mushrooms.
- Bearberry extract
- Citrus extracts
- Azelaic acid; gotten from grains like barley, wheat, rye, etc.
- Lactic acid
- Glycolic acid
- Licorice root extract
- Mulberry extract
- Aloe vera
- Raw milk
Fruits For Skin Whitening Include:
Foods For Skin Lightening Include:
RISKS & SIDE EFFECTS
The side effects of skin lightening treatments may include the following:
- Skin infections
- Poor rate of wound healing
- Thinning of skin
- Skin irritation and reaction
- Acne breakout
- Premature skin aging
- Ochronosis (skin discoloration)
- Skin cancer
- Visible blood vessels on the skin
- Nephrotic syndrome
- Nerve and liver damage.
Before beginning a skin lightening treatment, make sure to discuss with your doctor and stick to the advice given.
Do not buy lightening products that have mercury in them. when buying, look out for names on the ingredient list like mercurous, mercuric, Mercurio, calomel, as they are all mercury.
Also, check for hydroquinone. Any percentage more than 2 is not acceptable. Avoid product if the percentage is not stated.
For the case of laser treatment and derma care, consult with your doctor who will recommend the right one for you.
SKIN LIGHTENING COST
The cost varies based on the type of treatment you are going for, where it did, who the surgeon is, etc.