The Dangers of Skin Whitening

Following the recent ban of hydroquinone in many countries, there has been a wide debate regarding the safety of skin whitening products and their respective ingredients.
So, what’s safe and what’s not in the world of skin whitening?
The following are the findings from a report conducted on behalf of SW+SS Skin Whitening by Dr Jonathan Lindenberg, skincare adviser.

-Hydroquinone. Although Hydroquinone is a very strong inhibitor of melanin production, it has been banned from various countries due to the link found with cancer. It is considered to be an irritant above 4% concentration and can be an unstable ingredient in formulations of cosmetic products.

-Mercury. Highly Toxic. Both an acute and chronic poison. Its carcinogenicity has been well documented.

-Arbutin. It contains the chemical glucosylated hydroquinone. It can be extracted from various types of berries and pears. No studies have been made regarding its toxicity, but there are fears that it can have the same links with cancer found in Hydroquinone.

-Tretinoin. It is a derivative of Vitamin A. It has various uses in dermatology, including skin whitening. It can cause thinning and dryness of the skin. Sensitive skin types can also experience redness, scaling, itching and burning.

-Kojic acid. A byproduct of the fermentation process for making the Japanese alcoholic drink sake. Recent studies in mice have shown that there is evidence on the carcinogenicity of kojic acid, but its yet unproven if the same applies on humans.

-Azelaic acid. Originally used to skin acne, has been found to have skin whitening properties. It can be a skin and eye irritant, but it’s believed that there is no risk to health associated with this ingredient.

-Vitamin C. Various formulations, like L Glutathione, have been found to have positive effects in reducing melanin production in concentrations higher than 5%. Studies have shown that it’s one of the safest whitening products in the market.

-Alpha Hydroxic Acids, like lactic acid and glycolic acid are safe to use under 10% concentration. Concentrations higher than 10% are only to be used by dermatologists and trained cosmetologists.

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