Skin whitening treatments that actually work
Skin whitening treatments have never been so popular
Indians and their obsession with fairness are inseparable. Open the newspapers and peruse the matrimonial ads to get a sense of the premium attached to ‘fair girls’. According to market researchers ACNielsen the whitening cream market in India in 2010 was worth Rs. 2,600 crore. Last year Indians used 233 tonnes of skin-whitening products. “Not surprisingly, the market is flooded with skin whitening creams and treatments that promise to lighten your skin colour and tackle stubborn pigmentation issues,” says Mumbai based cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Jaishree Sharad, Nykaa skin care expert and Medical Director of Skinfiniti Skin and Laser Clinics. She says, given the Indian proclivity for fairness, there are a number of lightening treatments available to help you get the glow you crave.
Skin lightening creams
Dr. Sharad says typically skin lightening creams contain an active ingredient or combination of ingredients that reduce the amount of melanin in the skin when applied on the offending spots. Darker-skinned people—read Asians and Africans–have higher concentrations of melanin than their fairer Caucasian cousins. Some of the commonly used ingredients in skin lighteners include:
- Drink lots of water: It helps flush out toxins. To have glowing and healthy skin, you should drink at least two to three litres of water every day, says Dr. Sharad.
- Retinoic acid, a derivative of Vitamin A;
- Kojic acid;
- Azelaic Acid;
- Vitamin C;
- Licorice extracts;
- Calcium Pantetheine Sulfonate;
- Lemon Extract;
- Mulberry Extract;
- Niacinamide, Vitamin B3 by another name;
- Soy Milk; and
- Vitamin E.
It’s important though to remember that some of these skin lightening agents should be used with caution, and only under a dermatologist’s supervision because they could cause skin irritation. Nykaa recommends some proven skin lightening creams such as Sesderma C-Vit Radiance Glowing Fluid, Bioderma White Objective Serum, Kaya Pigmentation Reducing Complex and L’Oreal Paris White Perfect Laser Day Essence.
Oral skin whitening agents
Dr. Sharad says that besides external whitening creams, internal skin lightening preparations are fast gaining popularity. Some of the systemic skin whitening agents available today include:
- Glutathione (GSH): This is It is the most commonly used systemic skin whitening agent that lightens the body from the inside. It’s used alone or in various combinations. The role of GSH as a skin whitening agent was an accidental discovery when skin lightening was noticed as a side effect when large doses of GSH were administered for liver detoxification.
- L-Cysteine Peptide: This is another agent used for skin whitening. It’s more potent than GSH; a naturally occurring plant compound and a potent antioxidant it protects cells against free radicals and reactive atoms that contribute to tissue damage.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid: This is a super anti-oxidant that regulates oil production, firms skin, increases glutathione produced naturally by the body and thus lightens the skin. It’s also a common ingredient in many skin lightening creams.
- Miscellaneous agents: Large doses of vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, epidermal growth factor and combinations of multiple natural extracts (such as natural collagen extracts, Bearberry extract, Glycyrrhiza glabra extract, Lycopene, Kelp, Olive leaf extract, Hawthorn, Coix Seed and Pearl extract) are also touted as skin whitening agents in the form of food or dietary supplements
Chemical peeling using fruit acids or other peeling agents is the most preferable skin whitening treatment says Dr. Sharad. “It helps to jump start the turnover of dead discolored skin layers to achieve a brighter, more even skin tone, free of dark spots and hyperpigmentation.” There are several types of chemical peels, ranging from mild to strong—Alpha Hydroxy Acids to Trichloro Acetic Acid—and formula strength peels tailored to individual needs.
This procedure works by gentle abrasion to remove the top layer of skin with the use of a crystal or diamond tipped instrument, thus lightening blemishes to give skin a more even tone. “It’s one of the least invasive procedures available today and very safe even for people with dark skin,” says Dr. Sharad. However, she adds that to achieve effective skin lightening, multiple microdermabrasion sessions may be required.
Laser skin whitening is fast gaining popularity as the treatment of choice for many. “Laser skin whitening shows the fastest results when compared to other treatment options,” says Dr. Sharad. The procedure involves emitting high intensity energy sources which get absorbed by melanin. Due to this absorption the dark parts of the skin cells that cause high melanin get destroyed. The laser skin whitening treatment generally requires four sittings at a gap of 6 weeks for getting the desired results of skin lightening. “Q-switched Nd:Yag laser (1064 nm) is the laser of choice for skin lightening treatment,” she adds.
“Mesoporation is a novel process that allows the painless delivery of medically active compounds into targeted areas through the skin,” says Dr Sharad. For skin lightening, a specially prepared mixture of vitamins, amino acids and brightening ingredients like Liquorice and Arbutin are introduced deep into the skin using an electroporation device. “This procedure is very safe and doesn’t have any down time,” she points out.
Micro-needling with glutathione
This is a new and very effective treatment for skin lightening. A Dermaroller is used to create micro channels in the skin into which Glutathione solution is applied. This leads to significant improvement in skin colour, reduction in dark spots and an even skin tone. “However, this procedure can cause swelling and redness that settles in a few days.”
So which fairness option are you going to choose?