Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ingredients that Whiten the Skin

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any women, especially in the country where I live, yearn to have a lighter complexion. We are constantly being bombarded by advertisements of these products to convince us that having a fairer skin is desirable. Thus, many whitening products exist in the market to address this demand. 

Several creams, lotions, soaps, BB creams, and other skin care products contain whitening agents that may or may not work. In this post, I will be giving you an overview about the different substances (arranged alphabetically) found in our products that are known to whiten the skin. I will keep adding to this list in the future so stay tuned!


Arbutin is a naturally occurring substance found in the leaves of bearberry, cranberry, mulberry, and blueberry shrubs. When absorbed into the skin, it converts into hydroquinone. It inhibits melanin production and is most potent in its pure form. It is believed to be a safe alternative to hydroquinone though allergic reactions may arise in some users.


Glutathione is a substance that can be found in the body and is produced by the liver. It is involved in several physiological processes such as tissue repair and detoxification. When applied topically, glutathione can slow down melanin production,  resulting to lighter skin.


Hydroquinone whitens the skin by inhibiting the production of melanin (a pigment that gives color to the skin). Despite it's efficacy, the ingredient is banned in some countries due to it's controversial harmful effects. OTC products contain this substance up to 2% concentration, whereas prescription products contain 4% or more. When exposed to light, it turns into a brown color and loses it's efficacy.

Kojic Acid

Kojic Acid is a naturally occurring substance that may also used as a food additive. It whitens the skin by inhibiting the production of tyrosinase, a substance involved in melanin production. It is similar in efficacy with hydroquinone, and is found to cause no skin irritation at 1% concentration. However, when used long term, it may lead to contact dermatitis and erythema. Kojic Acid is unstable and will lose it's efficacy when exposed to sunlight or air.


Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that can be found in many foods such as milk, eggs, cereal grains, and meat. It is found in many beauty products and is commonly used to moisturize dry skin. It is also found to be effective in reducing skin pigmentation without harmful effects.

Vitamin C and Vitamin E

The hydrophilic Vitamin C and the fat-soluble Vitamin E are two of the substances that are commonly found in skin care products that claim to improve skin tone. A study showed that the two types of vitamins, when used together, are found to be more effective in whitening rather than when used alone.

So there you are, the ingredients that are responsible for whitening the skin. But of course, products containing one or more from the above list does not automatically mean they are effective. It still has to depend on the concentration of the whitening ingredient and the handling of the product, so make sure you do your research before you take the bait.

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