When individuals get uncomfortable with the appearance of their skin, they could get creams, lotions, ointments, and other products containing skin-lightening agents. But, do you know skin-lightening agents could be either for brightening or bleaching?
Brightening agents exfoliate the skin, removing a layer to make it glow (fresher-toned and smooth), but bleaching agents stop the production of melanin in the skin. Melanin is the dark pigment that occurs naturally in skin and nails and helps to protect the body from the harmful rays of the sun.
Some skin-bleaching agents, for example hydroquinone, may stop the production of melanin by blocking the actions of melanin-producing enzymes while others — mercury-containing compounds — remove the pigment, melanin. Hydroquinone at a concentration of 2% is found in many bleaching creams, though some may contain 2 to 3 times that amount. Mercury can be found as mercurous chloride (calomel) and in some other forms with names beginning in mercurous or mercuric. Mercury-containing products include some makeups, cleansing solutions, and eye-contact lens solutions. Kogic acid and kogic palmitate are found in some creams. Some steroids like betamethasone and clobetasone also have bleaching activity.
Skin-brightening agents contain hydroxy acids like lactic acid and glycolic acid. Vitamins A and E can also brighten skin; being antioxidants, they remove free radicals from the skin. Other brighteners include papain, an enzyme found in pawpaw, and bromelain. Bromelain is found in fresh pineapple. Rice extracts and rice bran are also brighteners, used by women in Japan to maintain the smooth texture of their faces. The skin has a natural mechanism for renewing itself, even with stress, to keep its glow but these mechanisms weaken with age. Skin brightening agents can then be used to remove the upper dead-cell layer.
Look out for any of the above-mentioned constituents in your skin-care products and read our next post that will include dangers of skin bleaching.