Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist - Written by Sritama Dutta (Medical Science) on 14th Oct 2020
Is Skin Bleaching Good Or Harmful
If you are worried about dark spots and blemishes on your face, be rest assured you are not alone.
You must have thought about facial bleaching at least once as an easy solution. Bleaching is one of the most popular approaches when you want a brighter looking skin or want to get rid of the unpleasant dark spots on your face.
Do the darker facial hairs bother you too? Facial bleaching can help you in covering up the unwanted facial hair almost instantly.
However, if you are not so familiar with the concept of facial bleaching, it might feel a little intimidating to you. It is justified if you question whether bleaching is good or bad for skin or the risks you may face.
Fortunately, you don't have to wonder anymore. In today's article, we will address all your concerns about facial bleaching and many more.
What is Facial Bleaching?
Due to hormonal imbalance or genetic inheritance, many women suffer from excessive hair growth on their face. A darker shade of facial hair and thick growth often make the skin look darker than the original complexion.
Facial bleach is cream containing certain chemicals that can lighten your facial hair color when applied on your skin. It is a more quick way to brighten your face than other forms of hair removal.
Facial bleaching makes your skin appear lighter and brighter. But the ingredients in it don't have any effect on your complexion. They discolor your dark facial hair into a softer and blonde shade, making your skin look fairer.
It is a more widely accepted way of hiding facial hair than other approaches like waxing, epilating, shaving, threading, or laser hair removal. It is because the different methods of hair removal are comparatively painful, messy, or expensive. Unlike them, bleaching is a more cost-effective, hassle-free, painless option, and you can easily do it at home by yourself.
How does Facial Bleach Work?
Bleach creams can not only lighten your facial hair but also helps you to get rid of age spots and skin hyperpigmentation.
Before we understand how facial bleach works, it's essential to know about the ingredients that do the job.
Facial bleach creams generally contain chemicals. Sodium Hypochlorite is one of the ingredients included in the cream and is responsible for the bleaching action.
It also contains chemicals like calcium hypochlorite, sodium percarbonate, sodium di-thionate, and, more importantly, Hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent that releases oxygen when applied to your skin. The burst of oxygen molecules causes sloughing of the old and the dead skin cells, leaving you with flawless glowing skin.
It is claimed to relieve acne scars, blemishes, and dark spots by busting the melanin concentration in your epidermal and dermal layer.
Other bleaching agents like Hydroquinone decrease your skin's melanocyte count and give you the appearance of a lighter and even skin complexion.
Is Facial Bleach Good for Your Skin?
From a medical POV (point of view), there is no need to lighten the skin tone. You are fantastic in your skin. Nevertheless, we understand that carrying a brighter and flawless skin can immensely boost your confidence when you set foot in the outer world. To help you make a better and informed decision about whether to try bleaching or not, we have enlisted all the potential benefits and risks that come with chemical facial bleaching.
Benefits of Facial Bleach You Must Know About
Although there is no apparent benefit of bleaching to your dermal health, the resultant bright and glowing skin is undoubtedly a desirable effect for most women.
1. Reduces Dark Spots
Dark spots can appear in your skin due to various reasons such as aging, hormonal changes that occur during puberty or pregnancy, sun damage, or your body's genetic build.
Facial bleaching can reduce melanin production in your dermal layers or decrease the concentration of melanin pigment. This can give you flawless skin without any unwanted spots and marks.
2. Fades Away Sun Tans
Long hours under the sun can tan your exposed skin and give it an unsightly appearance. Bleaching helps in reducing the tan marks and gives you a more evenly toned skin complexion.
3. Gives You A Glowing Skin Instantly
The chemical components of bleach, like mercury, sodium hypochlorite, or hydroquinone, lighten your facial hair by diminishing their natural pigment- melanin content. It turns the darker hair to a lighter golden hue within 10-15 minutes and instantly gives you a brighter, glowing skin.
4. Helps to Get Rid of Skin Marks
Face bleaching can help you to reduce acne marks and other skin discoloration like Melasma or freckles. It can also minimize characters left after skin infections like psoriasis or eczema.
5. Painless and Hassle-free Method
Bleaching only requires you to apply the cream on your face and leave it for a few minutes. You will feel a little tingling sensation on your skin, which means that the product is working. And after you wash away the cream, you would no longer have to worry about the dark hairs on your skin. Whereas threading or waxing is more time-consuming and above that, you will have to endure the pain and burns coupled with the processes.
Side Effects of Facial Bleach That You Shouldn't Ignore
Using harsh chemicals on the sensitive skin of your face comes with some side effects. Before you consider bleaching your face, it is wise to know all the risks you might encounter.
1. More Susceptible to Sun Damage
Melanocytes in our skin produce melanin pigments, which give us our complexion and save our skin from the sun's dangerous and harmful rays.
The ingredients in bleaching creams penetrate your dermal layer and manipulate the melanocytes to produce a reduced amount of melanin. While it does make your skin look brighter, it also compromises your skin from its natural sun protection ability.
Going out in the sun without sufficient SPF protection or covering the skin can cause severe sunburns on exposed skin.
2. Skin Irritation and Inflammation
Bleaching can act as an exfoliator that can peel off the dead skin layer. But it can also cause thinning of your skin by sloughing off your healthy dermal layer. This makes your skin more prone to infections as it now lacks its first line of defense. Bleaching can also remove the natural microbiome of your skin and make it more susceptible to external adversities. This leads to:
- Skin irritations
- Dermatitis or eczema
- The skin may become itchy
- Blisters may appear.
Bleaching cream can even have carcinogenic effects and make the skin prone to cancers.
3. Risk of Mercury Toxicity
Bleaching creams often contain ingredients like mercury (II) chloride or ammoniated mercury. Though it has been banned from being used in cosmetic products by the FDA, it sometimes creeps in few products stealthily. Inhalation of the toxic fumes of the mercury compounds or even contact of mercury with the skin can have serious detrimental effects.
It can cause:
- Scarring of tissues
- Formation of discolored patches on the skin
- Peripheral neuropathy.
Dermatologists have also found cases of hyperpigmentation, scarring, and premature aging of skin tissues due to mercury present in bleaching creams.
4. Effects of Hydroquinone
One of the main ingredients of bleaching creams is Hydroquinone. It is known for inhibiting the production of melanin in the skin to give it a lighter shade. According to recent studies, it is stated that Hydroquinone over 2% concentration in any cosmetic product can have harmful effects.
Researches have shown that long-term use of creams containing higher Hydroquinone concentrations can cause blue-grey pigmentation on your skin, which is termed as ochronosis.
It can cause damage to the extracellular matrix protein present in your skin, known as elastin. The elastin fibers are responsible for the resiliency of your skin. Hydroquinone causes the breakdown of these elastin strands, which leads to premature aging of your skin, forms wrinkles, and weakens your skin.
5. Other Deleterious Consequences
Corticosteroids present in facial bleaching creams can cause steroid acne with large painful bumps and leave your skin with scars if used for a long time.
Dermatologists have stated that more than 3% concentration of Hydrogen Peroxide in cosmetics can be toxic.
The hydrogen peroxide in bleaching products can cause complications like blisters, hives, or burns. It can also cause itchiness and irritation and can lead to eczema.
Safer Alternatives For Glowing Skin
Skin lightening can also be achieved effectively by other safer and gentler alternatives like serums. If you are not comfortable using the harsh chemicals on your skin, these organic substitutes can tube your desired skin tone and texture without harming your skin.
Here are five safe alternatives to get lighter and radiant skin:
Recent advancements in cosmetics have found that Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) have excellent depigmenting properties. One such AHA is glycolic acid, which has been widely accepted and incorporated in many cosmetic formulations. It acts as a gentle exfoliator and evens the skin tone by reducing the dark spots and scars. Combined with other products, glycolic acid can help skin tightening by allowing them to penetrate deeper dermal layers.
- Minimalist AHA 25% + PHA 5% + BHA 2%
Niacinamide serum is the new age solution of almost all primary skin problems. It is a form of Vitamin B3 that can do wonders on your skin. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial as well as anti-aging properties.
Recent researches have shown, regular application of Niacinamide caused 35-68% inhibition of melanin formation. After four weeks of use, Niacinamide was able to decrease hyperpigmentation considerably and increased skin brightness.
Experts from Minimalist say, 10% concentration of pure Niacinamide has been proved to show improvement in lightening skin complexion when used for two weeks. It acts as an antioxidant and busts the dark spots and blemishes to give you clear, radiant skin.
Kojic acid is a newly developed formula for cosmetics that has been obtained by fermentation of Aspergillus flavus. It has excellent antioxidant properties. It inhibits the excess melanin production in your skin by inhibiting an amino acid (L-tyrosine)needed for melanogenesis.
Kojic acid is used in an ester form for cosmetic purposes as pure Kojic Acid is highly volatile. A serum that contains high percentages of Kojic dipalmitate is recommended to reduce the effects of sun damage and hyperpigmentation. It releases free radicals from your dermal layer and effectively fades away dark spots and patches.
Alpha Arbutin is another safe alternative for skin lightening that can effectively reduce skin pigmentations and give you flawless glowing skin.
Experts from Minimalist advice,
2% Kojic Acid + 1% Alpha Arbutin serum is a great duo that can dramatically reduce hyperpigmentation and acne scars without harming your skin.
Citrus Extracts (Vitamin C)
Using Vitamin C can be the best herbal and safe alternative for skin lightening.
It can diminish free radicals in your skins, which are responsible for hyperpigmentation and ageing.
It is slightly acidic, which can have a gentle exfoliating effect on your skin and help eliminate the dead skin or cells on your epidermis.
Skin lightening doesn't necessarily mean you have to use hard chemicals. You can have radiantly beautiful skin using safer products that are soft on your skin and nourish it.
As the saying goes, "Take good care of your skin. You will have to wear it every day."