How Does Skin Lightening Cream Operate?

The purpose of skin lightening creams, often referred to as skin brightening creams, is to lighten skin tone. Dark patches of skin, such age spots or acne scars, are frequently treated using the creams. On occasion, they are used to brighten the whole skin.

Read More: Skin brightening cream

These creams may have adverse consequences even when they are prescribed for particular skin disorders. Particularly with over-the-counter treatments that might not have undergone safety testing, the hazards can be very substantial.

The operation of skin-lightening creams is covered in this article. It also discusses the hazards associated with taking them and the problems they can address.

What Do Creams for Skin Lightening Mean?

Products intended to lighten and bleach the skin are called skin-lightening lotions. To lower the amount of melanin, they specifically target skin cells. Skin cells create a pigment called melanin. It controls the perceived lightness or darkness of our skin.

Products for whitening the skin can be found in the form of oils, serums, lotions, and creams. Generally speaking, thicker creams and oils are superior for dry skin. If you usually have oily skin, you might wish to use a milder serum. Which sort is ideal for your skin type may be determined by seeing your dermatologist.

There are several types of skin-lightening lotions available over-the-counter (OTC) and online. It is advisable to consult your healthcare physician prior to utilizing skin-lightening lotions, though. Unlike over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, which could include hazardous substances, prescription medicines are routinely examined for safety and efficacy.

How Do Creams for Skin Lightening Operate?

The components in skin-lightening lotions help to reduce the amount of melanin produced by your body. Cells known as melanocytes produce melanin. The way skin-whitening creams function is by reducing the quantity of melanocytes in your skin.

Hydroquinone is a common ingredient in skin-lightening lotions and is known to reduce melanocytes.

Antioxidant vitamin C is also frequently used in skin-lightening lotions and has been shown to reduce the synthesis of melanin in human cells.

Glycolic acid functions as an exfoliator and is a common ingredient in skin-brightening lotions. Dead cell removal contributes to skin brightness.

Dark patches can also be lightened using vitamin A derivatives called retinoid medicines. They function by accelerating the skin’s surface cell turnover. These consist of tretinoin, retinol, adapalene gel, and tazarotene.

What Skin Conditions Are Treatable with Skin Lightening Creams?

Skin lightening creams can be applied to a number of discoloration-causing disorders. Among them are:

Age-related spots


scars from acne


Hyperpigmentation after inflammation (PIH)

imbalances in hormones

Addison’s illness

Dark, blotchy patches are a feature of both melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Sun-exposed regions such as the cheeks and forehead are common.

In regions of the skin that are inflamed due to skin damage, PIH causes a darker complexion. For instance, black patches may remain after severe acne clears up, or scarring may result in darker regions.

Skin darkening can also result from endocrine disorders such Addison’s disease and hormonal abnormalities.

The adrenal gland fails to generate enough of a few specific hormones in people with Addison’s disease. High levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone are produced by people with Addison’s disease, which causes the melanocytes to create more melanin and darken the skin.

Certain Skin Lightening Cream Risks

OTC products that included hydroquinone were taken off the market in 2020. This was due to their classification as “not generally recognized as safe and effective” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products containing hydroquinone were taken off retail shelves, however they can still be obtained with a prescription.

Exogenous ochronosis, a condition that causes the skin to look blue and black, has been related to hydroquinone. Skin discolouration may remain after treatment, and the disease is challenging to manage. When using hydroquinone over a larger skin area or in higher doses, discoloration could occur more often.

Steroid acne is another potential adverse effect of the corticosteroid-containing skin whitening products that are widely available. In addition, it can cause skin deterioration, leaving users with open wounds and scars.

There have also been reports of less severe adverse effects, such as skin irritation and dermatitis.


Skin lightening creams can be used to the entire skin or just to dark spots on the skin. Certain skin problems like melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation may require a prescription for them.

These lotions may, however, have harmful side effects. Exogenous ochronosis is a condition that causes the skin to become blue and black in those who use hydroquinone. Certain skin whitening creams could include mercury, which can cause nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disease, or mercury poisoning.