CAll Us: +2348034015857


Worldwide,  a  light complexion  skin  has  become  a  standard of  beauty  in  some  populations  with  dark  skin, with the frequent use of skin-lightening compounds by many people from these areas. Skin-bleaching practices, such as using skin-lightening creams and soaps to achieve a lighter skin tone or to “whiten” skin, are common among non-White populations throughout the world, triggered by deep historical, economic, sociocultural, and psychosocial roots.
“Skin Whitening” also known as skin lightening/toning/bleaching is the practice of using substances, mixtures, or physical treatments to lighten skin color.

The main aim of skin whitening is to obtain a more even skin tone and to lighten any sun damaged and age spots or . This is a highly achievable aim with the right amount of supervision from an expert (dermatologist). However, in most cases, skin whitening products are applied without any expert advice nor supervision leading mostly to unwanted results and this is mostly done to achieve a cosmetic effect, the much desired lighter skin tone.

In order to meet the high demands of these cosmetics, the cosmetic market is currently flooded with a large variety of bleaching creams and soaps most of which contain hydroquinones, cortico-steroids and mercury. When used they act by preventing the production of the black pigment called melanin resulting in initial lightening of the skin which appeals to users thus encouraging further use
 resulting in severe bad side effects.
The unsupervised use of skin whitening creams may land you in far more serious problems. These problems can stem from the fact that the formulations of most of these skin whitening creams/products are shrouded in mystery and awareness of their hazardous effects is low.
Furthermore, the ready availability of skin lightening products…..creams and soaps over the counter and the indiscriminate prescription habits of health workers have also inadvertently encouraged the continuous usage.
This post and subsequent ones will help us understand some of the harmful effects of skin bleaching practices.
There are so many side effects of skin bleaching in practice and in literature but today we will start with these seven. Have a great time reading and digesting this bit for now!

1) Skin Cancer

Skin whitening creams contain mainly 3 chemicals; Hydroquinone, Mercury. But, most creams sold in the market are a dangerous cocktail of compounds like steroids and tretinoin, alongside hydroquinone. These compounds have carcinogenic properties and long term use can lead to lethal health concerns like skin cancer and liver damage.

2) Hyperpigmentation

Using hydroquinone in doses higher than 2% or for periods longer than 3 months will lead to darkening of the skin…. a bluish black discoloration of the skin (exogenous ochronosis) which is permanent and very resistant to further treatment. Over-usage of skin whitening products can also cause hyperpigmentation at the level of the fingers, toes, ears and other extremities, causing them to look darker and mismatched. Especially prone to this are areas with so much keratin or high friction areas.

Another negative effect can develop known as the “Bleach Panda Effect”. What happens here is that the skin around the eyes become thinned and have increased pigmentation, This is cute on a Panda but definitely not on a human. The so called black eye but here induced by bleaching.

3) Thinning of the Skin

Repeated use of skin whitening creams may cause thinning of the skin (epidermal atrophy). This condition is characterised by severe bruising, exposed blood vessels (capillaries/veins can easily be seen and are close to the skin), stretch marks and other serious skin problems.

4) Skin Healing Properties

Normal and undamaged skin has the ability to heal itself and regenerate skin cells through 4 processes: Haemostasis (blood clotting), Inflammation, Proliferation (growth of skin tissue) and Maturation (remodeling). When the skin is subjected to heavy and/or continuous doses of the chemicals in skin whitening creams, it looses its ability to heal. Hence, injuries, lesions or rashes are much difficult to treat.

5) Skin Irritations

The way hydroquinone works is it inhibits the enzyme reaction that causes the production of dark pigments (melanin). Unfortunately, hydroquinone causes mild irritation which generally causes skin irritations like redness, peeling of the skin, rash, dryness and burning.

6) Worsening of Skin Infections

According to several studies, notably one conducted by the Department of Dermatology at the Institut d’Hygiène Sociale, Dakar – Senegal and published in the 2003 British Journal of Dermatology; people who suffer from skin diseases like acne, dermatitis and eczema are adversely affected by skin bleaching/whitening creams. The study also found that hydroquinone caused worsening or the introduction of skin diseases.
Furthermore, most skin whitening creams contain steroids which when used on acne (pimples) can block the pores and lead to the development of new acne. Thus these bleaching creams especially the ones containing steroid can further lead to bleach acne.

7) Mercury Poisoning

One of the more serious risks of unsupervised and continuous use of skin whitening creams is Mercury Poison. According to the WHO, mercury poisoning can cause the following:

  • Kidney and liver damage
  • cancers
  • Skin rashes
  • Skin discoloration and scarring
  • Reduction in skin’s ability to fight infections like bacterial and fungal infections
  • Anxiety, depression or psychosis, pain and tingling sensation due to damage of peripheral nerves
  • Nephrotic syndrome (a kidney condition marked by leakage of protein in urine)
The aim of skin whitening in itself is quite logical and innocent. However, that is only if it is carried out under the supervision of an expert. Prolonged and unsupervised use of these mysteriously formulated creams will likely land you in more trouble than you bargained for.
If you are just beginning the skin whitening process, I hope this post enlightens you on how much caution you should take.
However, if you are already suffering from some side effects of using skin whitening creams, then not all hope is lost. Some of the side effects are reversible and you can get help from the expert dermatologists, get back to normal health and still get back your natural skin tone.
Stick around for more information on this subject.

Thank you for reading and sharing this post. Don’t forget

to like our Facebook page and other social media profiles.

Adebajo SB. An epidemiological survey of the use of cosmetic skin lightening cosmetics among traders in Lagos, Nigeria. Mercury. 2002;5(7):43-8.
Olumide YM, Akinkugbe AO, Altraide D, Mohammed T, Ahamefule N, Ayanlowo S, Onyekonwu C, Essen N. Complications of chronic use of skin lightening cosmetics. International Journal of dermatology. 2008 Apr 1;47(4):344-53
About the Author

Leave a Reply