What are Whitening Creams?

Whitening Creams are products designed to lighten the skin color. These types of products work by decreasing the amount of melanin, a pigment produced by the human skin cell. It also determines how dark or white the skin is. These products that contain a whitening agent can be used for dark spot treatment or to have an overall lighter complexion. However, several lightening creams have dangerous side effects and are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

There is a larger range of whitening cream products that are designed to lighten or bleach the skin. This is done to target the melanocytes that produced melanin. These bleaching and whitening creams may also work to lower the number of melanocytes in the skin. As well as that, these creams can be applied all over the face to treat skin aging, acne scars, dark spots, and to lighten the skin. Although most of the whitening creams are available over the counter or online, it is much safer to consult the doctor first, before using such a product. Prescription products are safer since those products are regularly tested for efficacy and safety, unlike the products one can avail on the internet or over-the-counter. Over-the-counter products may also contain dangerous ingredients that are considered harmful for our skins. 

Some of these whitening products and creams contain corticosteroids and mercury. These components have several documented health risks. Now, the serious risk can occur if there is a higher amount of mercury in a whitening product. In a study conducted in 2014, most of the whitening products contained mercury levels of 1000 ppm, in contrast to the FDA’s advice of not exceeding 1 ppm. High exposure to mercury can cause serious health problems like kidney disease. On the brighter side, some people who used whitening creams have reported skin irritation and dermatitis. These negative reactions are probably because of the presence of steroids. Additionally, skin breakdown, redness, and scarring are some of the many effects of using such a product. 


Most commonly, whitening creams also contain an ingredient called ‘hydroquinone,’ which is a depigmenting agent used to decrease the melanin in the skin. One must note that the said ingredient is responsible for a disorder called ‘exogenous ochronosis,’ which makes the skin appears blue and black. Aside from that, Vitamin C is also present in most of these products since it is an antioxidant that can lower the melanin production of the cells. Another ingredient is the ‘Glycolic Acid’ which served as an exfoliant that helps to brighten the skin by clearing the dead cells. 

Aside from the effects of the whitening creams mentioned above, it can also balance the pigmentation, skin coloring, aside from simply reducing dark spots, acne scars, or freckles. Whitening products are also available in many forms like oils, serums, lotions, and even on an injectable option. So, if you are planning to avail your very own whitening cream, it will be better and safer to talk to your dermatologist first, before anything else. Dermatologists will know what type of whitening product is best for your type of skin. For instance, if you have oily skin, your dermatologist may prescribe you a lighter serum. 

Medically speaking, there are reasons why you are having dark spots or an uneven skin tone. According to a medical study, one of the factors that cause the skin to have an uneven tone is the condition called Melasma and Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH). A person having such a condition may found that the parts of their body which are exposed to the sun often will have a darker complexion than the other areas of their bodies. 

Moreover, the PIH leads to a darker complexion in specific areas that were inflamed due to trauma. Hormonal imbalances and other endocrine diseases like Addison’s disease could also result in the darkening of the skin. This disease hinders the adrenal gland from producing a high level of adrenocorticotropic hormone that works to stimulate the melanocytes in order to produce melanin. People who have Addison’s disease may use skin lightening creams to help lighten the darkening on the skin.