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May 312011

Skin lightening products are used to inhibit the production of melanin. Melanin is a brown coloured pigment produced by the skin to give it color. The more the exposure to the sun, the more pigment is produced. Its function is to protect the skin from the effect of the sun’s rays. Those living in tropical or hot countries, where sunshine is in plenty, people have dark skin due to the presence of large quantities of melanin.

As the skin ages, there may be dark color spots or areas in the skin. These are due to collection of melanin and are caused by hormonal imbalance. They are mostly on the raised surfaces of the face like cheeks, forehead and nose. This affects mostly women. They try to get rid of uneven skin tone by using skin lightening creams. In medical terms it is called melasma.

The main ingredients found in skin lightening creams are mercury and hydroquinone. They are not safe and are carcinogenic or cancer causing. Through intensive research some natural ingredients have been found which whiten the skin and can be used in cosmetics. They are:

Alpha hydroxyl acids or AHAs. They are sourced from milk which contains lactic acid, sugar which contains glycolic acid and fruits which contain acids such as citric and malic.

Alpha hydroxyl acids prevent damage to skin cells and renew the formation of new cells. They help the skin to retain moisture. They help to peel off the topmost damaged layer of the skin. However, this action may make the skin sensitive to sunlight so it is better to protect the skin from direct sunlight during the day.

Licorice extract is found in the licorice fruit. It whitens the skin and reduces redness of the skin which can be noticed during the formation of melanin.

Kojic acid is produced by fungus such as Penicillium as they undergo various processes during their growth. Kojic acid is widely used to stop the production of melanin and to lighten the black spots already formed. It helps to lighten skin cells.

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is found in citrus fruit such as oranges, sweet lime and lemon and green vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and beans. It prevents damage to skin cells when the skin is exposed to the sun and helps to repair the cells already damaged.

Arbutin is derived from mulberry, bearberry and cranberry fruits and leaves. It stops the production of melanin in the skin and thus makes the color of skin lighter. It also brightens the face.

With these natural and effective ingredients available, it is better to use them and give the go by to harmful chemicals.