Brightening vs. Whitening: Do you know the difference?
When it comes to fading dark spots, sun spots, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, you may reach for the first product that promises to fade imperfections.
But the choice between a brightening product like Vitamin C, or a whitening product like Hydroquinone can make or break the integrity of your skin.
Other common whitening agents like Kojic Acid have a depigmentation effect on the skin by inhibiting melanocytes. By altering the body and its natural defense mechanism, these products are considered OTC drugs and should not be purchased or used without the guidance of a medical professional. (Psst, skip these products when you’re shopping online or in the cosmetics aisle.)
A much safer alternative to dangerous ingredients like Kojic Acid includes antioxidants.
Look for skin brightening ingredients like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Resveratrol, Cordyceps, Kombucha, and Astaxanthin. These ingredients protect the skin from free-radical damage, oxidative stress, inflammation, and can help your skin return to its proper function.
The risks associated with whitening creams are many:
- Skin infections that appear or worsen: scabies, yeast infection, bacterial infection, etc.
- Severe acne that appears or worsens, directly related to the abuse of skin corticosteroids. It affects up to 50% of users.
- Facial lesions, suggesting lupus or contact dermatitis.
- Large and irreversible stretch marks. They are particularly numerous and can be localized in particular on the neck, the décolleté or the buttocks. 7 to 44% of users suffer from it.
- Atrophy of the skin. Fragile and thinned, the epidermis has difficulty regenerating itself and therefore healing.
- Light or dark spots on the skin, sometimes permanent.
- Hyperpilosity, linked to the abuse of cortisone.
- Hypertension and diabetes linked to excess corticosteroids.
- Kidney disease (glomerular nephropathy) associated with the consumption of mercury derivatives.
Indirectly, the use of whitening creams also promotes the appearance of skin cancer. Indeed, the production of melanin has the advantage of protecting our epidermis against UV rays from the sun. By inhibiting melanin-production, whitening ingredients increase the risk of long-term and irreversible sun damage.