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There are just days when I want to go back into the past and be a sweet little baby again.
Yes, I was helpless, and my only responsibilities were to sleep, cry, eat, and dispose, but hey, I didn't know what stress was, I didn't lack sleep, and I didn't worry - people worried over me and for me instead.
Also being a baby would mean that I get to enjoy, smooth, even-toned, supple, and delicate skin - the kind of skin that I wouldn’t be ashamed to flaunt even in my birthday suit.
These days stress, worry, and “adult” responsibilities make me cry, lose sleep, and skip meals. I now worry over people as well and worry for the well-being of myself.
As for my skin, the youthful glow of my baby years faded a long time ago.
Too much exposure to the sun, contact with pollution and harmful elements around my environment, and yes, the stress, lack of sleep and nutrition took a toll.
Not only is my skin dry and crepey, but my complexion also doesn't match as well: Tan lines are now my constant friend.
Now, if you are like me (stressed, tan lines and all), listen up. We can either opt to even out our complexions by matching the tan or by matching the original skin color.
Since the majority of my body is still the same shade as the original, I chose the latter - I choose to bleach my skin.
What Is Skin Bleaching?
Contrary to popular belief (probably because it has the word in it) skin bleaching does not have any bleach in it. Therefore, bleaching your skin won't make you smell like Clorox-soaked clothes afterward.
Also, if you think that skin bleaching is done for purely aesthetic purposes, again, your are wrong. For people with skin discoloration brought about by some cutaneous diseases, skin bleaching can be considered a treatment.
Skin bleaching can also help you get rid of big visible birthmarks, as it does not match the color of your skin you now have the chance to even it out.
In bleaching your skin, the main goal is to reduce the body’s melanin. This is done through chemical substances or even procedures to reduce the concentration of melanin.
Melanin is produced by your melanocyte cells, and this melanin is responsible for the pigment of your skin, your hair, and even your eyes.
People with darker complexions have more melanin in them, while people with fairer skin tones have less.
In skin bleaching, the area that is hyperpigmented, or where melanin is concentrated the most, will be targeted.
Through this process, the melanin production is disrupted by the skin bleaching agent which allows your skin to whiten.
Skin bleaching is also commonly known as skin whitening.
Is It Dangerous?
Even without actual bleach in it, you might ask me if bleaching your skin would be dangerous.
Is bleach harmful to skin? or is bleaching your skin safe? Well, like everything else in this world, too much of everything is bad.
Skin bleaching is not dangerous for you or for your skin as is, but excessive and even abusive use of products that bleach your skin would be dangerous to you - even fatal.
For starters, skin bleaching creams or pills when used in excess can increase the risk of skin cancer.
You probably heard the term “hydroquinone.” Hydroquinone, an organic compound, is a type of phenol that is common in whitening products such as creams.
Phenol, as in phenol in deep chemical peels, is already a known ingredient that can do wonders for your skin. It is no surprise that hydroquinone could too, especially if your goal is achieving a fairer complexion.
Creams with hydroquinone are either over-the-counter or prescription-based depending on which country, but overall only 2% maximum dosage is approved by the FDA. A higher dosage of hydroquinone cannot be sold OTC and will need doctor’s prescription and prerogative.
If abused, hydroquinone, which contains carcinogenic ingredients, may bring you skin cancer and serious adrenal gland problems.
Aside from a possibility of cancer, using a higher dosage of hydroquinone for more than 3 months can give you the opposite effect - you may get exogenous ochronosis.
Exogenous ochronosis is a condition wherein your skin darkens. What’s worse is that it becomes resistant; even the deepest of peels and the excessive skin bleaching couldn’t lighten it. Now, imagine all those wasted treatments!
And as if exogenous ochronosis wasn’t bad enough, excessive skin bleaching still has something else up its sleeve - the bleach panda effect.
Imagine a cute, cuddly panda. What makes a panda a panda? Of course the cute black spots on its eyes!
Now imagine those cute black spots on your own eyes. Eh, it doesn’t look as cute. It’s hideous.
With the bleach panda effect, the skin around your eyes is thinner and pigmented which means you will have those dark circles for life.
The list goes on if you use excessive skin bleaching agents.
Your skin might be too thin, enough to clearly see the veins, capillaries and stretch marks. You might even hinder your skin’s natural healing properties and worsen skin infections and such.
So to answer your question on whether skin bleaching is dangerous, the answer is a no with reservations.
No, it's not if you observe proper dosage and timing, and yes, it will harm you if you ingest or apply more than what was required over a longer period of time.
So if you think that the more and longer you apply it, the faster your skin will even out - nope. Stick to the protocol, unless resembling a cuddly panda is forever your goal.
How to Bleach Your Skin
Since I emphasized the importance of moderation and following doctor’s orders let’s get down to business!
You have a variety of options to get whiter skin. These options are either procedure, a more natural or organic method, or an everyday routine that won't hurt you.
Either way, in the journey to the bleaching of your skin, choose the method that you think suits you, your budget and your time.
After you are all evened out, we just want to see you glow - not be stressed!
Scientific advancements can also help you. You may either choose skin lightening surgery which has faster and more permanent results, or go for the slow but sure whitening products that are a huge hit in the beauty department nowadays.
1. Skin Lightening Surgery
In bleaching your skin you, of course, want the results to be a permanent thing, I mean who wouldn't?
So if you have money and patience to spare, you may opt to go for skin lightening surgeries.
Skin lightening surgeries can either be through peeling or laser.
Both treatments though are aimed to reduce the amount of melanin your body produces and can address a particular region that is hyperpigmented or the entire body.
With peeling, tretinoin or the all-trans retinoic acid is applied all over the body. This makes the skin “mature” faster, therefore dying faster.
After skin matures, your dermatologist can now easily peel off the skin to reveal an evened out or fairer complexion.
The laser is probably the most common and direct method. Through laser beams, the hyperpigmented area is targeted, disrupting the melanin production and eventual darkening of the skin.
Patients are advised to use creams to relieve discomfort brought by laser whitening. You are also advised to stay at home as much as possible to prevent the sun’s ray from damaging your newly whitened skin.
2. Using Whitening Products
If you do not want to undergo procedures, your trusted dermatologist can recommend whitening products to you in the form of pills or creams.
You are probably familiar with glutathione, dubbed as the “mother of all antioxidants?”
Yes, it is an important ingredient in skin whitening products but did you know that it's popularity as a skin whitener is purely accidental? In fact, many considered it a side-effect, a very beneficial one if you ask me.
Originally, glutathione is produced by the liver, and it helps detoxify the liver as well.
Aside from detoxifying, glutathione is also a good antioxidant and has anti-aging properties. Overall, it helps in the treatment of cataracts, cancer, heart diseases and even Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's.
Glutathione has become more popular. It is found in pills, soaps, lotions, and creams.
Buy one that suits you best and religiously follow the instructions on how to take it or use it.
Aside from glutathione, kojic acids soaps are also trendy in terms of skin bleaching nowadays.
Whatever skin lightening product you may choose, always remember that results aren't instantaneous. Be patient and diligent, and you will soon be rewarded with a hard-earned fairer complexion.
Not only is lemon a favorite for its zesty and refreshing taste, but it can also do wonders in your quest to bleach your skin as well.
Lemon is a citrus, meaning it is a fruit packed with ascorbic acid or Vitamin C. Not only does it help strengthen your immunity against common colds and such, but Vitamin C is also a great antioxidant.
Part of the reason why you have areas with darker skin is because of free radical damage. This damage can be brought about by the sun’s harsh rays or other factors, but it means your skin is prone to hyperpigmentation.
Antioxidants are free radical damage’s greatest enemy. In the case of lemon, it can exfoliate your skin and therefore help lighten your skin tone and improve the condition of your skin.
For skin bleaching, lemon is also recommended as it helps reduce melanin production.
We have already discussed what melanin can do, but we have not discussed what LEMON can do.
Lemon can disrupt tyrosinase, the enzyme that is responsible for stimulating the melanin production in your skin.
If the stimulus is disrupted, then the excess production of melanin can be prevented as well as the darkening of your skin.
To use lemon, you might try to use it in juice form or as a face mask.
I prefer to use fresh lemons than the bottled ones, first, because it is cheaper and second because it is undiluted unlike the latter.
You can apply lemon juice to the face, or if you want, you can opt to drink some of it too.
As for the face mask, you can combine lemon juice with milk.
Why milk you might ask? Milk, as it is, is already good for the skin (milk baths, anyone?) this is because it contains lactic acid.
Lactic acid helps exfoliate the skin, and when combined with lemon it can balance everything out.
Lemon has the tendency to dry out your skin, but with milk’s water retention and moisture enhancing enzymes, all is well.
A lemon and milk face mask or body wash can be done at least once or twice a week.
Love eating oranges but feel like the peels are such a waste? Don’t worry, keep those peels!
You can use it for cakes (orange caramelize rinds make good garnishes!), but more importantly, you can use it to whiten your skin.
Like lemon, orange is also a citrus rich in ascorbic acid. It can help exfoliate your skin, deeply cleansing it and de-pigmenting it to help you get and even complexion.
With oranges, even the peels contain Vitamin C, so eat the fruit, keep the peel and use it.
Dry the peel under the sun until there is no moisture left, afterward powderize it by grinding.
You can mix the two teaspoons of orange peel powder with a teaspoon each of yogurt and honey for a moisturizing yet exfoliating mask.
Yogurt is an anti-inflammatory agent and honey is a natural cleanser, mixed with orange peel you do not need to worry about the redness or excessive oil. You can treat acne and hyperpigmentation with this combination.
Pumpkin spice lattes, jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin cakes, and a pumpkin carriage aren’t the only purposes of pumpkin; it can benefit your skin as well.
As it is a vital source of vitamins A, C, and E, it is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and skin whitening agent.
The retinoic acid in it also helps with exfoliation. The beta-carotene not only helps you have sharper eyes, but also give you a fairer complexion as well.
To use pumpkin, you will need to puree it first to get a paste.
Mix two teaspoons of the puree with half a teaspoon of honey and another half of milk, put it on your face and leave it for 20 minutes before rinsing well.
You can do the pumpkin mask at night before you sleep at least 2 to 3 times a week for smoother, clearer, and fairer skin.
Nature will always have an answer for your health and beauty related concerns. Just pop up to the nearest market or grocery store or even go and raid your kitchen. These goodies will not only help your skin, but your health as well.
Of course you can do something else! These following methods should be a part of your routine. They will address not only your complexion issues, but also a lot of other skin conditions as well.
6. Frequently Exfoliating
Some lightening treatments can cause you to exfoliate as well. Once you are done peeling it off, you are given smoother and whiter skin as the dead cells are now replaced by new ones.
The logic behind why you need to exfoliate in general is because your skin cells die. And like any dead organism, it won't do anything and will cease to move. Therefore, dead skin cells can accumulate if you do not remove them.
When dead skin cells accumulate, your skin will get a crepey and dull look to it. But when you exfoliate, you remove it and encourage your body to produce brand new skin cells.
In lightening your skin, it is not enough to just take in whitening supplements or apply creams. You have to exfoliate as well to remove the previous layer and let the new reduced-in-melanin ones shine through.
I’m pretty sure you’ve seen advertisements of women trying all means, even lucrative ones, to dodge the sun’s rays. Hiding behind thin posts, wearing ridiculous cover-ups, anything.
If you must know, exposure to the rays of the sun does have effects on your skin.
Of course there is the risk of having a painful sunburn, but actually getting one is the least of your worries. Sunburn is temporary, and although painful, given a week, it'll be gone.
Too much exposure to the sun can not only cause skin cancer but can also damage your skin and your complexion.
Religiously use sunscreen every day as it helps prevent brown spots and discoloration that usually happens on the face.
It can also help prevent the premature wrinkling and aging of your skin, so sunscreen equals even and youthful looking skin.
The Bottom Line
Your skin being the largest organ in your body is what can either make you proud or shy. Shy because of blemishes like acne, and even because of uneven skin tone or discoloration.
However, if there's one thing that your skin should do, it makes you feel confident and pretty, thus the expression "feeling confident in my own skin."
With this guide, I hope I addressed some of your hesitations about skin and skin bleaching, and that I have also provided you with enough choices to choose from.
Choose the one that you are most confident in as this confidence can give you the courage to continue.
With this guide I do hope you do get the result you want and that you will confidently flaunt your skin in no time for the world to see!