Skin Lightening Creams & Products for Hyperpigmentation
There are many potential reasons why patients may seek out skin-lightening creams. As we age, sun spots, melasma, and other forms of hyperpigmentation can develop on the skin, leading to dark patches and an overall uneven skin tone. Skin lightening creams prescribed by a board-certified dermatologist can be safe and effective at removing these dark spots on the skin when used as directed; however, some patients may turn to over-the-counter (OTC) creams, soaps, or powders, which are not as easily regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and may be unsafe for use. Furthermore, some patients may turn to skin bleaching, a practice in which skin whitening cream is applied to a large surface area of the skin to lighten the complexion. The global demand for skin whitening products is estimated to be an $8.6 billion market in 2020 and predicted to be worth 12.3 billion by 2027.
When these ingredients are found in low concentrations and applied on a small surface area, they can be safe to brighten the skin and achieve a more even skin tone. However, increased mercury levels can damage the nervous system and cause serious and lasting health issues, hydroquinone can lead to permanent skin discoloration and pigmentation, and prolonged use of corticosteroids can lead to steroid acne and other skin conditions. Before seeking skin-lightening creams, it is best to read the fact sheet about the product and consult with an expert board-certified dermatologist such as Dr. Michele Green.
Experienced board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele Green has been expertly treating patients in her Upper East Side New York City dermatology office for more than 25 years. Adept at many cosmetic and medical procedures, Dr. Green has a wide range of treatment options and cosmetic products available at her office, including skin care products from her proprietary MGSKINLABs, skin lightening products for hyperpigmentation, laser treatments, Botox, dermal fillers, chemical peels, and more. Dr. Green is very experienced in treating patients of all skin types and tones and chooses the products and procedures that will be safest for each patient’s skin color and particular skin condition. Well known for high patient satisfaction, Dr. Green has consistently been voted one of the best healthcare providers in New York City by such publications as Castle Connolly, Super Doctors, and New York Magazine.
What is skin bleaching?
Skin bleaching or skin lightening is the process by which dark spots or areas of pigmentation on the skin are lightened to achieve a more even skin tone. The practice works by applying a lotion, cream, or soap that contains specific chemicals to inhibit the production of melanin, which is the pigment that gives the skin its color, in the treatment area. When prescribed by a dermatologist, skin-lightening products can be a safe and effective way to address skin conditions such as age spots, acne scars, hyperpigmentation, and melasma. However, the chemicals in these products are not safe for long-term use or when used in high concentrations. As skin-lightening products are an expanding global industry, it can be difficult for the FDA to regulate all skin-bleaching cosmetic products that are available online or over the counter, making the regulation of these products are growing public health concern. To protect your skin, prevent unwanted side effects, and guarantee optimal cosmetic results, it is always recommended to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Michele Green in NYC. Dr. Green is an internationally renowned board-certified cosmetic dermatologist with over two and a half decades of experience providing some of the world’s most discerning men and women with the best non-invasive treatment options, including safe and effective skin-lightening products for hyperpigmentation and melasma.
Does skin lightening work?
Yes. Skin lightening creams, lotions, soaps, and powders contain chemicals that inhibit the production of the pigment melanin that occurs in skin cells called melanocytes. The various ingredients in skin-lightening products reduce the appearance of dark spots in different ways. Products containing hydroquinone reduce the number of melanocytes in the treatment area, reducing the concentration of melanin, leading to lighter skin. Some products contain vitamin C, an antioxidant that reduces melanin production in the melanocytes. Products containing glycolic acid or retinoids work by exfoliating the skin, which leads to skin cell turnover revealing lighter skin underneath. While skin-lightening products brighten the skin and achieve a more even skin tone, patients should consult a dermatologist before beginning skin bleaching treatment and follow all healthcare provider instructions.
What is skin-lightening cream used for?
When prescribed by a board-certified dermatologist, skin-lightening creams can be used to address several skin conditions, including:
- Dark spots, referred to as age spots/sunspots
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
- Imbalances in hormone levels that lead to pigmentation
Skin-lightening creams are best used to address hyperpigmentation or dark spots on the face and body.
Are skin-bleaching creams safe?
The skin-bleaching creams Dr. Green recommends are safe and effective for reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation and melasma. Dr. Green often recommends proven skin-lightening products containing ingredients such as vitamin C, tranexamic acid, kojic acid, hydroquinone, and retinoids to treat these skin conditions. It is important that patients follow the instructions for applying the skin-lightening products in their customized treatment plan to prevent unwanted side effects and attain the best cosmetic results. However, when skin bleaching cream is used to lighten the complexion across a large surface area of the skin for a prolonged time, there is a risk of encountering certain health problems. Health risks are particularly high for patients using products containing high mercury concentrations. Due to the prevalence of these products for purchase online or over the counter, it can be difficult for the US FDA to regulate these brightening cosmetic products. Skin bleaching products purchased online from abroad may contain dangerous levels of these chemicals and pose a serious health risk. As such, it is vitally important to read the ingredient list of any acquired skin-bleaching product (keeping in mind that mercury may be listed under other names, such as Mercurio or calomel), search for the product on fda.gov, or receive a prescription directly from a dermatologist.
Is skin whitening safe?
When you have skin-brightening cosmetic treatments with an experienced board-certified dermatologist, the result is an even-toned, radiant, healthy-looking complexion that lasts. However, there are some skin-whitening procedures and skin-bleaching products that can damage the skin if not used properly or used for an extended period of time. The risk of developing serious, lasting side effects increases when patients use products with high concentrations of hydroquinone, mercury, or corticosteroids on a large surface area for an extended period of time. Products acquired online or over the counter (especially when acquired outside the United States) pose an even greater risk as these skin-lightening products are not always thoroughly tested or FDA-approved. It is always recommended to consult with a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist regarding skin-lightening products or procedures to prevent unwanted side effects, guarantee safety and efficacy, and produce optimal results. Dr. Michele Green in NYC is a world-renowned board-certified cosmetic dermatologist with over 25 years of experience helping her patients from around the globe safely achieve and maintain a clear, radiant, even skin tone.
Will skin lightening cream fade scars?
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation refers to the dark spots left behind after an acne lesion, injury, or other inflammatory skin condition, such as eczema or psoriasis. Some of the skin cells associated with the natural-wound healing process of the skin are also involved with melanin production. Melanin is the component of skin responsible for pigment. When too much melanin is produced during the wound-healing process, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation results. Although this type of hyperpigmentation may fade on its own over time, it may take months or even years to resolve fully. Treating post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation with an experienced board-certified dermatologist like Dr. Green in NYC is much faster than waiting to resolve. Dr. Green may recommend various skin-lightening products or in-office procedures, such as a TCA peel, Mesopeel, or Cosmelan treatment, to reduce the pigment of the scars and restore an even skin tone.
Is there a safe way to bleach your skin?
The safest approach to correcting an uneven skin tone and reducing hyperpigmentation is to schedule a consultation with an experienced board-certified cosmetic dermatologist, such as New York City’s Dr. Michele Green. Skin-bleaching products that are over the counter are not guaranteed to be safe or effective. To protect your skin, guarantee optimal results, and prevent unwanted or dangerous side effects, it is always recommended to consult a dermatologist before incorporating a new skin-lightening product into your skincare regimen. Dr. Green recommends safe, proven skin-lightening products and treatment options to her patients seeking a radiant, even skin tone that lasts. Some of the most popularly recommended skin-lightening creams are detailed below:
Retin-A, also known as Tretinoin, is a topical derivative of Vitamin A that can improve skin tone and texture. Retin-A works by increasing the skin cell turnover rate, encouraging dead, discolored skin cells to slough away at an accelerated rate and revealing new, healthier skin cells that are more even in skin tone and texture. Retin-A provides noticeable brightening effects after approximately 3-4 months of consistent use. Retin-A increases the skin’s photosensitivity, and it is important to limit sun exposure and use appropriate sun protection while using this skincare product.
Hydroquinone is an active ingredient in many skin-lightening products that interferes with melanocyte activity to prevent melanin (pigment) production. Hydroquinone is not available over the counter, and patients must have a prescription from a board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Green, to obtain it. Like Retin-A, hydroquinone can increase photosensitivity, and limiting sun exposure to the treatment area is important. Combining hydroquinone and Retin-A can be an excellent approach to reducing hyperpigmentation. Using these skin-lightening products in conjunction provides optimal results because the retin-A exfoliates away superficial layers of dead skin cells, allowing the hydroquinone to penetrate the skin better to remove excess pigment.
Melantran3x concentrate and Melantran3x gel/cream by Mesoestetic are depigmenting skincare products that are safe and effective for lightening various types of dark spots. The Melantran3x skin-lightening products contain depigmenting ingredients such as tranexamic acid and kojic acid, which have been shown to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and create a more even skin tone. These skin-lightening products are safe for daily use and can be combined with many other brightening products to achieve and maintain an even-toned, radiant complexion.
It is critical to consult with an experienced board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Michele Green, before incorporating any skin-lightening products into your skincare routine. Dr. Green has over two and a half decades of experience providing her patients with the best non-invasive treatment options available, including skin-lightening creams for reducing hyperpigmentation and will work with you to develop a customized skincare protocol for treating your hyperpigmentation safely and effectively.
What is the safest skin-lightening product?
When you have your initial consultation with Dr. Green regarding hyperpigmentation, she will collect a thorough medical history and physically assess your skin condition to determine which unique combination of skin-lightening products and in-office cosmetic procedures best suits your needs and goals. Dr. Green is a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist with over two and a half decades of experience providing her patients with customized treatment plans to achieve and maintain their ideal cosmetic results and will work with you to develop a personalized protocol for treating your hyperpigmentation that includes safe and effective skin-lightening products appropriate for your skin tone and particular skin condition. You will also receive any pertinent aftercare information necessary to attain the best results.
Which skin-lightening cream is safe?
Your dermatologist prescribes the safest skin-lightening product for your skin tone and particular skin condition after a consultation and thorough examination of the treatment area. Your healthcare provider can prescribe safe and effective skin-lightening products containing active ingredients like tranexamic acid, kojic acid, retinoids, and hydroquinone. Always follow the recommended product application instructions to avoid unwanted side effects and guarantee optimal results. In addition to prescription-strength skin-lightening creams, Dr. Green can recommend the best complementary skin care products from her proprietary MGSKINLABs, including her three-step anti-aging regimen with Vitamin C serum, retinol, and hydrating sunscreen, for a healthy, radiant, even-toned complexion that lasts. In addition to MGSKINLABs, Dr. Green often recommends skincare products by Mesoestetic, a world leader in hyperpigmentation treatment options. Mesoestetic offers various skin-lightening products and non-invasive cosmetic procedures, such as the Cosmelan treatment and Mesopeel.
Melantran3x concentrate and Melantran3x gel/cream are depigmenting skincare products that are safe and effective for lightening various types of dark spots. The Melantran3x skin-lightening products contain depigmenting ingredients such as tranexamic acid and kojic acid, which have been shown to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and create a more even skin tone. These skin-lightening products are safe for daily use and can be combined with many other brightening products to achieve and maintain an even-toned, radiant complexion.
Retin-A, or Tretinoin, is a topical Vitamin A derivative that can improve skin tone and texture. Retin-A works by increasing the skin cell turnover rate, encouraging dead, discolored skin cells to slough away at an accelerated rate and revealing new, healthier skin cells that are more even in skin tone and texture. Retin-A provides noticeable brightening effects after approximately 3-4 months of consistent use. Retin-A increases the skin’s photosensitivity, and it is important to limit sun exposure and use appropriate sun protection while using this skincare product.
Hydroquinone is an active ingredient in many skin-lightening products that interferes with melanocyte activity to prevent melanin (pigment) production. Hydroquinone is not available over the counter, and patients must have a prescription from a board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Green, to obtain it. Like Retin-A, hydroquinone can increase photosensitivity, and limiting sun exposure to the treatment area is important.
Is underarm skin bleaching safe?
Underarm skin-lightening products and cosmetic procedures are safe when you have treatment with an experienced board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Green in NYC. Dark skin in the underarm area may be related to a negative reaction to deodorant, friction between the skin and clothing, shaving, build-up of dead skin cells, eczema, or acanthosis nigricans. The skin in the underarm area is particularly sensitive and may be easily irritated by harsh products, so it is especially important to consult with a healthcare professional regarding brightening the area.
In addition to certain skin-lightening products, Dr. Green often recommends Mesopeel treatments for patients with dark skin in the underarm area. Mesopeels are a specially formulated type of chemical peel that can address varying types of hyperpigmentation, fade the pigment, and decrease the activity of melanocytes. Mesopeels are designed to diminish the overall appearance of skin discoloration and dark spots in a gentle but efficient manner. Mesopeels are also popularly used to treat the undereye area, groin, inner thighs, and buttocks. Mesopeels produce new collagen and elastin through chemo-exfoliation, resulting in brighter, healthier-looking skin without downtime.
Is Kojie San soap safe?
Kojie San soap is a skin-lightening product with the active ingredient kojic acid, designed to exfoliate the skin and promote skin cell turnover. Kojic acid-based skin-lightening products, such as Kojie San soap, penetrate the skin’s dermal layers to destroy the pigmentation at the treatment site. The exfoliation caused by the kojic acid clears away the dead skin cells, debris, and pigmentation, making room for clearer, brighter skin. Patients dealing with acne find that kojic acid products can help to clear up acne breakouts, as the exfoliation helps to unclog pores and reduce excess oil on the skin. Kojic acid is safe for patients, but some common side effects that may occur include redness, irritation, rashes, itchiness, or discomfort. Kojic acid can make the skin more sensitive to the sun, meaning patients must be diligent in applying sunscreen to prevent further damage to the skin.
Is Porcelana cream safe?
In a 2022 news release, the FDA announced that Porcelena cream did not comply with FDA regulations and was unsafe for use. Porcelana used a 2% concentration of hydroquinone to lighten the skin in their day and night cream and was advertised for use in gradually fading sun spots, freckles, and acne scars. The FDA sent the distributing company a letter in April of 2022, ordering that the issues be addressed or to pull the product from the shelves. However, topical skin-lightening creams containing hydroquinone are safe and effective when used as instructed, and a board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Green in NYC, monitors treatment.
Porcelana was not the only skin-lightening cream patients lost over-the-counter access to. In fact, all skin-lightening creams containing hydroquinone have been banned from being sold over the counter by the FDA. The CARES Act that was signed into law in March 2020 (effective September 2020), which was primarily focused on COVID relief, also included new conditions for medications available over the counter. This law limits patient access to safe and effective skin-lightening creams containing hydroquinone over the counter, which now require a prescription from a board-certified dermatologist to obtain. This is a challenge for many patients that struggle with hyperpigmentation and can not access or afford an appointment with an experienced dermatologist. The FDA has since written warning letters to multiple companies that are selling over-the-counter skin-lightening creams containing hydroquinone, including Porcelana. It is now much more difficult for patients with hyperpigmentation to access safe, effective, and affordable skin-lightening creams.
Why is my skin not lightening?
While some initial results may be visible within days of skin-lightening creams, noticeable cosmetic effects of most skin-lightening creams typically develop after four weeks of consistent use. It can take several months to achieve the desired final results with a safe skin-lightening cream, and your treatment should be monitored by a certified healthcare professional, such as board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele Green in NYC. Dr. Green has over two and a half years of experience helping patients worldwide achieve and maintain a clear, radiant, even skin tone with safe and effective skin-lightening products and cosmetic procedures. A low concentration of active ingredients in skin-lightening creams can cause the product to be ineffective. Dr. Green can prescribe skin-lightening creams containing potent concentrations of proven active ingredients, such as hydroquinone, that are unavailable in over-the-counter products.
Many skin-lightening products can also increase the photosensitivity of the treatment area. It is imperative that patients adhere to the treatment protocol provided by Dr. Green to ensure their skin is appropriately protected while using skin-lightening products or undergoing a skin-brightening cosmetic procedure. Increased photosensitivity can make the treatment area more susceptible to UV damage, meaning that the areas of hyperpigmentation can worsen with sun exposure. When you consult with Dr. Green at her private dermatology office in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood, she will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan to suit your specific skin concerns and unique aesthetic goals.
Can skin lightening cream cause cancer?
Skin-lightening creams recommended by board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Michele Green are safe and effective topical treatments for improving skin tone. Hydroquinone is an active ingredient in many skin-lightening creams and is not classified as a carcinogen, nor does it cause cancer. However, using skin-lightening creams containing hydroquinone can lighten the skin, making you more susceptible to hyperpigmentation and sun damage. Dr. Green does not understate the importance of adequate sun protection and limiting sun exposure to the treatment area during and after skin-lightening treatments. When you consult with Dr. Green regarding skin-lightening products and non-invasive cosmetic procedures, you will receive all the pertinent aftercare information necessary to achieve and maintain ideal results without encountering unwanted or dangerous side effects.
Why some skin lightening is bad: the dangers of skin bleaching creams containing Mercury
Skin-lightening creams containing mercury can pose many health risks. As a heavy metal, exposure to even small amounts of mercury can lead to long-term side effects. While the FDA has decreed that any mercury-containing product must have less than one part per million, a 2014 study conducted in Minnesota found that more than 60% of skin-lightening products on the market contained mercury levels above that designation. Some products contained more than 10,000 ppm of mercury. While these products are illegal in the United States, patients should still exercise extreme caution when purchasing skin-bleaching products online as they are less closely regulated.
Mercury poisoning is a serious risk for patients using products containing concentrations of mercury over one part per million (ppm), and mercury exposure may cause side effects such as dizziness, numbness, tingling, headaches, and depression. More serious side effects may include confusion, blurred vision, trouble breathing, and muscle weakness. Using mercury-containing skincare products can also negatively impact the nervous system, damage the kidneys, cause headaches, lead to motor dysfunction, and more. Rather than risk encountering dangerous side effects by using dangerous skin bleaching creams, schedule a consultation with an experienced board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Green in NYC. Dr. Green has over two and a half decades of experience providing the best non-invasive cosmetic treatments available, including safe and effective skin-lightening products for a healthy, radiant, and even skin tone that lasts.
Is skin lightening safe?
Skin-lightening products and cosmetic procedures that are recommended by an experienced board-certified cosmetic dermatologist, such as Dr. Green, are safe and effective options for achieving and maintaining a healthy, radiant, even skin tone. Dr. Green often recommends skin-lightening products containing active ingredients like vitamin C, retinoids, hydroquinone, tranexamic acid, and kojic acid. Patients should use caution when using skin-lightening products that contain certain ingredients, such as mercury. When used incorrectly, there are some potential side effects to using common skin-lightening products such as hydroquinone and corticosteroids. Potential serious side effects of high-concentration hydroquinone products include rashes, skin irritation, and ochronosis. In this condition, permanent discoloration occurs on the skin, causing blue and black patches of skin. Ochronosis is more likely to occur due to the long-term use of hydroquinone across a wide surface area with repeated sun exposure. Corticosteroids, or topical steroids, can also pose health risks when used for a prolonged period. Steroids can be good for short-term use in decreasing melanin production at the treatment site. However, long-term use can lead to side effects such as steroid acne, dermatitis, skin irritation, scarring, and open sores. To prevent encountering unwanted and dangerous side effects, it is critical that all of the application instructions provided to you by Dr. Green are adhered to. When used properly, skin-lightening products are a safe and effective way to achieve and maintain a radiant, healthy, even skin tone.
How to get started with safe and effective skin-brightening skincare today
Using the right skin-lightening products can be a safe and effective way to reduce the appearance of various forms of hyperpigmentation, including melasma and dark spots. With many different skin-lightening products available over the counter and online, it can be difficult to know if what you are getting is appropriate for treating your skin tone and particular skin condition. To prevent unwanted side effects and guarantee the best results, it is always recommended to consult with an expert, such as board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele Green.
Dr. Michele Green is an internationally renowned board-certified cosmetic dermatologist with over two and a half decades of experience providing some of the world’s most discerning individuals with the best non-invasive cosmetic treatment options. She is consistently identified as one of NYC’s best dermatologists by Castle Connolly, Super Doctors, and New York Magazine for her dedication to her patients and expertise. Dr. Green is an expert at creating unique, individualized treatment plans for each patient, ensuring the best care for all. When you consult with Dr. Green at her private dermatology office in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood, she will work with you to create a customized treatment plan that incorporates a unique combination of in-office cosmetic procedures and specially formulated skin brightening products to help you achieve and maintain your ideal aesthetic results. To get started with your personalized plan for a radiant, healthy, even-toned complexion that lasts, schedule a consultation with Dr. Green by calling 212-535-3088 or contacting us online today.