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Bad Impact of Skin Whitening

Bad Impact of Skin Whitening

Bad Impact of Skin Whitening or skin bleach, Always read the label printed to determine whether or not the ingredients contained in skin whitening are safe. White skin is often associated with beautiful and happy concepts. This myth makes many women compete to whiten their skin. Even though not a few whitening products on the market contain ingredients that are potentially harmful to health.

In 2013, the Food and Drug Supervisory Agency secured more than 74,000 units of cosmetic products containing hazardous materials and did not have marketing permits. In the same year, it was announced 17 cosmetic brands containing hazardous ingredients. Most of them are skin whitening products.

Melanin - Determine Skin Color

Like determining the color of hair and eyes, the color of human skin is also determined by the color and level of the pigment called melanin. Melanin levels in the skin are generally determined by a combination of hereditary factors and the level of sun exposure.

Skin that is often exposed to sunlight stimulates the production of melanin which then makes the skin darker. In other words, melanin is a natural sunscreen or a form of human skin adaptation to the natural conditions in which it is located.

The bad effects of ultraviolet are more preventable on dark skin because they contain lots of melanin. This is because melanin functions to absorb and eliminate the negative effects of ultraviolet from the surface of the skin. In the same level of sun exposure, white people are ten times more likely to get the disease because of the dangers of ultraviolet light such as skin cancer than people with dark skin.

Bad Impact of Skin Whitening
Bad Impact of Skin Whitening

Look at the Materials and Ways of Bleaching Products

The ingredients used in whitening products function to brighten the color of the skin by fighting the process of producing natural melanin so that the levels of melanin in the skin are reduced. With reduced levels of melanin, the skin color becomes whiter.

Each ingredient contains benefits and side effects. Some ingredients are categorized as dangerous because they cause a negative impact even though they are limited. While other ingredients can be tolerated so that the benefits are more dominant than the side effects.

Keep in mind, that in general skin whitening makes melanin production reduced, causing the skin to be more sensitive to sunlight. In the long term, its use can cause premature aging and skin cancer. With reduced levels of melanin, the impact of ultraviolet light on the skin increases. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet light accelerates wrinkles and has the potential to trigger skin cancer.

Risk Ingredients


Mercury is a metal that in normal conditions is a gray liquid that is odorless and insoluble in water and alcohol but soluble in nitric acid, hot sulfuric acid, and lipids.

Mercury is an active ingredient that has an effect on exfoliating the epidermis of the skin. In the long run, its use can be affected:

  • Damage to kidney function, nervous system, and psychological problems arise.
  • Abnormalities of brain function in the fetus of the mother using bleach made from mercury.


Hydroquinone is a chemical used in the washing process of photo printing and is useful as a stabilizer in oil, paint, varnish, and vehicle fuel.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that whitening products that are sold freely on the market may only contain a maximum hydroquinone level of up to 2%. While if this product is prescribed by a dermatologist, the maximum can only contain 4% hydroquinone. The use of hydroquinone above 4% can cause skin rashes due to burning.

Hydroquinone should only be used by professionals as a color oxidizing agent for hair dyes and nail polish.

The use of high-level or sustainable hydroquinone can trigger:

  • Hyperpigmentation, which is the darkening of skin color due to increased levels of melanin. Melasma or black spots are one example of a hyperpigmentation condition.
  • Vitiligo: the overall disappearance of skin pigment due to the death of melanocyte cells, producing melanin. The main characteristic of vitiligo is the appearance of white patches on the skin.
  • Exogenous oronosis: the skin becomes blackish blue. Generally caused by homogeneous acid buildup (alkaptonuria disease).


Steroids, sometimes called corticosteroids, are ingredients that are usually used to reduce inflammation, for example on skin that is red and itchy. If consumed in high levels or on an ongoing basis, this powerful steroid can cause cataracts and weakening of the bones.

Especially for the skin, the side effect of steroid use is thinning of the skin layer. If the skin becomes too thin, the person will be more easily scratched or injured. Steroids applied to the skin can be absorbed by the body and then enter the blood vessels. Other side effects are:

  • Telangiectasis: capillary blood vessels appear on the surface of the skin due to the thin layer of the skin.
  • Acne
  • Slow healing of wounds


Rhododenol is a natural chemical from the white birch bark which reduces melanin production. This material actually had been approved by the Japanese health agency and even used in some of the leading cosmetic company products in Japan. But this material has also been revoked by the Japanese government because it has proven to have a negative impact on health.

However, products that contain rhododenol and were sold in many countries have finally been withdrawn from the market since last July 2013. This withdrawal is based on reports from a number of consumers who complain of depigmentation or white patches on the skin.

Combination of hydroquinone, corticosteroids and retinoic acid

Corticosteroids and retinoic acid are commonly used in the treatment of several skin problems such as hyperpigmentation (black patches on the skin). But if mixed with hydroquinone, the product is considered unsafe. In the long term and excessive levels, its use can cause thinning of the skin and make the skin turn pink.

Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and its derivatives

Vitamin C whitens the skin by functioning as a powerful antioxidant that suppresses oxidation reactions in melanin synthesis. Vitamin C skin whitening is usually given as an injection. Although it is effective for brightening the skin, if given in high levels it can pose a risk:

  • Strengthens the work of the kidneys to trigger kidney failure
  • Causes kidney stones
  • Headache
  • Fainted

Vitamin C injections should be avoided by pregnant women because they can interfere with fetal growth.

Safe Ingredients

In general, many natural ingredients are safe and can help the skin whitening process. But even safe ingredients have the potential to have a bad impact if used in excess. For safety and health, users need to pay attention to the level of ingredients and how to use them safely.

The following are the ingredients contained in whitening products that are categorized as safe:

Kojic acid - This ingredient is produced from several types of fungi and is used in Japanese sake making processes. Kojic acid is safe. But irritation such as skin redness can occur in people with sensitive skin and if its use is done carelessly.

Arbutin - Bearberry plant extract which inhibits the action of tyrosinase, an enzyme that plays an important role in the formation of melanin. Long-term use of arbutin can cause several side effects including depigmentation or patches on the skin.

Loris extract - Plant extracts of a kind of legumes that inhibit the enzyme tyrosinase. Likoris is relatively safe. In the long run lycoris is absorbed by the body and can be at risk of triggering high blood pressure.

Chamomile Extract - Chamomile plant extract absorbs melanin pigment. This material should be shunned by people who are allergic to chamomile flowers such as daisy.

Mulberry Extract - Just like a loris extract, this ingredient inhibits tyrosinase activity and serves as an antidote to free radicals. The lack of data on the side effects of mulberry use in pregnant and lactating women makes this group should limit use.

Green tea extract - Inhibits melanosoma release from melanocytes to keratinocytes and reduces tyrosinase activity. So far, research has not proven the existence of side effects for the use of green tea extract by smearing it on the skin.

Alpha-MSH Antagonist - Useful for inhibiting the action of the tyrosinase enzyme and melanin production process. The side effects are not fully known.

Reducing the Risk of Harmful Substances in Skin Bleach

The following are some things that can be done to avoid the harmful effects of bleach made from dangerous substances:

  • Make sure the cosmetics you are going to buy are listed on an FDA registered cosmetics list.
  • Registered cosmetic products must include the distribution permit number. Whereas the products that are notified are not required to include a notification number but must include the name and address of the manufacturer on the label. The list of products that are notified can be seen here.
  • Always read the ingredient label on each skin whitening product package, including the method and dosage of use, composition, and expiration date.
  • Although the impact of the use of certain new products will be felt in the long term, there is nothing wrong for you to do cosmetic sensitivity tests in the following ways:
    • Apply the product to the plaster.
    • Stick the tape for 24 hours on the inside of the forearm.
    • Keep the plaster exposed to water.
    • Remove the tape and check whether the product reacts to the surface of your skin.

If the skin doesn't react badly, it's likely that the product is safe for you. But stop using if the skin becomes reddish, itchy, blistering, or painful. Consult the use of skin whitening products to the doctor before use, especially if you are pregnant.
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