Whitening: It’s More Then Just Fair Skin
Let us state from the start that we’re not trying to covert controversy by endorsing lighter skin colour to be superior to the darker varieties. Men and women spend thousands of Ringgit every year trying to perfect their skin tone – either via skin-whitening products or the latter through artificial tans. Some take shortcuts by opting for surgical procedures or expensive treatments for a desired look. But before settling for costly and often risky measures, you should also consider natural means, which offer equally effective, safer results.
Who’s Up for Skin Whitening?
There is a misconception that skin whitening is all about getting fairer. But many women, racial sentiments aside, want a radiant, spot-less complexion rather than pale, sickly looking skin. Looking radiant is not only healthy but also injects life and youth into your skin. Gone are the days where you applied lotions and creams that make you look ‘fairer’, at times, so fake. The new generation of whitening products assures more – they lighten, make your skin luminous, and add a host of benefits such as hydration, oil control and anti-ageing to make you the woman you want to be so.
Natural Whitening How To’s
Although there are well proven whitening products in the market, how about getting your hands on the natural alternatives suggested here. Unlike commercial products, natural ‘homemade’ ones may take some time to show results but the trade-off is you get extreme satisfaction concocting your own products and peace-of-mind when there are no harmful ingredients involved.
Exfoliate the skin regularly
Exfoliation removes dead skin at the outermost layer to reveal a brighter skin underneath. This is important because our old, dying skin cells are filled with keratin, creating a protective layer. As we age, the layer of dead cells tend to build up, creating a rough layer of skin making it look dull and dirty. However, since these cells serve an important protective function, it’s also important not to over-exfoliate. Hence, homemade natural exfoliation is a better alternative to restore your skin’s healthy, youthful glow. You can exfoliate by scrubbing. Here are some popular natural scrubs:
- One of the simplest is by simply combining a good amount of organic white sugar and extra virgin organic oil. Mix them into a paste and scrub.
- You can also combine fine natural salt and used coffee grounds with organic oil.
- Plain baking soda can also be mixed with water and made into a paste to exfoliate all over the face without letting it get into the eyes. The scrubs can also be used on other dead skin areas around the arms, elbows, ankles, heels and feet.
Apply whitening mask
Whitening mask helps to brighten the face (See our recipes below) once or twice weekly to get better results.
Wash with mild soap
Soap with natural whitening ingredients like papaya and black licorice helps. You need to look out for one that agrees with your skin.
Keep skin moisturised
Some skin-whitening ingredients, even though natural, can cause skin to dry-up. Hence, keep moisturising your skin with vitamin E oil and aloe vera daily.
Whitening for Skin Problems
Many women are getting more interested in getting rid of skin problems than achieving radiantly glowing skin. Acne can leave scars, sun can do much damage and cause age spots. Some home remedies are quite effective in offering relief.
Lemon juice has traditionally been a popular remedy for freckles and age spots. It has a mild bleaching effect upon the skin. Citric acid found in lemon can also exfoliate. To bleach the skin, wet a washcloth with the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon and apply the juice to the discoloured areas a few times daily. It’s advisable to allow lemon juice on the skin to dry before going under the sun. Be careful not to let lemon juice get into the eyes or cuts.
Lactic acid found in buttermilk is recommended for its exfoliating and cleansing properties. The fat in buttermilk is also soothing to the skin. To get an even tone, wash the skin twice daily with the buttermilk, and then rinse off with warm water.
Apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, buttermilk, castor oil, and dandelion sap are some popular home remedies to lighten skin and dark spots.
Homemade Whitening Masks
With some ingenuity you can make your own face masks with ingredients found right in your kitchen. Here are several simple, easy to make, inexpensive techniques for exfoliation. For home remedies to work, it is advised to do them frequently for better and faster results.
Honey & Almond Face Mask
- Mix 1 tsp of milk powder, 1 tsp of honey, 1 tsp of lemon juice, and ½ tsp of almond oil
- Apply on face and wash off after 10-15 minutes. This pack helps bring shine to the skin and also removes tan
Almond & Milk Face Mask
- Soak 4 almonds overnight. Grind into a fine paste using milk
- Apply on face and neck and leave it overnight. Wash with cold water in the morning
- Do this daily for 15 days, followed by twice a week
Milk & Lime Face Mask
- One tbsp of gram flour mixed with 2 tsp of raw milk and
- 2-3 drops of lime juice
- Apply this mixture and leave it for 15 minutes before washing off
- Repeat for 4 weeks and follow up with once a week
Oatmeal & Tomato Face Mask
- Mix oatmeal with curd and tomato juice and apply on the face
- Keep it on for 20 minutes and then wash it off with cold water
- It helps remove the tan and lightens the skin
Tomato Juice & Lime Face Mask
- Apply a mixture of grated tomato with 2-3 drops of lime juice on the face
- Leave it for 20 minutes before washing off. Do this twice a day for 15-20 days for best results
Mint Leaves Face Mask
- Apply a paste of fresh ground mint leaves and leave it for about 20 minutes
- Wash with cold water, continue for 15 days
Nothing Beats A Positive Lifestyle
Diet is so important, it ought to be emphasised yet again. You can purchase the most expensive creams and lotions available in the market but nothing can take the place of adhering to good diet habits and common sense to maintain, improve and achieve a radiant looking skin.
Water helps to flush toxins from your systems which can leave you looking pale and weary. Skin can become discoloured too. You would be surprised how effective drinking adequate amount of water is (about 1.9 litres) in giving your skin a healthy glow.
Fruits & Vegetables
Remember to include lots of these in your daily diet. Besides beating off free radicals that can create havoc in your system, they are also rich in fibre and help in aiding digestion, as a sluggish stomach can leave you looking dull.
Limit Yourself Under the Sun
Limit yourself from going under the sun but don’t avoid it altogether as it provides the important vitamin D. If you have to go under the sun for a prolonged time, use sunscreen lotion to protect your skin.
Toxins are expelled through sweat after exercise. It works your blood circulation thus supplying nutrients and oxygen to your skin. It’s just foolish in wanting to look flawless with nice looking skin without any form of exercise. Make it your daily habit.
There is no two way around it. If you don’t get enough sleep, at least 7 hours, you will soon look tired, which can instantaneously show on your skin.
Harmful Whitening Creams and Lotions
The list of skin whitening and bleaching creams and lotions could be long but as a pre-warning, here are some harmful ingredients that you should look out for. These ingredients are quite common in cheap, lower-end skin whitening products, but some cosmetic giants in the past have also snuck them into their products.
Hydroquinone has carcinogenic (cancer-causing) properties, is known to cause leukemia, liver damage and thyroid problems. Just 2 percent of this ingredient is enough to cause skin irritation, a burning sensation, and can even cause cancer. Some users have also experienced darker skin after stopping halfway. Hydroquinone interferes with the skin’s pigmentation process and increases the risk of skin cancer, and also linked to abnormal function of the adrenal glands, and blood diseases. It is present in over 200 skin lightening products sold in the US alone where a concentration of 2% in products and 4% when prescribed by dermatologists is still allowed.
Mercury, also known as mercurous chloride, has been used as a skin bleacher for years and was considered a strong, effective whitening agent ten to twenty years ago. Mercury is toxic and once it gets in the body, it is extremely difficult to flush out. It can embed in your cells and is known to damage the liver, cause mood swings, memory loss, nervous and gastrointestinal disorders, muscle weakness and kidney failure. Mercury is very harmful to the central nervous system, particularly the developing brain of a foetus and in young child. It can even lead to convulsions, coma, and death.
Steroids in any form is harmful and can lead to thinning of the skin, or stretch marks, associated with skin problems such as cellulites, contact eczema, bacterial and fungal infections, Cushing’s syndrome, acne, skin atrophy and pigmentation disorders. One well known steroid used in skin whitening cream is clobetasol – which when used for long period of time can cause weight gain, acne and infertility.
Instead of these harmful products applied to your skin, make a wise decision to stick to natural products you can source out on your own or from companies that truly care about you and that are not afraid of revealing all their ingredients. In the long run, beauty is important but it is worth nothing when your health is compromised.