If you have hypersensitive skin that seems to be irritated by even putting on your makeup too thickly, then lightening your skin probably seems out of the realms of possibilities. If you are incredibly sensitive to chemicals, almost all skin bleaching products on the market are packed full of them. The majority of those chemicals aren’t even lightly irritating either, they are serious stuff that can bother even normal skin.
However, the truth is that if you want to lighten your skin up a little, even if you have sensitive skin, you do have some options available to you.
Why Lighten Your Skin?
This isn’t Victorian England anymore. People aren’t powdering their face faces with lead or mercury anymore to get a disturbingly pale look. However, people are still lightening their skin for a variety of reasons.
Typically it is done to fix conditions like:
- Uneven skin pigmentation
- Acne blemishes and scarring
- Non-acne scarring
- Age spots
- Gray or brown spot skin discoloration
Possible Side Effects of Skin Lightening
When using traditional skin bleaching creams, the most commonly used and effective ingredient is hydroquinone. It is used in a number of psoriasis treatments, fading tattoos, and can be found in anti-age creams (to treat age spots).
The way it works is that it inhibits the creation of melanin in the skin that makes it dark. However, the problem is that it can irritate skin, but it actually has some unpleasant long-term side effects that include skin thickening, possible kidney, and liver damage, and is thought to cause cancer which is probably the reason it has been banned from products in Europe. I also know that is a particular problem for darker skinned ladies because if you use too much or use a product with too high of a concentration, it can make them look like Michael Jackson, and nobody wants to ruin a beautiful dark skin tone like that.
For those reasons and because sensitive skin, in particular, can react badly to it on the surface, it is best to find safer alternative skin lightening products or try your hand at natural skin lightening techniques.
Natural Skin Lightening Treatments You Can Try At Home
If you want to go the natural route, this primarily involves the use of food applied to the skin. I’ve said before that I’m are not a huge fan of putting food on your face because it looks silly, but it can be effective for lightening skin if used as a daily treatment.
Primarily found in dairy products, lactic acid is hugely beneficial for skin. Not only is it a light exfoliate (meaning nice smooth skin), but it actually has light bleaching properties as well. The easiest way to apply lactic acid to the skin is to use yogurt because it is thicker, so thus easier to apply and binds better to the skin.
The theory in this one is easy. You add the yogurt to your face or problem areas, let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove. Repeat this daily across several weeks to see an improvement in skin tone. You can also mix in a bit of honey which is another skin healthy ingredient that has great anti-bacterial properties to improve your overall complexion as well.
While you may find a number of variations of this, including one that includes lemon juice, if you have sensitive skin, it is best to forgo lemon. The acid is pretty strong and not only can it sting like a sonnuvabitch in open wounds, but it can also trigger your irritations and dry out your skin.
Oh, yes. The same thing you use to whiten your teeth can indeed be used to lighten your skin. However, unlike the old tooth whitening remedy, never use peroxide on your face. You are more likely to get dry skin from peroxide than lighter skin.
Instead, mix your baking soda with water (or better, milk) to create a paste. Apply to your skin, let it dry like a face mask, and then rinse off gently. Again, this does seem to work a little faster, but it needs to be done daily across multiple weeks for the best effect.
One little note is that baking soda doesn’t seem to do much for freckles or things like that, but it does help with skin darkening or acne scars. Essentially it doesn’t penetrate deeply but it works best for surface darkening.
If you want to get a lighter complexion, one of the best things you can do is exfoliate. However, most people take this advice too far to the extreme and end up irritating their skin by scrubbing too vigorously with an already abrasive exfoliate. If you have sensitive skin, this is something you can do with exfoliating products without even trying, which is why we need to use gentle ones.
Gram flour is one of the more gentle, but also effective exfoliate you can use. By mixing this flour with water (or milk!) to create a paste, you can gently rub it on your face, let it dry, and rinse off. As this absorbs excess oil and sebum from the skin, it is great if you have oily skin as well. However, as well as removing dead skin, and thus lightening it, it also tightens your skin as it dries, making it excellent for removing fine lines and lessening the appearance of wrinkles.
Sensitive Skin Safe Skin Lightening Products
The real issue with natural skin lightening home remedies is that they can take a while to work. This means daily applications over the course of weeks. It is pretty easy to not see results and to give up on it. If you are looking for a skin lightening alternative to the harsh chemical stuff, but still want it to have a little oomph behind it, there are a few products you can try.
It markets itself as the “#1 dark spot corrector,” and while I don’t know about that, it is pretty effective. This serum is used to treat dark spots including age spots, freckles, and liver spots on more than just your face. However, what makes this one of my very favorite skin lightening products is not just because of how well it works, but it does so without a lot of other chemicals.
You get a lot of skin-enriching ingredients like vitamin E, aloe, and ginseng, but you also get a lot of effective whitening extracts that are hard to make yourself at home like licorice, fennel, and anise. While not all ingredients are certified organic, quite a few are. A final note that I enjoy is that it includes willow bark extract which is used to make aspirin. This not only helps with inflammation but if you have breakout problems as well, willow bark can do wonders for it.
They also make a cream if you prefer the better coverage.
The thing about skin lightening products, especially ones without hydroquinone, is that they take more time to work. It is easier if you have a product that you just use every day without thinking about immediate lightening. Bar soaps used when you wash your face in the morning are some of the best products in that regard. I like the papaya soaps because papaya does have lightening and brightening properties, especially combined with kojic acid and aloe vera like in this bar soap. With added vitamins like B3, C, and E, this whitening soap is all-around healthy for your face, too. A final benefit is that because it is a bar soap, you can use it all over your body. So if you also want some lightening in other problem areas like your arm pits or your more intimate parts, this can help.
I enjoy this product because it is pretty much a natural home remedy mask, but all put together and neatly kept in a jar. It also uses ingredients that I have heard are great for skin lightening, but I don’t dare to use in my own home remedies – namely turmeric. It is great for inflammation and lightening, but having cooked with it, I know it can give food an orange color really quickly and I feared the same would happen to my skin. However, this mask probably should sooth my fears, because it doesn’t. Aside from turmeric, you also get licorice extract, rose and sandalwood (though I think that is more for scent), as well as skin-nourishing clay. If you want lighter skin AND a great face mask, this is a good pick.
I debated putting this on here, but I thought, what the heck? Although I have never used it myself, I have a niece that is just getting out of her acne years and she swears by this one for her treatment of acne scars. To be fair, it does seem to be pretty effective, but I don’t know if she is using other products in conjunction with it. There is a theory that activated charcoal does lighten skin (it also whitens teeth, too). However, I think a major benefit here is that it is an excellent exfoliate.