Why do people want to "lighten" their skin?
Do you find yourself bathing in the sun most of the summer, whether its spending a week at your favorite lake or your weekly beach trip?
Sun spots are very common and you're probably looking for a way to fade those unwanted freckles.
Also It turns out that as you age your skin starts to develop uneven skin color and uneven skin tone.
This largely has to do with the effect of aging on the skin, but the end result is that the face may look blotchy and discolored.
Skin lighteners provide a cosmetic way to even out the skin tone and bring back youthful looking skin!
Because of this effect skin lighteners have become incredibly powerful.
What is Hydroquinone?
Hydroquinone is a skin lightener used in many whitening creams and dark mark fade treatments. It reduces the production of melanin in your skin, so it is used for fading hyperpigmentation, acne scars, sun spots, melasma, and other skin discoloration issues.
Why is Hydroquinone Bad?
Without a doubt, hydroquinone is very effective for treating hyperpigmentation issues. However, its safety is also highly questionable.
The reason hydroquinone gets such a bad reputation is because studies have shown that hydroquinone has some carcinogenic effects when applied to skin. It is considered cytotoxic (toxic to cells) and mutagenic. Studies have also shown that long term hydroquinone use can cause exogenous ochronosis, which is when your skin turns a bluish and black color. Hydroquinone not only inhibits melanin production to help lighten skin, but long term use can actually damage your pigment cells.
Other possible side effects of hydroquinone use include:
- Increased exposure to UV radiation
- Sensitivity to sunlight
- Increased risks of getting hyperpigmentation
- Contact dermatitis and skin irritation
- Thick, leathery, and bumpy skin
Because hydroquinone decreases the melanin pigments in your skin, your skin becomes more sensitive to the sun. This increases UVA and UVB exposure, which in turn, increases the risk of getting more future hyperpigmentation, especially if you don't use a photostable, highly protective sunscreen at all times. Hydroquinone also turns toxic when exposed to sunlight, so if used, it should only be used as a spot treatment (not all over the face) at night.
Aside from exogenous ochronosis and sun sensitivity, long-term hydroquinone use is also known to cause skin to get thick, leathery, and bumpy. Short-term side effects of hydroquinone include redness, irritation, and contact dermatitis.
What is Arbutin, and why is it a safer option?
So what exactly is Arbutin?
To put it simply it is a special ingredient derived from Bearberry which naturally helps to reduce and lighten the color of your skin.
Arbutin is one of the best and safest ingredients to brighten up your skin without damaging side effects.
Arbutin works by inhibiting an enzyme found in melanocytes known as tyrosinase.
Melanocytes are the cells in your skin which confer pigment and coloring to your skin.
The interesting thing about melanocytes is that they work by increasing melanin production which provides tints or color gradients to the skin.
So if you can "turn down" the production of melanin in the melanocytes you can effectively lighten certain areas of the skin and reduce the overall pigment (even from what is normal for your body!).
Arbutin comes in two forms that you need to know about:
- Alpha Arbutin - This is the purest and most effective form of arbutin (especially when compared to beta arbutin). It's a powerful skin lightener and works on all skin types. Alpha arbutin is expensive to manufacture which is why usually only high quality products contain this ingredient. Watch our for cheap products which claim to contain "arbutin" but formulate it in the beta formulation. In addition Alpha arbutin is also more stable than Beta arbutin.
- Beta Arbutin - This form of arbutin is often referred to as just "arbutin" so if you don't see the ingredient list specifying the Alpha component then you can assume it's probably in the beta formulation. This formulation is cheaper to produce and manufacture and is not as effective as alpha arbutin. Newer skin products contain alpha arbutin while older cosmetic products contain either "beta arbutin" or simply "arbutin".
We at Aloe & Bloom only use the highest quality of Alpha Arbutin.
It's important to understand the basics of cosmetic ingredients and how they work because it should influence which products you want to purchase and buy.
Often times you may see two different products that are considerably different in price and you may not understand why - much of this has to do with how the products are made, manufactured and where the ingredients are coming from.
The more expensive products almost always work better because they contain the right formulations and right concentration of active ingredients.
This concept holds true for Arbutin!
Make sure that you purchase products that contain alpha arbutin instead of the other alternatives.
There is no doubt that Alpha Abrutin is a much better choice when choosing a lightening ingredient. Studies have shown Hydroquinone to be an extremely dangerous toxin.
It’s banned from over the counter sale in Europe, Japan, and other countries, but is still a common ingredient in the US. In short it’s an effective ingredient, however there are certain health risks associated with using it the most dangerous being cancer.
Alpha Arbutin is a much more costly ingredient to manufacture, even at low concentrations, which is why manufacturers still use the cheaper hydroquinone.
Alpha Arbutin works faster and more effectively than kojic acid (another commonly used skin lightener) and is every bit as effective as hydroquinone. It’s much less irritating to the skin than hydroquinone at similar or even greater doses.
This is good news because hydroquinone which is one of the most used and popular lighteners around is now considered unsafe for topical skin creams. You can now use this safer hydroquinone alternative.
Find Alpha Arbutin in Aloe & Bloom's