If You Read This, You'll Never Bleach Your Skin Again !!!!!
Bleaching: Most Popular Yet The Most Harmful Practice
I’ve been planning to write an article on this topic for real long. There was a time I was so obsessed with such a topic that I prepared my MSc Biotechnology final project report based on the same. Well that too did well & it has a reason.
I’m from a country that is obsessed with light skin, whatever the reason may be but people, mostly women have been obsessively putting corrosive materials on their skin in the hope of looking beautiful for so long, yes in my country, India beauty equates to light skin. These days even men are as much into bleaching as women.
Unfortunately, most, almost 90% aren’t following a certain regimen advised by a qualified dermatologist, but doing whatever the local salon suggests them to with their little knowledge(?) for their business’ sake.
This blind trust has already ruined much. These days I rarely see a person with a ‘normal healthy’ skin. Most have severely damaged, discoloured, sometimes disfigured skin with bluish patches & deep scars. However, this made me take interest in the same topic.
As a young girl, I always had a dark skin because I was heavily tanned (I’ve inherited my overly photo-sensitive skin from my mum) & I always heard my peers advising me to go for a bleach, especially before festivities, parties etc. & I thank God that I didn’t feed on that crap.
Slowly as I grew up, I learnt a lot about skincare & after atleast 10 years from then, I’ve regained my natural skin colour, which is in fact lighter than most. It is so light that I’d be practically unrecognizable to those classmates who once suggested me bleaching. However, it took me years of ritualistic sunscreen application, chemical peeling, home remedies & spending a fortune on skincare products.
Please don’t assume that I did all these to get lighter skin, neither was I bothered by a tan. I liked my tanned self as much as I like this light skinned girl I see on the mirror; but it was curiosity at its best (maybe some amount of pressure subconsciously to fit in/or to look good) that I really wanted to see my true skin colour. But I never wanted to trade healthy skin for damaged lighter skin & I’m glad that I could stick to what I believed. So, today I’m going to point out my idea on why I think bleaching skin is not the very best option we have:
How safe is bleaching?
· Depends on what ingredients you’re using to bleach your skin. In India, there are ‘bleaching kits’ available & when people refer to bleach, they mostly refer to that. Bleaching technically means any procedure to lighten skin but here it mostly means those ‘kits’ coming in small packets.
However, these bleaching kits are neither regulated nor they care to mention the precautions & since they’re very affordable, they are widely used in inexpensive salon set ups & are preferred by people from all walks of life.
These are the most dangerous options of skin lightening so far, containing corrosive, harsh chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, sodium/calcium hypochlorite, dithionate etc. Unlike prescribed OTC ointments, these things mostly work by destroying melanocytes by oxidative damage, creating reactive oxygen species/superoxide ion to kill those cells.
These reactive oxygen species mediated killing is a popular mechanism of cell destruction employed by our immune system to kill invading microorganisms trapped inside a phagocyte, so you know it is that powerful & at the same time, the killing mechanism is quite indiscriminate in nature which means they not only kill ‘offending’ melanocytes but also other healthy cells & in the same process puts immense oxidative stress on your skin which in turn accelerates ageing.
These superoxide ions are the same free radicals we talk about. The only thing that can neutralize them is an anti-oxidant & that’s why you’d see how widely it is used in cosmetics & how widely it is talked about in product advertisements & marketing.
At the same time, in bleaching cream advertisements, they call it ‘the power of oxygen’; how ridiculous????? Just because we need oxygen for respiration, doesn’t mean it is good in all forms of it but this is exactly how marketers promote this dangerous thing; the same marketers who advocate usage of anti oxidants for healthy skin….how contradictory is that????
What are the adverse effects of bleach?
èThere are many serious adverse reactions of bleaching like;
· Immediate Damage: Forget about long term damage, chemical bleach like those mentioned above can do serious short term damage as much as a bottle of bathroom cleaner would do if put on your face. It immediately does some oxidative damage on your skin to kill the melanin containing cells which can result in inflammation, irritation, redness or atleast dryness.
· Hyperpigmentation:Although it is only seen on some individuals, bleaching can cause serious hyperpigmentation immediately which would require weeks of after-care to fix completely. This happens as a response to putting corrosive chemicals where the skin immunity system detects its presence as an unwelcome invasion & thus, to save itself, turns the melanin production on (actually it is a protective response); which is actually counterproductive.
· Bleaching DOES NOT lighten skin: Yes, unfortunately bleaching like this does not lighten skin but only the hair on skin is lightened which creates an optical illusion that makes the face look lighter but that too is temporary.
· Photo Sensitivity: Bleached skin is highly photo sensitive. There’s a funny instance I’d like to share. In many local salon set ups, I’ve seen putting bleach on people’s face in a room lit with natural sun light which is even more damaging. If the skin goes highly photo sensitive, in no time the effect of bleach will be reversed & the skin will turn even darker than before. To counteract this, very strict sun protection procedures shall be employed.
· Ageing:It is conventional wisdom that oxidative stress accelerates ageing. So more you go for bleaching sessions, earlier you’ll age. Also apart from the free radical damage, the dryness that results in from bleach will also speed up the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles.
I’ve bleached my skin. Is there any way I can reverse the damage?
If it’s not too late, there are ways to counteract the adverse effects of bleaching.
Since bleaching works by putting oxidative radicals on work, the only way to neutralize it is by employing anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C, Q10 etc.
Consider investing in a serum containing Vitamin C atleast 10%, Q10 etc. & apply this at night before applying a night cream. It should be applied only at night because these compounds are highly unstable & are prone to degradation upon sun exposure. Follow it with a nourishing night cream.
You can also DIY a vitamin C serum by simply mixing powdered vitamin C tablet (available in 500 mg. formulations) in distilled water but make it in small batches & refrigerate them (store it in an all tight glass container, away from sunlight). Shake well before use because the powder settles at the bottom. Check regularly for signs of degradation like, if it is degraded, the powder precipitate will look yellowish & they’ll coagulate.
Bleaching also predisposes you to massive sun-sensitivity. So get a broad spectrum sunscreen & apply it daily, even indoors & reapply every 2-3 hours or even more frequently if you’re sweating. Wear protective clothing when going out in the sun.
Is there any safe way of bleaching?
èWhile I personally believe, nothing can be this absolute to be labeled as ‘the harmless way’ but yes, there are safer ways with less adverse effects like those ointments prescribed by a qualified professional like:
· Arbutin:A hydroquinone derivative but is considered much safer from its former cousin; also found in nature in pears, mulberry extract etc. is the safest & the most powerful alternative of hydroquinone.
· AHA/BHA:Alpha & Beta Hydroxy Acids are keratolytes that promote the cell cycle turn over by mobilizing the upper, mostly dead & damaged skin cell layer to be replaced by a newer fresh layer of healthy skin cells. Glycolic Acid (usually 6-12%) is the most popular AHA & salicylic acid is the most popular BHA used widely in treating various skin conditions like acne, tan removal, severe dryness etc.
· Topical Retinoids: Tretinoin (.025-.05%), Adapalene (1%), Tazarotene are modern retinoids that act the same way as AHAs/BHAs. As an added advantage, they also work as penetration enhancers, meaning they facilitate better penetration of other topical products used along with it, enhancing its effect.
· Kojic Acid Dipalmitate: Often seen coupled with arbutin, in an ointment used to treat scars/hyperpigmentation, Kojic Acid Dipalmitate is safe, & stable compound with the power to stop tyrosinase (enzyme facilitating melanogenesis) from acting.
· Azelaic Acid: While some say, it’s as powerful as hydroquinone, at 10-20% concentration it really works well even if not as well as HQ, minus the side effects of hydroquinone. It is also a potent acne medicine.
The above compounds are the most popular ingredients that truly counteract hyperpigmentation. But please be aware, that the aim of bleaching (clinically) is to counteract abnormal pigmentation conditions like tanning, scars or post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, sun spots & NOT to lighten your skin tone because inherited skin colour cannot be changed.
However, also keep it in mind that the above products can also make your skin photo sensitive, so practice strict sun protection with frequent application of a broad spectrum sunscreen & wearing protective clothing.
But please be aware that the above information is not an alternative to proper medical guidance & is for educational purpose only as each case is unique. The publisher cannot be deemed liable for any loss at the user’s end as consequence of exercising the above. To know more about the policy, continueà https://thebeautyblogoflove.blogspot.com/p/privacy-policy.html
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Thank you for reading,