In today’s body positivity era, there’s really no need to change the color of your skin. Despite this, many women (and men) continue to be drawn to skin bleaching—but not always for the reasons you’d think. Because while it’s true that your natural shade is fine as it is, anyone can benefit from a clearer, more radiant complexion.
Should You Bleach Your Skin?
What is bleaching?
Skin whitening, or commonly known as “bleaching”, is a treatment designed to give you a skin tone lighter than the one you currently have. Its ultimate goal is to not turn your skin into a completely different color, but to remove unwanted blemishes by stopping the production of melanin—the substance responsible for making your skin dark in the first place. In other words, acne scars and dark spots may face with bleaching; but they won’t help with inflammation and redness.
Is bleaching safe?
Of course, the word “bleaching” alone sounds pretty harsh, so it’s only fair to do your research. On Pretty Me’s discussion of Navarro’s Bleach Soap, beauty writer Sheena Dizon warns against certain commercial bleaching products that tend to contain harmful chemicals like mercury and ammonia. Not only can they cause irritation and burns, but they can lead to more harmful health problems like kidney impairment. This is why people are turning to the ones that contain ingredients such as papaya, honey, and lemon juice—which medical studies published on the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine attests to their natural ability to dissolve skin cells—in order to get results.
What else is it used for?
Bleaching isn’t just used for cosmetic purposes but for medical ones too. The National Eczema Association notes how bleach baths have improved the symptoms of eczema for some people, though must be follow safety protocols—such as never spending more than 15 minutes in the tub, diluting the bleach with water—less they expose themselves to potential risks.
Bleaching is also a common method in treating psoriasis, an immune-mediated disease that causes red, scaly patches to appear on one’s skin.
What are the risks involved?
Of course, people who are sensitive to bleach, as well as those who have skin or respiratory allergies like asthma should avoid it completely. Plus, its PhD are high enough that it stings with frequent use.
However, bleaching ingredients are incredibly effective in small doses. In fact, it may not be obvious, but plenty of your current skin care products such as Cetaphil’s moisturizing cream and Aveeno’s lotion solution contains a tiny bit of bleach powder. If you truly want to see your natural skin color, you only need to look at your underarms.
So, should you bleach you skin or not?
All in all, yes, bleaching is safe—but it’s up to you to know how sensitive your skin is, and what your objectives are. If all you want is younger-looking skin, for example, then there are other ways to achieve it other than bleaching. In fact, dermatologist Patricia Wexler explains how getting at least seven hours of quality sleep can greatly reduce your number of fine lines. Whatever your goal, make sure that you research, discern, and most importantly, contact a licensed professional before trying anything drastic.