If you have hyperpigmentation, you’re not alone. Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, skin discoloration, scars from acne, melasma, and age spots are not only prevalent but notoriously difficult to remedy.
Many skin whitening creams claim to reduce the effects of hyperpigmentation, but a select few actually work. That’s because a lightening cream needs to do more than just lighten skin. It also has to control melanin levels.
A good lightening cream should do both without causing irritation or additional damage.
But more on that later…
In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of selecting the right skin whitening creams for your skin, complexion, and skincare goals, as well as take an in-depth look at the best lightening creams in 2021.
Table of Contents
Top 4 Lightening, Bleaching & Whitening Creams Reviewed (2021)
We’ll begin our guide by singling out a few of the best lightening creams to help you shop with a narrower net.
1. Zeta White
Lightening, Moisturizing, Dark Spots, Sun screen
2. Revitol Skin Brightener
+Sensitive +All types
Sensitive skin prone to outbreaks
Lightening, Melasma, Dark Spots, Sun Spots
4. Amaira Natural Lightening Serum
Brightening, Lightening, Exfoliation, Moisturizing
1. Zeta White (2021 Editor's Choice)
Zeta White is one of the best skin lightening creams on the market.
This reputable manufacturer specifically formulated this cream to reduce melanin production in the skin.
It is a three-point lightening system consisting of a lightening face wash, night cream, and a moisturizer.
Why Choose Zeta White?
Zeta White offers a comprehensive range of skin care benefits in addition to skin lightening.
The natural ingredients used are anti-inflammatory and protect against pollution and solar damage.
As a dark spot corrector, we consider Zeta White one of the best skin moisturizers for reducing scars from acne.
- Avocado oil
- Papaya extract
- Lemon extract
What Could Be Better?
Typically, the fewer steps a skin whitening skincare routine has, the more likely you are to stick with it.
Zeta White is an excellent one-stop skin care product. As it increases skin cell turnover, removes dead cells, and moisturizes, it is the ultimate skin rejuvenation and lightening solution.
2. Revitol Skin Brightener
Revitol, a prominent name when it comes to anti-wrinkle creams, now has a skin lightening cream as well.
This product contains a unique formulation to lighten liver spots and dark patches, resulting in an even skin tone.
Why Choose Revitol?
Revitol Skin Brightener is 100% natural, making it ideal for people who have sensitive skin or allergies.
It also offers a wide range of benefits for your skin in addition to lightening and is rich in vitamin C and other minerals that moisturize and protect your skin.
- Shea butter
What Could Be Better?
Lumiskin contributes to a lighter and even skin tone, but they take longer than other elements to work.
Revitol Skin Brightener is an excellent lightening serum for those with sensitivity in their skin.
- Kojic acid
- Bearberry extract
- Emblica fruit extract
What Could Be Better?
One drawback of Meladerm is that those with sensitive or dry skin may see an increase in peeling or acne when they start using the product.
Meladerm is most effective for sunspots and melasma. The natural, mineral-rich formula also contributes to the overall well-being of your skin.
4. Amaira Natural Lightening Serum
Amaira’s Lightening Serum is a natural, plant-based lightening solution. It’s proven to quickly and safely lighten skin if applied regularly.
Why Choose Amaira?
It is made in an FDA-licensed facility and ideal if you need one of the best skin lightening creams free of any harmful contaminants like hydroquinone sulfate sulfoxide nitrates, parabens among others.
- Field Dock extract
- Mulberry Leaf
- Kojic acid
- Irish moss
What Could Be Better?
Some people have complained about the packaging, but the results are what matter.
The Amaira Natural Lightening Serum produces skin whitening results fast and is also effective for acne scars and spots. It’s a solid choice if you don’t mind using a separate sunblocker. User comments and reviews are mostly positive.
Our 2021 Buyer's Guide To Permanent Fairness And Glow:
How To Choose The Right Skin Whitening Cream
Everyone’s skincare requirements are unique, and the specific type of hyperpigmentation as well as your skin tone also need to be considered.
Here are just some of our recommendations on what to look out for.
Dark, Brown, or Black Skin
If you have a dark, brown, or black skin, you have to select a formula that corrects spots and hyperpigmentation without using whitening additives.
The best products for women with darker skin will have an alpha-and-beta-arbutin combination (1).
Glycolic acid is also a must-have ingredient to give your skin a natural, healthy appearance.
The best lightening cream ingredients to prevent pigmentation in Asian skin (especially chinese or thai) include Emblica fruit extract, bearberry extract, and kojic acid (2).
Which Of The Following Skin Types Are You?
If you have “normal” skin and have no problems when you wear makeup, natural lighteners such as lumiskin will be suitable in a whitening cream for these skin types (3).
Because whiteners tend to be abrasive, if your skin is sensitive, select a product with a formula that focuses primarily on promoting the well-being of the skin as anything too strong can cause skin injury.
If your face is oily in some areas (e.g. forehead or nose) and dry in others, selecting an appropriate lightening cream can be a challenge.
We recommend that you consider a purely anti-inflammatory product that reduces the production of melanin.
If you regularly experience itching, cracking, and scaling, you may have dry skin. This skin is highly susceptible to damage with whitening treatments.
To prevent dryness and irritation, select a cream with a natural whitener such as allantoin as well as moisturizing compounds such as shea butter.
If your skin has a shiny appearance or you struggle with blackheads (you’ll know if you wear makeup), use a skin lightener that includes moisturizing compounds such as shea butter.
Shea butter and papaya extract are ideal for oily skin types.
What Do You Want to Lighten?
Facial hyperpigmentation is usually the result of sun exposure that increases melanin production.
When looking for a product to prevent facial hyperpigmentation, look for those that remove dead skin cells (exfoliate) and moisturize. Check out the best face whitening cream above.
To prevent melanin production, you can select a more robust formula with one or more skin whitening ingredients.
Serums that contain exfoliators are also ideal for body skin lightening creams (5, 6).
What’s Your Skin Care Goal?
1. Become fair / become a few shades lighter
If you want to lighten your skin a few shades, select a cream that contains Lumiskin.
Along with Lumiskin, aim for skin lightening creams that also contain glycolic acid to remove the outer layer of dead skin cells.
2. Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation / dark patches / melasma / age spots
When it comes to targeting specific areas, arbutin is the best option, a powerful antioxidant and bearberry plant extract.
In essence, this ingredient inhibits melanin production, removing dark spots and dark patches caused by sun damage in the process.
3. Acne scars
If your skin has prominent acne scars, select a cream that contains kojic acid.
This ingredient inhibits the formation of tyrosine and has prominent antimicrobial properties.
Because it kills common types of bacterial strains, it not only treats acne but also lightens acne scars and treats fungal infections.
4. Sun damage
If you need a whitening cream to treat or prevent skin injury and sun damage from harmful UV rays, select one that contains vitamin C.
Applying anti-oxidants such as vitamin C to your skin will combat UV damage from sun exposure, protect your skin, and slow the aging process.
A combination of allantoin and lumiskin in skin lightening creams can effectively reduce the appearance of a birthmark.
6. Uneven skin tones
If your skincare goal is to achieve an even skin tone, select a skin lightening serum that contains glycolic acid.
This excellent exfoliator penetrates the skin deeply to loosen and remove dead skin cells (7).
Check the additives on the label
Commonly Used Skin Lightening Ingredients
All whitening products contain a variety of ingredients that inhibit the production of melanin in one way or the other.
The most common elements include kojic acid, vitamin C, glutathione, niacinamide, and azelaic acid.
Hydroquinone is a whitening skin agent used to lighten darkened skin (8). Anything over a 2% concentration is forbidden and banned by the FDA. We do not recommend the use of harsh chemicals.
Checking for this ingredient is crucial as it can cause skin dryness, redness, blisters, cracking, bleeding, or even skin discoloration.
Arbutin is a natural alternative to hydroquinone that doesn’t cause these adverse effects.
Natural Skin Lighteners
Natural ingredients in serums for even skin tones and the elimination of age spots or a dark spot include kojic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, lemons, jojoba oil extracts, allantoin, mulberry extract, aloe vera, licorice roots, salicylic acid, and lumiskin.
Creams with Organic Ingredients
Many people often use the terms “natural” and “organic” interchangeably (9). A natural serum doesn’t contain synthetic products.
Safe Skin Lightening Products
To ensure that the serum you want to use is safe, check the first five elements on the content list.
The following harsh chemicals and compounds are not recommended (10):
Truth is when you apply lighteners to your skin, you become more susceptible to deterioration from sun exposure (11).
If the serum doesn’t have a protective component, make sure that you can use the cream with another sunblocker.
When it comes to creams, you can expect a correlation between value and cost on the market.
While you don’t need the most expensive skin care products to get rid of hyperpigmentation, be leery of low price tags.
Focus on lightening products that are organic with ingredients that include vitamin C, kojic acid, or shea butter.
Where to Buy Skin Lightening Products
The best place to purchase a skin lightening product is online.
Stick to approved vendors to ensure that you don’t end up with a knock-off or expired serum.
Where You Live
Unfortunately, not all products are available in all locations in the world. Access to them will then prove difficult.
While this is a bigger factor when it comes to prescription options, such as Musely or Curology, it also applies to some over-the-counter products.
Countries where you can get great brightening products include:
- European Countries
- United Kingdom
- United States
- Other English-speaking Countries
Lightening vs. Brightening vs. Whitening vs. Bleaching
In the pursuit of even, clear, and radiant skin without dark spots, you may inevitably encounter terms such as skin whitening, brightening, and bleaching, and may wonder what the difference is, and what each approach entails.
What Exactly Determines Your Complexion?
Research has shown that the gene called SLC24A5 (12) is the primary determinant of skin coloration.
This gene produces a protein called NCKX5.
Generally speaking, the lower NCKX5 in melanocytes, the lower the melanin production in the skin cells, and the lighter the skin tone.
How does skin lightening work?
Melanin production darkens the skin cells.
If you lighten with a serum or other cream, you reduce the production of melanin in a dark spot.
The best products for this treatment include kojic acid and vitamin C (13).
For a quick rundown, watch the video below.
How skin brightening works
Brightening, unlike lightening, gives you that glowy vibrancy by removing dead skin cells.
The best ingredients for brightening include antioxidants like vitamin C, or retinol (vitamin A), and hydroxy acids (both alpha- and lipo-hydroxy acid) (14).
How does skin whitening work?
Skin whitening also involves reducing the creation of melanin, but to a much higher degree.
Because using skin whitening creams is relatively severe (15), it may not be ideal for people with other skin conditions or sensitivities.
How skin bleaching works
In essence, it is the same as skin whitening and involves a drastic reduction in the creation of melanin.
Risks, dangers and side effects of skin lighteners
Side effects of using skin bleach typically include redness and swelling, a stinging sensation, and flaky or itchy skin.
DIY Skin Lightening At Home
The products we’ve discussed here are suitable for home use with no risk of side effects.
If you administer a whitening treatment at home, follow the instructions carefully to ensure optimal results.
Skin Whitening, Lightening & Brightening Q&A
What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is a harmless condition characterized by excessive melanin production. It often presents as dark spots or patches of skin.
What is hydroquinone?
Hydroquinone is an organic derivative of benzine and a skin-whitening agent most commonly seen in prescription skin whitening products. It is banned in some countries and may pose health risks. Some hydroquinone alternatives include mequinol, retinoids, azelaic acid, and kojic acid.
Is skin lightening permanent?
Skin-lightening creams are not a permanent solution, as they don’t stop your body from producing melanin. Once you stop using them, your dark spots may reappear. However, the cause of the hyperpigmentation can also play a role.
For example, dark spots as a result of acne or from hormonal issues may not come back if the underlying condition is resolved, and sun spots may not reappear if you are diligent with sunscreen use.
Do skin lightening creams really work?
Yes, some skin lightening creams really work, provided that you use a high-quality serum, and you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. However, the cream you use, your skin tone, the cause of the spots, and the type of dark skin you are treating may play a factor in your results.
How can I lighten my skin fast?
In general, lightening and reducing melanin production is not a fast process. A cream with more potent ingredients may work faster, potentially in as little as a few weeks, but you will not see results overnight. The best way to speed things along is to be consistent with your routine.
Can you change your skin color permanently?
No, it is not possible to permanently change your natural skin color with a whitening or brightening agent. Whitening creams work for uneven tone, dark spots, and hyperpigmentation only. Melanin production plays a role.
How can I lighten my inner thighs and underarms?
Applying a lightener should be sufficient to lighten your inner thighs and underarms. A consistent application may be necessary to achieve long-term results.
What is the best skin lightening cream?
All the whitening products we’ve discussed here are highly effective, and the best option for you will depend on factors unique to you, but if we had to name a single cream as “best,” we would recommend you use Zeta White. Revitol is a close runner up.
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