Best Skin Lightening Cream For Fairness: Permanent Whitening and Bleaching Of Your Face & Body.

If you have hyperpigmentation, you’re not alone. Post-inflammatory marks, skin discoloration, acne scars, melasma, and age spots are not only prevalent but notoriously difficult to remedy. 

Many products 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 skin 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 product for your skin type, complexion, and skincare goals, as well as take an in-depth look at the best skin lightening cream products in 2020.

Table of Contents

Top 4 Skin Lightening, Bleaching & Whitening Creams Reviewed (2020)

If you’ve tried lightening serums without success in the past, you’re likely aware there is a veritable sea of options to choose from.

We’ll begin our guide by singling out a few of the best skin lightening creams to help you shop with a narrower net.

Product

Design

Use for

Skin Type

Speed

Price

Rating

Best for

1. Zeta White

(Editor's Choice)

Lightening, Moisturizing, Dark Spots, Sun screen

+All types

++

$$

Complete package

2. Revitol Skin Brightener

Brightening, Lightening

+Sensitive +All types

+

$

Sensitive skin prone to outbreaks

3. Meladerm

Lightening, Melasma, Dark Spots, Sun Spots

-Sensitive
-Dry

+++

$

Best value

4. ASDM Beverly Hills Skin Brightening Kit

Brightening, Lightening, Exfoliation, Moisturizing

+All types

+++

$$

Fast results

1. Zeta White (2020 Editor's Choice)

Zeta White is a skin lightening and moisturizing cream from Helpful Cosmetics Ltd in the UK.

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 acne scars.

Active Ingredients

  • Avocado oil

    Avocado oil is one of the best ways to moisturize skin in existence and offers protection against the sun's harmful UV rays to boot.

  • Papaya extract

    A moisturizer rich in vitamins and papain, an enzyme and exfoliant that also contains alpha-hydroxy acids, papaya extract removes dead skin cells and improves skin tone.

  • Lemon extract

    In addition to lightening properties, lemon extract prevents acne by inhibiting the production of sebum.

What Could Be Better?

We would have preferred a stand-alone skin light cream—one product rather than three.

Typically, the fewer steps a skin whitening skincare routine has, the more likely you are to stick with it.

Pros

  • Promotes overall skin well-being

  • All-natural and safe to use

  • Serves as a sunblocker, moisturizer, and whitening cream

  • Suitable for sensitive or dry skin

Cons

  • Multi-step system

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 pigmentation, resulting in an even skin tone.

Revitol Skin Brightener is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and moisturizing agents to give your skin a healthy appearance.

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.

Active Ingredients

  • allantoin
    Allantoin

    This extract of the comfrey plant is a natural moisturizer that softens and soothes skin while killing harmful microbes.

  • Lumiskin

    The primary skin lightening ingredient in Revitol Skin Brightener, lumiskin, reduces melanin production to provide an even complexion.

  • Shea butter

    As a common skincare ingredient, shea butter is a rich moisturizer and a natural sunscreen.

  • arbutin
    Arbutin

    It reduces free radicals, dark spots, and wrinkles.

What Could Be Better?

Revitol is a gentle dark spot corrector, and therefore, is a little slower to show results. It’s perfect for you if you’re patient and value longterm results.

Lumiskin contributes to a lighter and even skin tone, but they take longer than elements such as kojic acid to work.

Pros

  • Helps protect your skin barrier during lightening

  • Suitable for skin with sensitivity and can alleviate redness

  • 100% natural

  • Protects against skin deterioration from the sun

Cons

  • Slow acting formula

Revitol Skin Brightening Cream is an excellent lightening serum for those with sensitivity in their skin. It has restorative properties and is very gentle on the skin.

3. Meladerm

Meladerm by Civant Skin Care treats hyperpigmentation long term by slowing the conversion of tyrosine to melanin.

This FDA-approved product is ideal for facial skin, but you can use it elsewhere as well, such as dark elbows or knees.

Why Choose Meladerm?

Meladerm is highly effective as a skin lightener and dark spot corrector with multiple lightening ingredients that work together.

It also contains vitamins and minerals to support general skin health.

Active Ingredients

  • kojic acid
    Kojic acid

    The most prominent ingredient, kojic acid, lightens age spots, scars, and visible solar damage. Kojic acid also has an anti-aging effect and antimicrobial properties to kill bacteria.

  • arbutin
    Bearberry extract

    Bearberry is an enzyme that inhibits melanin production. The outcome is a lighter and whiter skin tone.

  • Emblica fruit extract

    Emblica is a long-lasting and broad-spectrum antioxidant that protects skin from deterioration from the sun, and free radicals.

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.

Adjusting to Meladerm may take a few weeks. If you see these side-effects, try applying the product every other day. If flare-ups continue, stop using the product.

Pros

  • High-quality with a regulated manufacturing process

  • No mercury or hydroquinone

  • 30-day money-back guarantee for new customers

  • Multiple skin lightening ingredients increase effectiveness

Cons

  • Might not be suitable for all skin types

Meladerm is most effective for sunspots and melasma. The natural, mineral-rich formula also contributes to the overall well-being of your skin.

4. ASDM Beverly Hills Skin Brightening Kit with Alpha Arbutin

The ASDM Beverly Hills Lightening collection combines lightening, exfoliation, and moisturizing elements to provide you optimal skincare value.

Because of this line’s comprehensive range of skin health properties, you can use it as a replacement for other exfoliators or moisturizing creams.

The ingredients in this collection are natural and suitable for all skin types.

Why Choose ASDM Beverly Hills?

The ASDM Beverly Hills Skin Brightening Kit is ideal if you need a skin lightening cream with prominent exfoliating properties.

It is also rich in vitamin C, which contributes to its lightening capabilities while repairing free radical damage.

Active Ingredients

  • arbutin
    Alpha & Beta Arbutin

    As a naturally occurring alternative to synthetic hydroquinone, it is a highly effective treatment for uneven skin tone.

  • glycolic acid
    Glycolic acid

    The primary exfoliant in this collection is glycolic acid, which effectively removes the outer layer of dead skin cells to reveal a bright, sound-looking skin.

  • lactic acid
    Lactic acid

    Lactic acid exfoliates your skin, lightens dark spots, and removes wrinkles and fine lines. It works in congruence with the other elements to improve their efficiency.

What Could Be Better?

This cream doesn’t offer optimal protection against solar damage and contains alpha hydroxy acid (aha) that increases your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.

If you spend time outdoors, you have to use this product with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

Pros

  • Natural ingredients that are effective skin brighteners

  • Suitable for all skin types

  • Achieves fast and long-term skin lightening results

  • The cream is not only a skin lightener but also an exfoliator and moisturizer

Cons

  • Increases the skin's susceptibility to UV ray damage

The ASDM Beverly Hills Skin Brightening Collection produces skin whitening results fast and is also effective for acne scars and dark spots. It’s a solid choice if you don’t mind using a separate sunblocker. User comments and reviews are mostly positive.

Our 2020 Buyer's Guide To Permanent Fairness And Glow:
How To Choose The Right Skin Whitening Cream

When selecting a whitening serum, there are several factors to consider.

Everyone’s skincare requirements are unique, and the specific type of hyperpigmentation, your skin tone, and skin type also need to be considered.

While we won’t cover every complexion and skin type below, we will touch on those that will have a noteworthy effect on the treatment of hyperpigmentation. 

I think we know a thing or two about skin lightening. So here are just some of our recommendations on what to look out for.

Skin Complexion 

Dark, Brown, or Black Skin 

If you have a dark, brown, or black skin, you have to select a formula that corrects dark spots and hyperpigmentation without using whitening additives.

The best skin lightening products for women with darker skin will have an alpha-and-beta-arb-utin combination (1).

Glycolic acid is also a must-have ingredient to give your skin a natural, healthy appearance.

Asian Skin 

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).

Moisturizing compounds, such as shea butter, will also give your skin a healthy glow. 

Does It Fit Your Skin Type?

 

Normal Skin 

If you have “normal” skin, meaning you don’t have issues with dryness, acne, oiliness, or sensitivity, choosing between different serums is easy.

You also don’t have to worry about the effect of excessive sebum production after application.

Natural lighteners such as kojic acid or lumiskin will be suitable in a whitening cream for this skin type (3). 

Sensitive Skin 

If your skin is sensitive, you may be prone to rashes, irritation, dry patches, and itchiness.

Because whiteners tend to be abrasive, select a product with a formula that focuses primarily on promoting the well-being of the skin.

These products will take a longer time to show results but are far gentler on your skin. 

Combination Skin 

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.

Elements such as papaya extract and avocado oil are ideal for lightening combination skin. 

Dry Skin 

If you regularly experience itching, cracking, and scaling, you may have dry skin. This skin type 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. 

Oily Skin 

If your skin has a shiny appearance or you struggle with blackheads, use a skin lightener that includes moisturizing compounds such as shea butter.

Moisturizing your skin helps to reduce sebum production and will give your skin a smooth texture.

Shea butter and papaya extract are ideal for oily skin types

Gender

  • Women

    Women are more likely to experience hyperpigmentation than men due to hormonal factors, though not all pigment is hormonal.

    Limiting solar exposure and selecting products with natural compounds is recommended for the woman who wants to reduce hyperpigmentation.

  • Men

    The most significant risk factors for hyperpigmentation in men are solar exposure and inflammation.

    If you are a man who is looking for the best skin lightening cream, consider one that contains a natural sunblocker.

    You may also want to select a formula that is suitable for your entire body and not only your face (4). 

What Do You Want to Lighten? 

Face 

Facial hyperpigmentation is usually the result of sun exposure.

Your facial skin is also more sensitive than the skin of, say, your forearms or legs.

When looking for a product to prevent facial hyperpigmentation, look for those that exfoliate and moisturize.

Ideally, the cream should also contain elements that protect against the sun. 

Body 

Hyperpigmentation and blemishes elsewhere on your body (e.g. hands and neck) may be the result of several factors, including hormonal changes, birthmarks, or pregnancy.

To prevent the production of melanin, 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). 

model with freckles on cheeks

What’s Your Skin Care Goal? 

image of three women wearing makeup

1. Become fair / become a few shades lighter 

If you want to lighten your skin a few shades, select a cream that contains Lumiskin.

This ingredient is a tyrosinase inhibitor (inhibits its production), a hormone that darkens skin pigmentation.

Along with Lumiskin, aim for skin lightening creams that also contain glycolic acid to remove the outer layer of dead skin cells. 

2. Hyperpigmentation / dark spots / melasma / age spots 

When it comes to targeting specific areas, arbutin is the best option, a powerful antioxidant and bearberry plant extract.

It plays the same role as hydroquinone, but it doesn’t have any of the same negative side effects.

In essence, this ingredient inhibits the pathway that produces pigmentation, removing dark spots and dark circles 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 kojic acid 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 damage from UV rays, select one that contains vitamin C.

Exposure to UV light, getting a tan, and other environmental aggressors leads to oxidative stress.

Applying anti-oxidants such as vitamin C to your skin will combat UV damage, protect your skin, and slow the aging process.

5. Birthmarks 

A birthmark is an accumulation of melanocyte cells (melanosomes in animals) and may require laser treatment to fade or remove altogether.

However, a combination of allantoin and lumiskin in skin lightening creams can effectively reduce the appearance of a birthmark.

For long-lasting results, apply the cream containing these elements at least twice per day. 

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.

Because of glycolic acid’s exfoliation properties, it increases cell turnover to promote skin health and get rid of uneven skin (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.

Manufacturers may include one of these elements or a combination, depending on the skin conditions they are targeting.

The most common elements include kojic acid, vitamin C, glutathione, niacinamide, and azelaic acid.

Hydroquinone 

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 its use.

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.

These products differ in terms of the mechanism and offer unique health benefits. 

Organic Skin Brightening Creams 

Many people often use the terms “natural” and “organic” interchangeably (9). A natural serum doesn’t contain synthetic products.

For a cream to be organic, however, it has to pass rigorous standards for purity and may not contain petroleum fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, or sewage sludge fertilizers.

The natural label doesn’t require the same extensive testing and compliance with regulatory standards. 

Safe Skin Lightening Products

As seen in the news, natural skincare ingredients are not necessarily safe for application.

To ensure that the serum you want to use is safe, check the first five elements on the content list.

The following chemicals and compounds are not recommended (10):

Sunscreen Compatibility

Truth is when you apply lighteners to your skin, you become more susceptible to deterioration from solar UV rays (11).

To counteract this increase in photosensitivity, many companies include sunblockers in the ingredients.

However, if the serum doesn’t have a protective component, make sure that you can use the cream with another sunblocker.

Price

It’s not science. No one wants to spend more than necessary on skincare—or anything for that matter.

However, when it comes to creams, you can expect a correlation between value and cost on the market.

A lot of the cheap brands typically include synthetic ingredients to lower their production costs, which can be harmful to your skin.

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.

The brand should also be a reputable provider of approved serums.

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.

You can determine if a vendor is legit by reading online reviews, checking for certificates, and verifying the address and contact details on the seller’s website.

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.

At the least, you can expect higher shipping charges if you are outside the country of origin for the products you choose.

Remember to factor in shipping costs when making your decision.

Countries where you can get great skin brightening products include:

  • Canada
  • European Countries
  • India
  • Japan
  • Nigeria
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Other English-speaking Countries

Skin 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.

To understand what these terms mean, it’s best to start where hyperpigmentation does, your skin.

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, which exchanges sodium for calcium across a membrane.

It isn’t present on the cell surface like other NCKX proteins, but internally in the trans-Golgi network.

Generally speaking, the lower NCKX5 in melanocytes, the lower the production of melanin, and the lighter the skin tone.

How does skin lightening work?

Melanin darkens the skin.

There are several causes of an increase in the production of melanin, and it can take place locally.

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.

This treatment doesn’t address us producing melanin, but rather the overall soundness of our skin.

The best ingredients for brightening include antioxidants like vitamin C, or retinol (vitamin A), and hydroxy acids (both alpha- and lipo-hydroxy acid) (14).

Many serums lighten as well as restore vibrancy to give your face and body a brighter appearance. 

How does skin whitening work?

Skin whitening also involves reducing the creation of melanin, but to a much higher degree.

The whitening process is not gradual, and the results of this treatment are much more evident in a shorter time.

Because skin whitening 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.

This term was more common in the 1980s but is used less frequently in our life these days.

When a product description refers to this, it is usually the same as whitening.

However, be careful not to confuse skin bleaching products with body hair whitening options.

These are sometimes marketed towards women with upper lip melasma looking to lose that “mustache” look. 

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.

During application, there are a few ways you can mitigate the risk of side effects of skin lighteners:

DIY Skin Lightening At Home

If you need a whitening or brightening skin treatment, you don’t have to go to a dermatologist.

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, skin lightening 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 skin tone, dark spots, and hyperpigmentation only.

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.

References

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Debra Jaliman, MD, What’s Your Skin Type?, retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/beauty/whats-your-skin-type

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Sian Babish, The ingredients you should avoid in your skincare routine, retrieved from https://www.chicagotribune.com/consumer-reviews/sns-bestreviews-beauty-skincare-ingredients-to-avoid-20200301-lqhg2firizdrlhxchpndgprg5a-story.html

Skin Whitening With Sunscreen Cream, retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-88449/skin-bleaching-with-sunscreen-topical/details

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Juliet M. Pullar et al., The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Well-Being, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579659/

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About the Author

Tina Briggs
Tina Briggs
Tina is Editor in Chief and Founder @ Ashenly. Learn more about her and the team here.

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