Do you know what the biggest enemy of skin’s natural fairness is? The answer is simple: black enzymes.
Do you know that Asian skin is more prone to dark spots? Skin color is determined by the amount of pigment (or melanin) present. Asian skin contains a heterogeneous mix of 2 types of melanin - phaeomelanin and eumelanin - that results in pigmentation irregularities such as dark spots and increased sensitivity to sunlight.
Over the past years, aesthetics companies and medical professionals have been introducing numerous skin whitening innovations into the consumer market, ranging from high-end niche treatments to budget skin whitening solutions, all of which promise to deliver that desirable lightening result on your skin, to give you that lovely fair skin that you have always wanted.
When it comes to fashion, you choose what fits you. With such an overwhelming range of skin whitening options available, how do you decide which is the real effective skin whitening solution that is going to work for you? Savvy consumers will know that it is not sufficient to just choose the best skin whitening product / treatment, you have to choose the skin whitening product / treatment that works best for you.
Consumers can consider the following guidelines when they are looking for a skin whitening remedy or are already in the midst of a skin whitening course:
1. Identify your problem
- There are many types of facial pigmentation. The most common types are freckles, solar lentigines (or age spots), melasma and Hori’s naevus. Many have a genetic basis, although factors like sunlight, ageing and hormones also play an important role. By identifying the source of your problem, you will know how to pick out the product / treatment that is going to help you rectify it.
2. Have some basic knowledge about skin whitening ingredients
- Every company has its own specialty skin whitening ingredients that are responsible for delivering that miracle on your skin. But how do you know that some of these virtually unknown ingredients are going to do the trick? A savvy consumer should not be going to a counter and take at face value in what the salesperson says during that 10 - 20 minutes of sales talk. Instead, listen to the salesperson, take a step back, do some simple research on the ingredients or talk to your dermatologist to see if this particular skin whitening product is going to be useful in solving your problem. There is no point buying a product whose only effects are to moisturize and provide your skin with UV protection when what you actually need is a product that can lighten melasma.
3. Be a responsible consumer
- Broadly speaking, it is possible to prevent / reduce skin pigmentation because many types of pigmentation are induced and aggravated by sunlight, therefore a suitable product and sufficient sun protection can delay the onset of skin pigmentation or improve the appearance. Using a skin lightening product may help improve the pigmentation, but regular use of sunscreen and active sun avoidance is also compulsory and should be undertaken responsibly.
4. Understand that not every product / treatment works for everyone
- Topical skin lightening products are effective for melasma. However, laser therapy does not work very well for melasma. In fact, laser may sometime cause temporary darkening (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), which can last several months. On the other hand, laser therapy is effective for pigmentation such as freckles, solar lentigines and Hori’s naevus.
5. Talk to a medical professional when necessary
- Besides sunlight, certain types of pigmentation - specifically melasma and Hori’s naevus - can be stimulated and worsened by hormonal factors, for example during pregnancy, taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement. In such cases, topical skin whitening products will not be able to rectify the problems effectively. Instead of hopping from one product to another and exposing your skin to further damages, talk to a medical professional who will advise the appropriate treatment options for you. Solve the problem when it is at the early stage, not when it gets out of hand.