For those with skin discoloration or hyper-pigmentation, skin lightening/brightening is an attractive solution. Age spots, sun damage, melasma, chloasma, freckles – when coloration is uneven, many go to great lengths to balance out skin tone. Just as with any type of skin care, it’s important to maximize results, while minimizing any potential negative effects.
Skin Brightening Do’s
DO avoid the sun
Almost any worthwhile skincare advice will include protecting skin from the sun. But when you’re already trying to lighten/brighten your skin, you’ll want to be particularly vigilant about sun protection. In fact, a good sunscreen may be the most important part of your skin lightening routine. Or, to be truly safe, avoid sun exposure as much as you can.
While your lightening treatments are working to disrupt the production of melanin (which causes skin to get darker), you also need to block the UV rays that trigger the production of more melanin. In addition, some ingredients and processes used to brighten skin can make skin more sensitive to the sun.
DO avoid multitasking
If you’re dealing with skin irritations such as eczema, acne, psoriasis, etc., you should have those conditions well under control prior to starting a lightening treatment or regimen. If your skin is already irritated, a lightening product may do more harm than good.
DO follow instructions
As you should with any skin care product you use, you should be sure to read and understand the instructions. They are there with good reason: and you’ll want to get the best results possible, with the least potential for something to go wrong. And if you find a product that doesn’t have clear instructions, it’s probably best to choose something else.
DO read labels. DO your homework. DO educate yourself.
While there is a trend toward people trying to understand and pay attention to what they put on and in their bodies, that’s not always the case. But when using products intended to lighten/brighten the skin, it’s crucial that you know your ingredients – what’s safe and what may not be so safe, and how they may interact with other products you use.
DO take care of your skin overall
Using a brightening treatment can be a big step in improving your skin. But you should still be working on keeping skin strong and healthy. Make sure you’re keeping your skin hydrated and nourished (inside and out!), and avoid cigarette smoke and alcohol, which are known to be damaging to your skin.
DO give your products/treatment time to work
One application of a skin lightening cream or a brightening mask will probably not make a noticeable difference. Most brightening treatments have a cumulative effect – and if used according to directions, will give you better results over time.
DO maintain your results
Understand that skin lightening is neither an overnight process nor is it ever “over.” The results that you achieve over time require ongoing maintenance in order to keep skin looking its best.
Skin brightening Don’ts
DON’T expect miracles
We live in a “fast food” world, where most of us want immediate results. To that end, it may be tempting to use multiple products, or apply products more frequently than is recommended. Or, we may think that exfoliating more frequently will help our products work faster.
Be patient with the products you choose, and follow the directions. If, after 4-6 weeks, there is no noticeable difference, you may want to try something else.
And remember that skin lightening products are meant to address uneven skin tone and hyper pigmentation; they are not intended to change overall skin tone or shade. Think of lightening/brightening treatments more as “spot” treatments.