Is Skin Bleaching Safe? Are There Any Safer Ways To Brighten Skin?

Written by Ramona Sinha

Your complexion does not determine whether you are beautiful or not. If you are thinking that this article is about how to make your skin fairer, you will be disappointed.

In this article, we will talk about one of the most common skin aspirations that we all share – bright and glowing skin. The culprits that come between us and this skin goal are pollution and sun exposure. They cause pigmentation, tanning, acne, and clogged pores, which make our skin dull and dark. There is no way we can avoid them.

Bleaching is an effective way to reduce the appearance of blemishes and dark patches and brighten your skin. But chemical bleaches have a damaging impact on your skin. The best alternative is to use natural remedies to brighten your skin without damaging it. In this article, we have discussed the reasons to avoid chemical bleaching and a few natural ways that can help you brighten your skin without damaging it. Read on.

Is Bleaching Safe For Skin?

No. Absolutely not.

According to statistics, there is an unhealthy obsession with “fair” skin, especially among African and Asian women. UN data says that 40% of African women bleach their skin (1). By 2024, the market of skin-lightening and whitening products is estimated to be worth $31.2 billion (2). However, little do you realize that you are actually damaging your skin by using chemical bleaches. Skin bleaching may cause serious skin complications. Therefore, you need to know the risks and side effects before you try out any bleaching agent.

Risks And Side Effects Of Using Chemical Skin Bleaching Agents

Chemical bleaches – including whitening soaps, creams, and lotions – contain chemicals, such as hydroquinone, mercury (Hg), and steroids, which can cause serious side effects like (3):

  • Mercury poisoning
  • Dermatitis (skin inflammation such as rashes, itching, redness, and blisters)
  • Exogenous ochronosis (blue-black pigmentation)
  • Steroid acne (red, painful bumps, whiteheads, and blackheads)
  • Nephrotic syndrome (a type of kidney disorder where the blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged)

In the same study, the researchers pointed out that hydroquinone might trigger DNA damage and immunosuppressive responses (reduction in the efficacy or activity of your immune system). They also drew attention to the potential of increased vulnerability to skin cancer caused by any changes in the melanin production in people who bleach their skin, especially if they live in tropical areas with strong UV radiation. They concluded that more studies are required to establish a direct connection.

You should not be bothered about your complexion as long as you have healthy skin. However, we understand that the blemishes, spots, and pigmentation can be bothersome for you. You may try using natural home remedies to minimize the spots and blemishes and brighten your skin. These DIY skin-brightening agents may not erase your blemishes completely or have an intense skin whitening or bleaching effect, but they will not harm your skin (unless you are allergic to any of the ingredients) and keep it healthy and bright. Check them out.

Skin Bleaching: DIY Home Remedies To Brighten Your Skin Naturally

Before you try any of these remedies, do a patch test to make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients. Also, keep in mind that these are natural remedies and will not have an intense bleaching or whitening effect like chemical bleaches.

1. Yogurt

Yogurt (and other milk products) contains lactic acid that helps in lightening skin (4). Also, applying yogurt on your skin has a calming effect.

Take a tablespoon of yogurt and add a pinch of turmeric to it. Apply the paste on your skin and leave it on for 15-30 minutes before washing. Follow this routine once daily.

2. Lemon

Lemon contains vitamin C that inhibits melanin formation and has a depigmenting effect (5). However, avoid this remedy if you have sensitive skin as it can cause redness and irritation. Also, lemon makes the skin photosensitive. Apply sunscreen before stepping out after using this remedy.

Dilute a tablespoon of lemon juice with distilled water and apply it on your face as a toner. Wash it off after 10-15 minutes.

3. Milk

Milk contains lactic acid that has a skin-lightening effect (4).

Mix a teaspoon of honey in a tablespoon of raw milk and spread it on your face using a cotton ball. Leave it on for 15-30 minutes and wash off. Follow this routine once a day.

4. Tomato

Eating tomatoes can safeguard you from the damaging effects of UV rays (6). There is no scientific proof of its brightening effect on the skin upon topical application, but it is commonly used as a home remedy for skin brightening. You may add tomatoes to your daily diet or use the following home remedy.

Mix a tablespoon of tomato paste with a pinch of turmeric and a bit of milk. Apply it to your face and wash it off after 20-30 minutes. Repeat this routine three times a week.

5. Gram Flour

Gram flour (or besan) is one of the most commonly used ingredients for its beauty benefits. It exfoliates and cleanses your skin thoroughly to brighten your skin tone. It also helps reduce tan and oiliness (7).

To use gram flour for skin brightening, mix a tablespoon of gram flour with rose water and apply the paste on your skin. Let it dry before washing it off. Use this remedy thrice a week.

6. Turmeric

Turmeric has exceptional wound-healing and antiseptic properties, which is why it is commonly used in Ayurvedic preparations to treat a number of skin ailments. Turmeric can help reduce pigmentation, dark spots, and uneven skin tone to give you bright and glowing skin (7).

Mix half a teaspoon of turmeric with milk cream and massage it on your skin. Let it dry before washing it off. Follow this remedy once daily.

7. Sandalwood (Shwet Chandan or White Sandalwood)

White sandalwood powder is used to cure skin allergies. It also has a cooling and soothing effect on the skin. White sandalwood powder is especially beneficial in reducing the appearance of scars and acne marks to give you a brighter skin tone (7).

Mix a teaspoon of white sandalwood powder with a teaspoon of honey and apply the paste on your skin. Wash it off after 20 minutes. Follow this routine thrice a week.

8. Saffron

Saffron contains carotenoid glycosides and terpenoids. It lightens and brightens your skin to give you a clear complexion and youthful glow (7).

Soak a pinch of saffron strands in raw milk and apply the mixture with a cotton ball. Wash it off after 30 minutes and follow this routine once daily.

9. Potato

Potato juice is one of the most common DIY remedies for skin issues. There is no scientific study that proves any skin benefit of topical application of potato. However, many people have used potato and found it beneficial for dark circles, blemishes, and skin brightening.

Mix potato juice with a few drops of lemon juice and honey. Apply the mixture on your skin and wash it off after 15-20 minutes. Follow this routine 2-3 times a week.

10. Egg Whites

There are no studies that prove the skin brightening effect of egg whites. Many people use raw egg whites on their skin as they found it to have a brightening effect. However, it is not advisable to apply raw egg on the skin as it may contain salmonella.

If you want to use egg whites on your face, mix it with a teaspoon of virgin olive oil and lemon juice and apply it as a face mask. Wash it off once it dries.

11. Papaya

Papaya contains vitamin C and carotenoids that can reduce pigmentation and prevent redness when you consume them (5), (8). However, many people use papaya on the skin to fade their marks, spots, and blemishes.

You can try it by mixing mashed ripe papaya with a teaspoon of diluted lemon juice and applying it on your skin. Use this remedy once every alternate day.

12. Strawberry

Strawberry also contains vitamin C that has depigmenting properties (5). However, its topical benefits have not been proven.

You can use strawberry to create a fruity face pack. Mash a few strawberries and mix them with milk. Apply the paste on your face. Wash it off after it dries. Follow this home remedy once daily.

13. Licorice

Licorice may clear up and brighten your skin. It reduces excessive melanin production and distributes it evenly throughout your skin to reduce hyperpigmentation. It also prevents UVB-induced pigmentation. However, more research is required to prove its depigmenting effects (9).

You can mix licorice powder with sandalwood powder and rose water, then apply the paste on your skin twice or thrice a week.

14. Carrot

Carrot contains lycopene and carotenoids that can help reduce UV-induced redness and sunburn (8). Anecdotal evidence also suggests that it can help reduce blemishes and even out the skin tone to improve its appearance. Though it takes a lot of time and regular application, the carrot is also said to be rejuvenating for all skin types.

Mix carrot paste with yogurt and a few drops of lemon juice and apply it on your skin. Use this remedy once daily.

15. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is widely used in cosmetics and skincare products for its skin benefits. Its texture makes it an excellent exfoliant that removes dead skin cells (10). Oatmeal is also said to protect your skin from the damaging effects of UV rays, such as tanning, dark spots, and age spots (11). However, the efficacy of oatmeal on skin needs further research.

To use oatmeal, mix ground oatmeal with milk and massage it on your face. Wash it off once it is dry.

Compared to chemical treatments, natural skin brightening treatments take longer to show results. Therefore, you need to use these treatments regularly and be patient. A chemical skin-whitening or skin-bleaching product may give you instant results, but it will also damage your skin. If you are keen to bleach your skin without harming it, try these natural remedies to brighten your skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I use to bleach my skin?

You may use commercial bleaching agents but they can damage your skin. It is better to use natural ingredients to brighten your skin.

How to bleach skin naturally?

Natural ingredients can only help brighten your skin and may not give the same results as chemical bleaching agents.


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Ramona is a journalist-turned-content writer. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and has been writing for the digital world for over five years. She specializes in writing for Skin Care. She has done a certificate course titled ‘Dermatology: Trip To The Skin’, offered by Novosibirsk State University. She believes that beauty begins with a good skin care regimen and is on a mission to eliminate all toxins from her routine. She helps and guides readers in selecting products and ingredients specific to their skin type/issue. When Ramona is not working, her books and passion for music, good food, and traveling keep her busy.