Lightening products: consequences and alternatives

Produits éclaircissants : conséquences et alternatives

It is clear that cosmetic products with a lightening effect are popular with black, dark and mixed skin. However, it is important to know that these lightening creams almost always contain active ingredients that are dangerous for the skin and health in general, including hydroquinone . In this article, we reveal all the risks with these lightening products and offer natural alternatives for clearer, even and smoother skin.

What are the dangers of whitening products?

Skin whitening has become a trend across the world, among Nubian skins. On the one hand, people resort to this technique to regain their natural complexion and make the skin more even. On the other hand, some people want to change their skin tone altogether. This second case represents a real danger for the skin and health.

Cosmetic laboratories add depigmenting ingredients in their products to provide this result. But the price to pay is sometimes huge since in some cases, the consequences are irreversible. When buying a lightening cream or oil, always check the actives in the product.

The risks are numerous, to name only the cutaneous consequences such as black spots, acne pimples and stretch marks. Here are the most dangerous products to avoid. Moreover, they are prohibited from sale on European territory.


Hydroquinone or mequinol, these products are the most used in skin discoloration. Although it is effective, it represents a real danger for the skin. This whitening active can have many consequences:

  • Localized hyperpigmentation around the eyes or periorbital hyperchromia.
  • Hyperpigmentation on sun-exposed areas with a thick, rough appearance (exogenous ochronosis)
  • Blue-gray pigmentation on the auricle.
  • Nodular pimples observed on treated areas.
  • Wrinkled skin due to the drop in collagen.
  • Risk of skin cancer
  • Risk of eye cataracts

Finally, products containing hydroquinone are strongly prohibited during pregnancy and breastfeeding since the latter is suspected of being mutagenic. In other words, they can alter the DNA at the origin of the development of cancers.


Corticosteroids are the most effective lightening active ingredients, but also the most dangerous. They tend to weaken the skin against microbiological attacks, thus increasing the risk of bacterial, viral and fungal infections. That's not all, many skin problems can appear after long-term corticosteroid application:

  • Skin thinning
  • Large stretch marks
  • Contact eczema
  • Pustular acne
  • Hyperpilosity
  • Button plate
  • Fragile, clear and red eyelids
  • Poor wound healing

The use of corticosteroids also has repercussions on health such as hormonal imbalance, arterial hypertension, bone weakening, diabetes as well as the risk of glaucoma and cataracts. In the event of pregnancy or lactation, corticosteroids lead to a predisposition of the child to metabolic, cardiovascular and neuroendocrine disorders.

Mercury derivatives

These products are responsible for many allergic skin reactions such as:

  • Paradoxical hyperpigmentation caused by the accumulation of mercury in the dermis.
  • Discoloration and brittleness of the nails caused by the accumulation of mercury in the keratin.
  • The risk of kidney failure
  • The neurotoxic effect

In pregnant and breastfeeding women, mercury derivatives risk slowing the brain development of the fetus and infant.

Retinoids or derivatives of vitamin A acid

Lightening creams or oils containing retinoids often have side effects on the skin. You may notice, after several uses, skin dryness, flaking, erythema, stinging and burning.

What are the alternatives to lightening products?

The most important thing to preserve the natural complexion of your skin and revive its radiance is to follow an appropriate care ritual. It is recommended to exfoliate the skin once or twice a week. Our body and face exfoliating gel with AHA eliminates dead cells, unclogs pores, stimulates cell renewal and promotes collagen production.

Then use products that ensure even skin pigmentation. You can adopt our HRB-3 anti-dark spot range consisting of a day care, a night care, a serum, a body milk and an eye contour care for unified and brighter skin. This ritual is also effective in combating hyperpigmentation, a common problem in black skin.

Our EYE RE-7 multi-corrector eye contour is effective in reducing dark spots around the eyes. It is strongly recommended to fight dark circles and puffiness. Our unifying and moisturizing body milk deeply hydrates the skin while correcting hyperpigmentation spots to maintain the natural radiance of your complexion.

Finally, you can concoct homemade products to lighten the dark areas of your skin, especially the elbows and knees . Among the most used lightening products, you can apply a mask based on coconut milk, yogurt, aloe vera, turmeric and potato.

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