Skin whitening, brightening, lightening and bleaching are often used interchangeably without truly understanding the underlying connotations of these procedures. All of these work towards the common goal of enhancing one’s physical appearance, but are different in their approaches, especially whitening and brightening. There is an abundance of brightening and whitening creams in the market. Therefore, it is essential to understand precisely what these do before applying them on your skin.
Different approaches for a better complexion
Skin bleaching was a common practice in the 1980s. Bleach gave away to more sophisticated products like glutathione supplements with the advancement of science. Although it is still findable in some pockets, the world has, by and large, moved on from bleaching.
Skin lightening and whitening are almost the same things, only varying in the degree of melanin reduction. They are often used in lieu of one another. Skin lightening describes the more gradual approach in which mild tyrosinase inhibitors are used over a prolonged period. Whitening uses a more aggressive approach and uses active compounds like mercury and hydroquinone for getting rid of melanin.
Skin brightening is an entirely different procedure from whitening both in approach and outcome. Let’s delve deeper into this territory and find out how skin lightening is different from skin brightening.
Whitening vs brightening – The basics
Skin whitening aims at making the complexion several tones lighter, while brightening is more concerned with enhancing the glow and luminance of skin. Whitening products target specific areas where pigmentation has discolored one’s skin, like dark spots and suntans. It works towards reducing the melanin production in that particular area, as a result of which it looks fairer than before. Most skin whiteners use strong compounds like hydroquinone and glutathione as active ingredients.
Skin brightening, on the other hand, is more concerned with restoring the vibrancy of the skin. Exposure to pollutants, ageing and a host of other factors contribute towards making our skin dull. Brightening aims to reduce this dullness by removing dead skin cells and revealing the underlying radiance of one’s skin.
Common ingredients in skin whiteners
Whitening creams use a host of natural and synthetically produced compounds to achieve their goal. Some of the most commonly used compounds are mentioned below.
- Kojic acid
- Glutathione supplements
- Liquorice extracts
- Bearberry and mulberry extracts
All these compounds have proven melanin reduction capabilities. You should check the ingredient list of whitening creams for these compounds before purchasing them.
Common ingredients in skin brighteners
Skin brighteners are not as much concerned with melanin reduction as they are with reducing dullness and revealing fresh, glowing skin. Skin brighteners mostly use the following ingredients to achieve that purpose.
- Vitamin C
- Alpha hydroxy acid
- Citrus extracts
What to choose?
That depends on your goal. If you are unhappy with your overall complexion or want to get rid of hyperpigmentation in certain areas, skin whitening products are for you.
Go with brightening products if dark spots aren’t a concern and you rather want vibrant skin.
Having said that, there is a massive overlap between these two types of skin enhancement procedures. For the best results, you should follow a regimen that includes both these approaches. Also, using a strong sunscreen protection from harmful UV rays of the sun is paramount. An ideal beauty routine should comprise all the three.