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How does your skin obtain its color?

Your skin's color is the result of a natural dark pigment called melanin. The formation of this pigment is what determines how dark or light the skin appears. The melanin formation process begins in the deepest level of the epidermis within special cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes form a special chemical called tyrosinase which converts to tyrosine. Tyrosine is then turned into another chemical called dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) and then to dopaquinone. Following this process, dopaquinone is then converted to dopachrome through auto-oxidation, and finally to dihydroxyindole or dihydroxyindole-2-carboxylic acid (DHICA) to form melanin. The melanin is synthesized in specialized cytoplasmic organelles called "mealnosomes" which leave the melanocytes and head towards the surface of the skin. In darker inviduals, the complete melanosome survives inside regular skin cells. In lighter skin individuals, the chemicals within the regular skin cells break down the melanosomes and the melanin inside. In hyperpigmented areas, the melanocytes are more active than those found in normal areas of the skin. These variations is what leads to different skin colors and the occurrence of pigmented spots.

How do skin depigmenting treatments work?

As demonstrated in the above paragraph, the melanin formation process is extensive and occurs in various stages. Skin lightening treatments can lighten the skin by interfering at different points in the conversation process. Typically the first step in which tyrosinase converts to tyrosine is the most cruicial. By restricting the conversation at this stage, you can ultimately limit the entire remaining process. Most natural skin lightening treatments such as Arbutin inhibit tyrosinase activity as thus provide a natural lightening effect to the skin. Cytotoxic skin bleaching agents such as hydroquinone even go as far as killing healthy melanocytes in order to prevent the formation of melanin.

Which skin lightening treatments are dangerous?

Skin lightening products are used extensively in African and Asian countries to "whiten" the entire complexion. This desire to lighten the skin is prevalent in these countries where lighter skin is considered to be more attractive than darker skin tones. Consequently, many dangerous skin lightening products are imported from these countries where legal regulations are not thoroughly enforced.

One of the most dangerous ingredients found in these products is mercury. Though use of mercury in skin care products is illegal in the United States, many skin lightening products still contain this extremely toxic ingredient. Mexico, Nigeria and the border states of California, Texas and Arizona all show extremely high rates of mercury poisoning resulting from the use of illegally imported skin lightening creams. In clinics in Arizona, for example, doctors had observed more than 300 patients who had toxic levels of mercury in their urine during one investigation.

Mercury poisoning is known to cause neurological and kidney damage and may also lead to psychiatric disorders. The effects of mercury have been well documented in hundreds of studies on both rats and humans. Often permanent nerve and brain damage can also occur with long term exposure. For good reason, the FDA bans the use of mercury at even minute concentrations in all skin care products manufactured in the United States. However, it is nearly impossible to control all of the illegally imported products that come in to the country every year.

Topical steroids are also found in various imported skin lightening products. Though topical steroids do have their use in prescription based ointments, they should not be used by individuals without the supervision of a medical professional. Illegal use of steroid based products can lead to the thinning of treated skin, stretch marks, infection and other serious side effects.

Hydroquinone, in the past, was the standard ingredient for skin lightening treatments. Until recently, it was thought to be the safest and most effective treatment for hyperpigmentation, including age spots, melasma, sun damage and other discolorations. However, new research suggests that there may be serious side effects associated with long term use of synthetic hydroquinone. Just recently the FDA also announced its plans to possibly remove hydroquinone based products from store shelves and limit its use to only prescription based medications. Consequently, many manufacturers have begun to produce natural alternatives which mimic the skin lightening properties of hydroquinone but without the associated risks. Though hydroquinone is an effective skin lightening treatment, its use should be limited to those under the supervision of a medical professional.

 view natural skin lightening ingredients


skin whitener
Meladerm? Pigment Reducing Complex
1.7 oz Cream (
more information)

Sale:  $ 49.99 USD

Visibly reduce the appearance of:
  • Age / Liver spots / Sun spots
  • Freckles
  • Tans / Sun damage
  • Melasma / Chloasma
  • Acne marks
  • Old scars
  • Discolorations
  • Birthmarks
  • Dark elbows, knees, knuckles
  • Dark underarms
  • Other hyperpigmentation
  • General skin brightening
Meladerm? Ingredients:

Water, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), PEG 4 (and) Lactic Acid (and) Kojic Acid (and) Butylene Glycol (and) Mulberry Root Extract (and) Bearberry Extract (and) Licorice Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Alpha Arbutin, Cetyl Alcohol (and) Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-75 Stearate (and) Ceteth-20 (and) Steareth-20, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Sunflower Oil, 1-Methylhydantoine-2-imide (Tego? Cosmo C250), Ethoxydiglycol, Glycereth-26, Glycereth Stearate, Steareth-2, Steareth-21, Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Ceteareth-20, Glycerin, Gigawhite? (Mallow Extract, Peppermint Leaf Extract, Primula Veris Extract, Alchemilla Vulgaris Extract, Veronica Officinalis Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract), Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Polysorbate 60, Dimethicone, Stearyl Alcohol, Lemon Juice Extract, Glyceryl-2 Cocoate (and) Benzoic Acid, Carbopol 980, Triethanolamine, Sorbic Acid, Fragrance, Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Urea, Emblica Extract

skin whitening

The text contained in this web site is for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. You should read carefully all product packaging. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider. Information and statements regarding cosmetic products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results may vary among users.

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