Was Hautaufheller bewirken: Hydroquinone & Co.

What skin lighteners do: Hydroquinone & Co.

Skin whitening at any price? Why you should avoid bleach

The use of whitening creams and other lightening cosmetics is an extremely harmful trend that is gaining popularity in almost all countries around the world. But where does this trend come from, and are skin bleaching agents really that dangerous? Here you will find out the most important facts about skin lightening.

Why do many dark people bleach their skin?

Often, lightening creams and bleaches are only intended to be used to remove annoying skin spots. In fact, this is by no means the only reason: In many countries, bleaching creams are sold under names such as “White Beauty”, “Perfect White” and many similar variants. In reality, most users are looking to completely brighten their complexion. But how did the obsession with light skin actually come about?

Dark-skinned women, and more rarely men, all over the world are most affected by the dangerous trend. The prevailing Western ideals of beauty encourage countless people to lighten their skin.

Anyone with dark skin who lives in a predominantly white country may also be more tempted to bleach their complexion in order to appear more well-adjusted. However, this way of thinking can have unhealthy consequences.

How exactly do skin lightening agents work?

In general, lightening cosmetics work by destroying melanin or inhibiting melanin formation. The melanin content of your skin is determined by your genes and can only be changed by certain diseases or chemical interventions - such as the use of bleach.

There are countless chemicals that are used to lighten the skin. Almost all of them that produce visible results are highly harmful to health and should generally be avoided. The most well-known skin bleaching agents include:

Kojic acid

  • Kojic acid inhibits the formation of new pigments and makes the skin look brighter when used regularly. The substance inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, which plays an important role in melanin formation. The acid is often used against pigment and age spots. Since the active ingredient can cause permanent skin irritation, cosmetics containing this ingredient are already banned in Switzerland. The acid is still freely available for sale in Germany and most other European countries.


  • Hydroquinone is one of the most commonly used chemicals in bleach. In large quantities, hydroquinones are harmful to the environment. The use of the substance leads to painful skin irritations and greatly increased sensitivity to light. Animal experiments have even shown that it has a carcinogenic effect!


  • Although it has not yet been clearly proven, there is clear evidence of the harmful effects of this drug. Most of these can also be traced back to hydroquinone: Since the two substances are chemically closely related, they also have similar risks. Arbutin is often promoted as the more "harmless" option for skin lightening, but it is still suspected of having carcinogenic and genetically damaging side effects.

The Dangers of Skin Bleaching Products

Due to their harmful side effects, countless bleaching agents have already been banned within the EU. In addition to the actual active ingredients, many lightening creams contain other unhealthy ingredients. Typical additives include hydrogen peroxide, benzene or even mercury.

Toxic chemicals can cause skin irritation and burning rashes.

Because chemical bleaches suppress the melanin in your skin, you also become more susceptible to sunburns. Normally, Africans with black type VI skin are naturally very well protected from the sun - but the destruction of the dark pigments leads to an increased risk of skin cancer in the long term.

For glowing, healthy skin, you should avoid brighteners for these reasons.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.