Pros and Cons of Skin Lightening, Toning and Bleaching


With the rate at which Nigerians, especially the ladies are embracing skin lightening cosmetics, it is only fair that they are enlightened about it.

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Most people confuse skin lightening and skin bleaching. They all make one fairer but in different levels and shades. Skin lightening brightens the skin by a couple of shades while skin bleaching strips the skin completely of melanin. The second process is very dangerous, invasive and can lead to many unwanted side effects.

Skin toning is a colloquial term that implies the lightening of the tone/shade of your skin. FYI, skin toning is also the process of balancing the pH of your skin with the application of a toner which is a liquid agent usually applied to the face after washing using a cotton ball or pad. However, In Nigeria Toning is almost always referred to as skin lightening.

Skin Lightening  gone wrong

Skin Lightening

Black skin is most times associated with slavery due to the white man’s opinion that Africans are monkeys. This misconception has led to most blacks trying to become fairer to be more acceptable into the world’s standard of humanity. Micheal Jackson is a typical example of a black man turned white.

True Beauty is in healthy, glowing, radiant, blemish free skin, whether black or white. Skin bleaching is not acceptable in any form or way as the health hazards surpass the benefits. If you want to change your skin colour totally and go from being a dark or medium toned individual to a light-skinned person, you need to pen down the prize for that beauty regime, it is dangerous and completely unsustainable.

However, there is nothing wrong in wanting to maintain the natural radiance of your complexion. As you age, your skin naturally darkens especially on the exposed areas of our bodies. This is age-related physiological darkening and is completely normal and you can lighten these areas to maintain our complexions and still look amazing.

Hyperpigmentation (skin darkening which can be localised or diffuse i.e. covering a large area) is one of the major complaints of ethnic skin. It can also occur through sun exposure,  inflammation such as acne, insect bite, injury, inflammatory skin conditions, illness, drugs and even pregnancy (melasma/mask of pregnancy).

Everyone notices a natural darkening of the skin following hours of sun exposure. If you look at your inner arms or thighs, most times these areas are lighter than your neck, arms and face.

Examples of drugs which may cause skin darkening include; anti-seizure drugs like phenytoin, antipsychotics like chlorpromazine, antimalarial (chloroquine) NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), Amiodarone, cytotoxic drugs, Sulphonamides. Kindly note these drugs and use them with caution.

Healing occurs after any inflammatory assault (acne, insect bite, injury) on the skin, which in turn can lead to scarring and hyperpigmentation.

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Anyone who wants to completely change their skin colour to desist; you may enjoy the results initially but rest assured it is not sustainable; your skin will eventually re-darker and worst of all become damaged. There is no solution for irreversibly damaged skin; there is no procedure, expensive or otherwise that can reverse damaged skin. So before you turn white, ask yourself, “Will my new colour be worth the stress?”