Whitening my skin?
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What are some good and safe ways to lighten my skin? I have Asian skin, so it's pretty fair with golden undertones. But even with sunscreen, sun exposure made it darker. And what sunscreens do you recommend that would not clog pores and contribute to breakouts? 

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[ Edited ]

In the case of wanting to brighten, lighten, or fade certain aspects of the skin, over the counter skin care products can only work to so much of a degree.


To truly get technical, as long as your skin has melanin to provide pigmentation, your own hereditary and genetics will decipher much of how receptive your skin is to treatments.


Commonly used over the counter treatments include ingredients that are covered as being chemical based exfoliants that can range from:


-Hydroquinone, one of the strongest over the counter skin lighteners onthe market. Hydroquinone is used mainly for evening areas of discoloration, age spots, sun spots, and even post acne marks due to its ability to slow/reduce the production of melanin/pigmentation in the skin.


-Retinol, widely used in the skin care market for its ability to treat multiple issues raning in fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, loss of elasticity, and age spots.


-Glycolic acid, most commonly fruit sugars/enzymes, and also classified as an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), offers a more gentle skin brightening treatment. GAs can range from papaya, pineapple, sugar cane, orange, lemon, to various other citric acids.


-Lactic acid, or milk sugars and proteins, also a AHA, is a very mild ingredient used in brightening,

-Kojic acid, licorice, bearberry, resveratrol, and mulberry are all very delicate fruit or botanical based skin brighteners and are preferable to people who don't want to rely on heavier hitters like hydroquinone but they can take a little longer to show results.


-Vitamin C, also can be referred as an ester or ascorbic acid, not only helps with brightening/evening skin tone, but also boosting collagen production in the skin.


-Poly hydroxy acid, PHA, a type of alpha hydroxy acid that also targets and addresses skin's thickness and resiliency. This aims for not just treating skin, but aims to improves skin's condition, texture, and tone.


-Rice and pearl proteins/extracts and tumeric, used more in the East and now incorporated in products in the West, known for anything from anti-oxidant properties to brightening and keeping skin luminous.


-Alpha arbutin, an ingredient that works similar to hydroquinone in targeting discolored areas to help fade along with blocking melanin production but does not risk sensitizing skin as much as hydroquinone.


Though that doesn't list out all and every type, it gives a fair amount of ground covered in many of the widely used brightening/lightening ingredients used on the market today.


As mentioned, many treatment products or lines designed to brighten, lighten, fade, or give luminocity to skin will rely on chemical based exfoliants. Chemical based exfoliants show to be more effective as they work on a cellular level, in a sense from the inside out. They help increase cell turnover to promote new and healthy skin regeneration, in other words, they help fade areas of discoloration by helping the inner layers of skin push upward and outward to be shed, while helping to build new, healthy layers of skin that can then rise to the surface and be revealed.


Of course in terms of wanting to lighten and brighten the skin, this goes for again, areas of discoloration brought on from sun damage/spots, post acne marks/mild scarring, and age spots, which can also be referred to as oxidation or oxidative damage.


To understand how discoloration is formed is to understand it ties into internal/hereditary/genetic factors as well as environmental/external factors. Someone can be born and predisposed to having more melanin in one's skin, ergo having the ability to have more pigmentation be visible or develop. This is what gives us a population that ranges in skin tone and complexion shades, along with explaning how some people develop tans quicker or better than others while some just get red or burn in sunlight. This predisposition of melanin/pigment production rate combined with oxidative processing can lead to excess portions of discoloration due to sun/UV damage.


Oxidative damage comes from areas or portions of the skin absorbing and processing UVA and UVB rays at faster than normal speed, thus disrupting the skin's even tone and producing brown spots, freckles, and sun spots. This is where sun protection products come in.


There is a difference between sunscreen and sunblock. Sunscreen usually relies on chemical made or formulated protectants that filter and reflect a certain degree of UVA and UVB rays while sunblock uses organic compounds like titanium or zinc to fully block out UV rays all together. Though there is a difference, proper use of either product will ensure a safe spectrum of sun protection.


Look for oil free, broad spectrum sun protection products. UVA rays are always present in the atmosphere, whether the sun is out or not and also for helping the signs of aging along, UVB rays are the rays responsible for the burn you get from prolonged sun exposure and linked to cancer contribution, hence the need for a broad spectrum product.


With sun protectant products, the SPF level can range anywhere from 5-8, to in the 100s. Though it's best to use at bare minimum a 15 or 20 on the face (even better if you can get 30), once you move to the higher end of the range, there's an actual decrease in difference between sunprotection offered. In other words, using a SPF of 85 won't protection significantly more than a 75, and using a 100 won't necessarily be better than 85. I typically try to use at least a 55 on my body, sunscreen/block need to be reapplied on average anywhere from 90-120 minutes, and even from 45-90 minutes if you're constantly sweating, in and out of water, or in prolonged areas of sun exposure. And in regards to proper use, there are dozens of guidelines in terms of the proper amount to use on the face and body to get the actual payoff of the SPF degree purchased. About half a teaspoon should be used for the face, and shot glasses can be used to measure out the proper amounts for the body. It's surprising how much you actually need, and to not neglect areas like the hands, tops of ears, and even exposed hairlines.


Though make up and cosmetics are now advocating formulas infused with SPF, the amount of sunprotection offered is negligible in comparison to what you can actually achieve using skin care and designated sun protection products. Think of it like this, you're not pancaking on your foundation or powder with SPF, so you're really putting very little SPF on your skin through make up. SPF doesn't add up, so don't think an SPF lotion of 15 plus your SPF 15 foundation means you have 30, you're still wearing just 15.


Since sunscreen/block work to combat damage while also preventing premature signs of aging and damage, it's important to follow up any skin care regimen with sun protection.


Brands like Neutrogena, La Roche Posa, Aveeno, CeraVe, and Peter Thomas Roth all make wonderful sun care products that I highly recommend.


If you wish to start any skin lightening treatment or process, please use the products at night as the rapid and potent basis of the ingredients and their levels can make skin sensitized to light and UV rays. So in other words, don't go ovrboard with treatment ingredients, then go walk into the sun, they can leave skin at a more delicate and exposed state, making skin more vulnerable to UV damage, thus the need to follow up in the morning with proper sun care. Stronger ingredients like hydroquinone and retinol can even cause a bit of tightness or dryness in skin, so without knowing beforehand how your skin handles more potent ingredients, consult a dermatologist first or maybe use the product every third night for a solid weeks time, then every two nights, until you can use it every night.

Normal skin lightening/brightening treatments take on average 4 to 6 weeks to show results, and that's with the potent stuff, full results can normally be seen at the 8-12 week mark, so patience is also needed.


Lines such as Peter Thomas Roth, Dermalogica, Murad, Kate Somerville, Exuviance/Neostrata, Ole Henriksen, Clinique, Caudalie, Origins, Shisheido, Ambi, and Lancome all manufacture products that contain certain aspects or combinations of the ingredients listed above that help to lighten/brighten.


With lightening/brightening, known that over the counter products are not going to "bleach" your skin. In other words, if you're as tan as Jennifer Lopez, or as dark as Angela Bassett, you're not going to be able to use these products and go to looking like Christina Hendricks or Kate Hudson. Though the skinc are lines do offer some of their own segmented lines to increase radiance and luminocity in skin, there is no system that will take you from being mocha to the color of cream in matter of months, they are designed to combat what they can and what can be controlled through use of skin care and topical products.


Feel free to message me for more details. I know I gave a long post but I feel knowledge is the best tool. Smiley Happy

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