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If you suffer from hyperpigmentation problems like sunspots, freckles, acne scars, or moles and find yourself self-conscious about these blemishes, a good skin lightening cream may be the miracle product for you. After all, while it’s easy to say the beauty is more than skin deep, the sad truth is that your appearance does matter. With social media putting more and more of people’s lives online, how you look is an important aspect of both men and women’s lives.

Thankfully, there are a variety of products that dermatologists recommend in order to treat issues like hyperpigmentation. Whether you’re looking to even out your skin tone or are interested in lightening different dark spots on your skin, here are a few facts to keep in mind about skin lighteners.

What is skin lightener?

Skin lightening is a cosmetic process that helps reverse the hyperpigmentation on the skin. They function by lowering the melanin in the areas of dark skin where they’re applied. In addition to decreasing the amount of melanin in certain dark spots, skin lighteners also remove skin cells with discoloration in the area you put the cream and promote the natural growth and development of brighter, new cells.

Skin lightener can be used on a variety of blemishes, from sunspots and moles to freckles, melasma, and acne scars. As such, it’s generally only used on visible parts of your body, such as your face, legs, arms, and hands. That being said, if you’re concerned about other parts of your body when you get into a bathing suit or undressed with your partner, it’s certainly appropriate to use a skin lightener in those areas, too, if it’ll make you feel more confident.

How long does a skin lightener take to work?

The length of time it takes for skin lightener to work ultimately comes down to a variety of factors. Some of the most important considerations are the size and pigment of the area you’re looking at brightening, as well as your overall skin type and the product you’re using. That being said, the average consumer can see visible results from a skin lightening product in as little as two weeks, with three months or more being a common timeframe for results as well.

What’s the best skin lightening cream?

It’d be simple to say that the best skin lightening cream is the one that works for you, but the truth of the matter is that as long as your cream has certain natural ingredients in it, it’s likely to help address areas of melasma or darker skin tone. For example, one natural ingredient to look for in your creams is alpha arbutin, which is derived from plants like pear trees and can reduce melanin production by up to 70 percent, according to some studies. Another powerful natural ingredient found in some of the best skin lightening creams is niacinamide, which is fast-acting and highly effective at increasing the lightness of your skin.

At the same time, there are certain ingredients that should serve as red flags to you if you’re looking for a cream to brighten your skin color, age spots, or other dark patches and brown spots on your body. While these ingredients can help address your dark patches or complexion issues, no dermatologist would recommend these whitening creams because of the risks inherent to their use. For example, mercury, a heavy metal, is sometimes used in skin care products and hides on labels behind names like calomel, and mercuric. Another dangerous additive that you don’t want to find in your whitening cream is hydroquinone. Beyond causing redness and irritation in some users, hydroquinone has also been linked to cancer. Yikes!

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