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Radiant Skin with Skin Whitening Supplements: What You Need to Know

Skin whitening, or bleaching, is a form of medication designed to change your natural skin tone by making it lighter through chemicals. These chemicals are administered to your body through pills, creams, or injections. However, these products are often dangerous or painful, but they deliver in cases where patients are cautious and follow instructions as provided. Some effects are also reversible if the bleaching is done under the supervision of a specialist. 

Consult a medical specialist before embarking on this.

Do skin supplements work?

The answer is yes. Skin supplements do work; however, the results you get might not be as advertised. Crystal Tomato shares a guide to skin whitening supplements.

How do whitening products work?

Skin whitening products reduce the production and concentration of a pigment produced by the skin called melanin. Melanin is produced by melanocyte cells, and it is used to determine your skin color. However, genetics, hormones, exposure to sunlight, and other factors determine your amount of melanin and its production levels. People with darker skin naturally have more melanin.

  • Adding skin whitening supplements to your body decreases the number of melanocytes, crippling melanin production.
  • Whitening pills also inhibit the activity of Tyrosinase by inhibiting its catalytic actions. The inability to express or activate Tyrosinase will cause the anti-melanogenic agent to reduce its activation.
  • Skin whitening supplements also directly kill already produced melanin and prevent melanosomes from transferring to keratinocytes.

Agents used in skin whitening products


Despite being banned in the early 2000s by the European Union, Hydroquinone is a common agent in skin whitening products. It works by decreasing the production of melanin.


This agent, also known as all-trans retinoic acid, is combined with steroids and hydroquinone to cause skin whitening.

Alpha Hydroxy acid

A low concentration of this agent is used in skin whitening products. However, high concentration may lead to skin redness, itching, sun sensitivity, and skin thickening.

Kojic acid

Scientists have proven that it is an effective whitener, and its usage is allowed. However, it has side effects, including skin redness and eczema.


That is mostly used in pills and sometimes in creams because the body also produces antioxidants.

Tranexamic acid

In 2007, tentative effects on Tranexamic acid were found beneficial in melasma.

Azelaic acid

Azelaic has often been used in laser treatments. This agent may be a second option to melasma.

Are skin whitening pills safe?

Some whitening pills and supplements are not safe, especially those not approved by the FDA. As the buyer, read through the labels on packages well to determine how safe they are for your body. Unauthorized health products such as creams or gels may risk your overall health. It would help if you took these skin whitening pills under the advice of your dermatologist, who can help you figure out the right medications best suited to you.

  • Unauthorized and un-prescribed lightening products might pose health risks like scarring, skin deterioration, weakening, inability to fight infections, blistering, and possible cancer if hydroquinone concentration is greater than 2%.
  • Unauthorized supplements might also contain harmful levels of mercury, which poses a great threat to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children.
  • What to consider when buying skin whitening products
  • Carefully read product labels to verify the product.
  • Talk to your health care professional about your choice to lighten your skin.
  • Undergo every health procedure to determine your allergies that will help in selecting the appropriate product for you.
  • Read government healthcare information about health products and drugs online.
  • Report any product you find that violates healthcare regulations
  • Also, report any adverse reaction to a skin lightening product

Ingredients to look for when buying skin whitening pills

  • Vitamin c
  • Alpha and Beta Hydroxy acids
  • Retinol
  • Kojic acid
  • Citric acid
  • Niacinamide

Ingredients to avoid

  • Parabens
  • Hydroquinone
  • Mercury

What are the side effects of skin lightening pills?

Despite the whitening benefits, skin whitening pills and pills can have adverse side effects. Some of these side effects may include;

Skin allergies

That is one of the most common side effects of skin whitening pills. These reactions may range from swelling to rushes.


Some skin whitening pills contain hydroquinone, which is considered carcinogenic. Some countries have outlawed using hydroquinone for health reasons.

Disruption of normal skin function

Your skin naturally produces melanin that determines your skin color, and introducing whitening agents will disrupt normal function. That might cause patches on your skin.

Physical stress

That is similar to a child swallowing a penny. The child will suffer from headaches, vomiting, and diarrhea, like whitening supplements. In prolonged usage, the ingredients used can cause you physical stress, sickness, and symptoms like nausea, sleepiness, indigestion, and insomnia.

Liver failure

When used in excess, most medicines cause liver damage irrespective of the medicine due to liver overload. Therefore, keep in mind that every medication has its limitations, be it pills, injections or creams. Consult your doctor to understand the potential harm of the medicines.

Other side effects of whitening pills include

  • Trouble breathing due to bronchial constriction
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal cramps

How long does it take to realize results?

Skin whitening pills have proven to work, but the results are not as quick as you might hope for. The first three months might seem like you’ve wasted your money. For individuals with light brown skin, the lightening effects might start to appear in 3 to 6 months; those with very dark skin might take up to six to twelve months, while those with black skin might take eighteen months?

Is skin whitening permanent?

If done well, some skin whitening pills leave an almost permanent effect, while others leave a temporary effect on your skin. However, remember that altering the course of nature isn’t easy. It will be painful, expensive, and dangerous.


While some whitening agents are allowed in cosmetics, others are not, and other countries still use harmful agents such as mercury in cosmetics. These products are often sold online and do not have tangible sources. Therefore, when shopping online, pay attention to all the above factors. Also, note that some supplements have agents that are beneficial to your body, like L-cysteine and carotenoids.

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