The Difference between Skin Whitening & Skin Bleaching

The cosmetic market has a myriad of products that whiten and bleach skin. Then again, is there any difference between skin whitening and skin bleaching? The difference is often obscured; hence, we need to shed some light on this matter.

Skin whitening and skin bleaching are never alike, according to the National Health Service. If you have heard about skin bleaching before, you probably realize that skin bleaching has a rather bad press. Both skin whitening and skin bleaching treatments are designed to improve your complexion, but the difference of the two mostly dwells in the combination of ingredients used.

What is Skin Bleaching?

Skin bleaching aims to correct certain dark areas of your skin. It aims at reducing melanin on hyper-pigmented skin by disrupting melanin production; hence, causing drastic changes to the pigment concentration. Contrary to its name, skin bleaching does not involve bleach. Skin bleaching products are formulated with hydroquinone.

Some illegal products contain mercury, which can be life threatening. Hydroquinone itself holds a potent prowess in depigmentation.

It is so potent that the FDA suggests only a maximum dosage of 2%. Moreover, Dr. Andrea Kassim, a notable and highly skilled dermatologist at the Dermatology Group from New Jersey, mentioned that skin bleaching is not purely cosmetic but also a form of treatment for post inflammatory pigmentations and other skin problems.

Bleaching is highly favorable for treating melasma, keloids, acne scars, and birthmarks among others.

Can Skin Bleaching Whiten Skin By More Than Two Shades?

Skin bleaching aims to correct hyper-pigmented skin, such as underarms and bikini lines. Likewise, it is often prescribed by dermatologists to address certain skin issues. Michael Jackson, for instance, resorted to skin bleaching due to vitiligo.

Regardless, you can achieve a much paler skin tone with bleaching. Beyonce, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj are just a few Hollywood personalities who bleached their skin. However, bleaching products contain aggressive ingredients that predispose long-term damage when misused.

Should you be pressured to bleach your skin as well? Before you make up your mind, take note of a few indispensable side effects:


If your work requires you to always stay outdoors, you had better not consider bleaching your entire body. Bleached skin increases your susceptibility to UV damage as well as your risk of skin cancer.

Allergic reactions

People’s responses to certain chemicals vary from one person to another. Allergic reactions are inevitable particularly for those who have sensitive skin or have weaker immune responses.

Thinning of skin

Healthy skin renews itself, although the rate depends on your body’s ability to produce collagen. On the contrary, skin bleaching could force your skin to strip a healthy layer of fresh skin cells each time.

Liver damage

Everything is routed to the liver. The liver acts as a filter that detoxifies toxins and chemical substances. Frequent exposure to aggressive chemicals can cause liver damage.

White cast on the skin

In the long run, skin bleaching makes you appear ghostly white instead of making you glow with radiance.

How Does Skin Whitening Differ from Skin Bleaching?

Skin whitening, on the other hand, involves the use of anti-oxidants and natural extracts to improve a lackluster complexion. Ingredients may include Alpha hydroxyl acids such as lactic acid and glycolic acid, beta hydroxyl salicylic acid, vitamin A, vitamin E, Vitamin C, arbutin, papain, and kojic acid, the most popular whitening agent thus far.

UV damage, stress, hormonal imbalance, and pollution dull your complexion. Regardless how the skin can naturally renew itself, the rate of cell turnover depends on the collagen production of your body. When dead cells accumulate, your skin will look arid and unrefined.

Kojic acid in particular, promotes natural exfoliation; hence, helps even out your skin tone, makes your skin feel smoother and more supple without thinning your skin. Consequently, it makes your skin look clearer and brighter. Exfoliation does not necessarily whiten your complexion at some degree similar to skin bleaching, but it definitely sloughs off dead skin cells that cause your skin to look dull.

Furthermore, naturally derived whitening agents have proven just as effective as hydroquinone but without posing life-threatening side effects. However, all-natural skin whitening is ephemeral and requires gradual maintenance. Even so, it is effective and safe for long-term use.


The cosmetic industry refers to the use of natural products with subsequently less side effects as skin whitening. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industries as well as dermatologists speak of skin bleaching as more aggressive with potentially serious side effects. Thus, it must be dealt with accordingly with a dermatologist’s supervision.

Fortunately, nature offers a list of skin whiteners, which have proven to be just as efficient as hydroquinone. Therefore, it is much better to find a good all-natural skin-whitening product. 

Note: On this website we only promote safe skin whitening products through both Amazon and our partner site, Sublime Skin Lab. A full array of these products can be found on our Product Reviews page.

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