The Harmful Effects of Skin Whitening Creams…

September 26, 2006

29856556961.jpgCant help it but overheard 2 ladies in the airport lounge while on the way to Manila for a lecture yesterday talking about how her skin became so white! I thought of asking these ladies to be careful because recently  The Food and Drug Administration proposed a ban on over-the-counter sales of skin-lightening products, saying possible health risks cannot justify their being sold without a prescription.

Yo can see these creams being marketed on TV or radio and at present there are now 135 products being sold as bleaching creams.  What the public is unaware of is that these creams have been linked to possible side effects. Specifically careful with creams that contain a drug called hydroquinone.  This substance is a possible carcinogen that has been researched to cause cancer in rodents as well as linked to a skin-disfiguring condition called ochronosis that results in darkening and thickening of the skin with occasional grayish spots. While the actual risk of the drug is unknown, the US FDA expressed that the products should be restricted to prescription use under medical supervision.

It is to be recalled that in 1990, the FDA also declared another skin-bleaching drug ammoniated mercury as unsafe.

 The NIH website mentions that under the proposed FDA rule, “all skin-bleaching products — prescription and over-the-counter — would be considered new drugs. Manufacturers would have to seek FDA approval to sell them, and only then with a doctor’s note.”

So my friends… who are into vanity and skin whitening regimen…it’s about time for you to take a second look at those creams and reconsider and weigh the risks and benefits you’ll get from using them!

Protect Your Skin From Harm!


81 Responses to “The Harmful Effects of Skin Whitening Creams…”

  1. maxim Says:

    If you would ask me, women who have “kayumanggi” complexion is far more beautiful than bleached women.

  2. deron Says:

    what about pills that does not contain hydroquinone, and or mercury. some whitening pills have whats called “L-GLUTATHIONE ” is safe. our body produce this substance on our own. What do you think?

  3. Doc Gerry Says:

    It is in fact not advisable to take anything by mouth especially drugs with no proven benefits. Proven benefits mean… qualifies NIH funded, research based placebo controlled multicenter trials…then published in peer reviewed journals NOT in throw away journals which supplement makers also publish promoting their own product.

    Any product that has effects should be proven to be safe meaning no untoward effects more than placebo arm of the trial. If a drugs proves to be more hramful then it will not be approved.

    Glutathione is a supplement meaning ” you take the drug at your own risk”

    In short…I dont recommend it even if their markleting arm says they work… give me papers to prove they work and studies that are placebo controlled…done in a well respected site and published in a well repsected journal- with the main aim of the study to look if it really whitens the skin. Dont look at studies that says otherwise…like glutathione is a potent anticarcinogenic…etc. It should be astudy that lookled at Glutathione and its effects on skin whitening.

    Hope I answered your query.

  4. […] or whatever the Maoists call themselves into banning these crazy skin-whitening products? We know they’re bad for you, but I can’t imagine why a people would allow their stores to so […]

  5. mark Says:

    doc ask ko lang poh if nakatutulong poh ba yung vit. C para poh macontroll yung mga possible na side effects nung mga whitening products ?

    or yung vit. C poh ba yung kelangan para poh pumuti ?
    para poh kasi sa researhed work namin…

  6. Doc Gerry Says:

    No data on thre role of Vitamin C in that aspect. Plus… I dont recommend these products due to the possible side effects associated with them in long term use

  7. love Says:

    so which whitening product is recommended if we STILL want to use it? 🙂

  8. haylee Says:

    doc, there’s this SPA that offers body bleaching services, 500php per session. and they said u have to do it for 7 consecutive days “for best results” i’m kind of tempted to go for it.
    would this still be bad for me? even if it’s just for 7 days? pls tell me what you think, i’d really like to know. thank you 🙂

  9. clare Says:


    • Doc Gerry Says:

      Glutathione is one product I dont recommend because we dont have any medically proven scientifically based studies published in peer reviewed journal done by reputable insitutions to prove their mechanism of action, their effects and side effetcs. If you search the internet, all data on glutathione are from manufacturers of the product and they can cite any sources they like which for the laymen, they look reliable but for the medical practiutioners, all these proofs are not scientifically acceptable! Do we know the long term side effects of these drugs? nobody knows…we dont even know how they work… dont immediately believe what these beauty experts tell you…look for evidences.. look for proofs NOT personal proofs by customers or anecdotal reports. Be on the alert for products that are not approved for medical use. BFAD Approved as supplements means…take it at your own risk!

  10. yungblieb Says:

    hi Doc,

    it seems your answers to Glutathione is very sceptic, that is: one should be afraid of taking it? Well I am kind of sceptic, because I have started taking Glutathione and I don’t know what are the long term side effect it has. Could you please give more clear reply to this question.

    Thank you

    • Doc Gerry Says:

      Yungblieb…the problem with glutathione is that they have no good data to support their calim. Long term side effects? Ask the companies that makes it… make them assure you that their product is safe long term becuase there are no studies so far looking at that. In short just like any supplements…take it at your own risk…whew!

      • char Says:

        Hi doc, my best friend has been using a bleaching cream plus a bleaching lotion that she purchased from an online store.

        Those creams were unbranded. You know, the usual bleaching with with just a bleaching cream label on it. She used it for about a week. She placed it on her face and she pealed a bit then she stopped using it on her face. She told me that she also applied it on her underarms and groin and she said that she experienced peeling of the dark skin but those parts especially the groin part became reddish now and sometimes itchy. She said, those aren’t dark anymore but they are red now. She already stopped using the cream and lotion and she puts rosehip oil or cocoa butter instead on those areas. She’s a bit scared of what’s happening to her skin. Is that effect something ordinary or is it dangerous? What can she do to take that red color off from her skin?

        Thanks a lot and will be waiting for your reply.

  11. so mee Says:

    please are there any bad effects of using cream with hydroquinone of 2%?….specifically-palmer’s skin success fade cream-especially since i’m just 19years!!It also contains sunscreen! and what does SPF(sun protection factor) entail!! thanks

  12. hi Says:

    So my mom had under arms that were a darker coloured skin tone. She decided to go bleach it, but becuase she’s originally from asia she got bleaching stuff from asian which i gues were kinda strong.
    she did not know but she would put the cream on at night and not put powder to stop it from going on other parts so she got random bleached spots on parts of her body cause she would go to sleep right away. so she decided to bleach her whole body (i had a bad feeling about this and it is taking forever) and she is alot whiter than before. do you know if she can do anything to prevent anything bad from happening or if she should do anyhting about it. thank you

  13. Vivvy Says:

    Please also beware of the FDA! It has been known to be influenced and manipulated by big pharmaceutical companies as almost everything else in the medical profession.

  14. It’s news simply because you make it into current information. has Five shortcuts to stories similar to this on their main page, including this one

  15. Yes i have heard that the stars take some kind of shot to fade their skin if so can i get them at my doctor office.

    • char Says:

      Hi doc, my best friend has been using a bleaching cream plus a bleaching lotion that she purchased from an online store.

      Those creams were unbranded. You know, the usual bleaching with with just a bleaching cream label on it. She used it for about a week. She placed it on her face and she pealed a bit then she stopped using it on her face. She told me that she also applied it on her underarms and groin and she said that she experienced peeling of the dark skin but those parts especially the groin part became reddish now and sometimes itchy. She said, those aren’t dark anymore but they are red now. She already stopped using the cream and lotion and she puts rosehip oil or cocoa butter instead on those areas. She’s a bit scared of what’s happening to her skin. Is that effect something ordinary or is it dangerous? What can she do to take that red color off from her skin?

      Thanks a lot and will be waiting for your reply.

  16. Please unpost my question ,but answer my question though my email please. thank-you

  17. Adeedas Says:

    Hi Dr gary, I want to lighten my skin, can you tell me the way to do it.

  18. pj Says:

    Hi Doc,
    I used Porcelana with 2% hydroquinone and had a terrible reaction on my face. i have red welts, dry severe bumpiness and I need help. Can you recommend something to help heal my face?

    Desperate toheal.

  19. whew! Says:

    you are just telling us strictly not to use bleaching cream, but no other products which we have to, and also the remedies what one should take even if used…..???

  20. betty(dark skinned) Says:

    i read this with interest. am not against skin bleaching at all. but i just would like to see poeple appreciate their color more. in Africa skin bleaching is associated with bad characters..if you know what i mean. in fact you will not find women using skin bleaches easily and those who do are usually viewed negatively. why? because they love their skin. i tell my friends all the time, if ever they feel like bleaching, they should take a vacation to Africa and they will definitly learn something out of the trip.

    skin bleaching is ok but why bleach in the first place if you do not feel insecure. if you start flaunting your beautiful color today, you will be amazed by the response you will get

    good luck

  21. jossy Says:

    hi doc,
    ive been using a skin lightening product on my face for about 5 years now without knowing what it contained.and only recently ive been made aware that it has hydroquinone,which ive done research and have found that its ive now stopped using the product but i keep getting this burning feeling and it itches.what can i do or use to stop this? please reply

  22. jumbo-- Says:

    hi doc,
    i am very curious about the product of this certain company promoting their product which is the glutathione soap, glutathione capsule and glutathione lotion,..they said that their product is safe and BFAD approved and these products do not contain hydroquinone…do you think that these products are safe and had no side effects even though they do not contain hydroquinone?

  23. samindri Says:

    hi doctor!
    thanks for providing so much unknown information regarding skin whitening products.
    i recently started to use a cream which includes tea hydroxybenzene, essence of alga, arnutin. i would like to know if there is any harm in using this cream? thank you once again

  24. tela grey Says:

    are all skin bleaching creams products harmful such as one you buy fom walgreens r sumthing

  25. Lena Says:

    Dear Doctor,
    I have an olive skin colour that tans very easy but recently i developed a brown spot on my nose and in both of my cheeks. After years of contraseption pills i started to show signs of photosensitivity. I would like to ask you if a bleaching cream, like e.g artexan, can make my skin even less sun tolerant? I am conserned for the future as summer here last for at least 8 months! I dont want become more and more sun sensitive. I though of using essential oils and anti-oxidant suplements as a more stable and good-for-me treatment. But would that really help? What would you recommend? Thanking you in advance for your time and consern.
    Regards. Lena.

    • Doc Gerry Says:

      Hi Lena… bealching your skin can make you more sensitive to the harmful effect of the sun and therfore if you are one that enjoys the sun very much…then please avoid whitening creams.

  26. Rose Says:

    I use the bleaching creams from Black Opal. There is a day cream and night cream and then a soap. I have noticed my skin even toned. I don’t mind dark skin just as long as it is eventoned. Also the day cream has SPF 15 and I still put on extra facial sunscreen on top b/c it is suppose to pervent major darkening that can occur after you use the cream. Is there doctor a cream that is safe for bleaching?

  27. […] like Boots sell these creams in their stores, creams that are banned in this country because of the known harmful effects of them. The reason they want to look pale is that farm girls, who spend all day in the sun, have […]

  28. Muhammad Usama Says:

    hi doc
    i have great acne with oily skin….i use nuetrogena acne facewash but it didn’t work.i have small acne so tell me what should i do ????

  29. Lulu Says:

    Any idea about Bioderma’s White Objective Serum?

    • sumayya Says:

      I haven’t tried it yet.. bt I think the alcohol content is damaging for ur skin..I hv been interested in trying it for post inflammatory hyperpigmentation..if u hv used it lemme knw

  30. HK Says:

    I have been using whitening face cream from “Vichy”, 2 weeks after use, I got the worst Open pores red itched face. Now that I read the article, I seriousely doubt this the cream’s effect. I stopped using it. Hope my face will heal on its own!! will it?

  31. Blossom udoh Says:

    Hi doc…am 18 years and have been using lightening lotions for some time now. I change my cream so often and i have started developing green veins. Please will concentratting on one lotion get rid of the green veins?

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