Did you know that the skin is the largest organ in every human’s body? It is your first line of defense against infection and disease, which explains why your skin becomes darker as you age. Just think about this.
Every time you expose yourself to Mr. Sun, or battle everyday with pollution, or follow an unhealthy lifestyle, you make your skin vulnerable to pigmentation and compromise its overall health.
When your skin starts to darken, the first thing you will do is to rush to the nearest drugstore and buy bleaching products. Wrong. First things first – skin lightening creams and lotions, although effective, contain harmful chemicals that can damage your skin.
Second, you’ll end up paying a lot of your hard-earned money,only to realize later on that you are doing more harm than good to your skin. You may think you’ll get more if you pay more for treatment, but often with commercial product with false claims, this means saying bye-bye to savings.
So what is the best way to deal with dark skin and pigmentation? Go natural, of course. There are a lot of natural ingredients you can use to lighten and tone your skin, such as:
1. Citrus Extracts
Every time you read an article related to skin and how to take care of it, you will find lemon, lime and other citrus extracts on the list.
This is because since time immemorial, people have trusted in citrus extracts to lighten their skin without any side effects. And if you notice, you will often find lemon and orange peels among recipes for skin lightening.
Why Is That So?
Citrus extracts are packed with vitamin C, making them an excellent bleaching agent. Vitamin C plays an important role in producing collagen fibers, which helps support your skin and makes it stay firm.
It also nourishes your skin by helping new cells grow, while getting rid of dead and dark skin cells. At the same time, this vitamin slows down the hyperactive melanocytes’ power to produce melanin in the basal layers of the skin, so you don’t have to worry about getting darker.
All you have to do is to apply lemon juice on your face to whiten your skin. Or dry orange peels under the sun, and then grind them into a fine powder. Mix the powder with milk or yogurt and apply it to your face. You can see the difference when you do this regularly.
2. Licorice Extract
Did you know that a licorice plant is a legume and a member of the pea family? You probably have heard or read about licorice extract as a staple ingredient in most skin whitening products, but back in the day, early civilization used this plant for medicinal purposes.
In fact, in Chinese medicine, they extract the juice from the roots of the licorice plant to use as a treatment for all kinds of skin conditions.
Sometime in the early 90’s, Japanese scientists found out that licorice contains a compound called glabridin. They discovered that this ingredient can absorb UVA and UVB rays and can act as a powerful and effective skin whitening element. At the same time, it has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe your skin and reduce redness.
Thanks to the Japanese scientists, experts from all over the world decided to look into glabridin and realized that it can slow down the activity of the tyrosinase enzyme by up to 50 percent without damaging the skin cells. This means licorice extract can be effective in treating post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and reverse the damage caused by acne scars, too.
You may not be a fan of Indian food, but surely, turmeric deserves a space in your kitchen cabinet. Did you know that since the ancient times, people have used this Indian spice to treat various skin conditions?
Turmeric has the capacity to act as a natural skin softener to make your skin smooth and supple.
And if you have been under the sun for quite sometime and your sun block has failed you and your skin, then you should know that turmeric can also be your best friend when it comes to skin lightening.
It hinders the formation of melanin, or the pigment responsible for making your skin darker, and lightens your skin tone.
Don’t worry. This spice also has antiseptic and antioxidant properties that can be good for your skin’s overall health. So, what are you waiting for? Mix turmeric powder and milk or cream until it forms into a paste and apply it on your skin. Once dry, wash it off with lukewarm water. Don’t forget to do this everyday for best results.
One of the popular fruits in most tropical countries is papaya. It is sweet and tasty and most importantly, it can be your skin’s best friend.
How Is That Possible?
Papaya is packed with vitamins A and C, which are known to be in good terms with your skin. More importantly, this fruit contains an enzyme called papain. This enzyme can clear off dead skin cells and with the help of vitamins A and C.
It also nourishes the skin and helps generate new skin cells. In other words, it has natural bleaching properties, because it’s packed with various nutrients to make your skin lighter and healthier.
If you can’t eat it, just mash a ripe papaya and mix it with a cup of lemon juice. Massage it on your face and neck and leave it on for 30 minutes before rinsing it with cold water.
Or, you can just rub the inner part of the skin of papaya on your face and allow it to dry before washing it with cold water. It will still work the same.
5. Indian Gooseberry
No, it is not a smaller version of lime, or a plant that looks like a smaller tomato, but only green in color. Indian gooseberry is actually a plant packed with vitamin C, which is essential in keeping your skin light, even-toned and healthy.
Once extracted, the juices from this plant have unique antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that can protect your skin from sun damage. At the same time, it helps suppress hyper-pigmentation or darkening of the skin.
Various studies also showed that Indian gooseberry can protect your skin against oxidative stress, reduce wrinkles and retain your skin’s natural moisture.
Between hydroquinone and Indian gooseberry, it is advisable to go for gooseberry. Aside from being a natural ingredient, it is safer on your skin, too.
6. Aloe Vera Gel
When you hear the term aloe vera, the first thing that comes into your mind is “treatment for hair conditions.” Yes, it can be an effective treatment for dry, damaged hair, but did you know it can also be your skin’s best friend and melanin’s worst enemy?
Aloe vera is packed with organic antiseptic elements that are capable of destroying harmful bacteria and toxins living on your skin. It is also capable of reducing the darkening of your skin, while evening out your skin tone to get rid of dark patches.
And don’t worry, because aloe vera is also capable of soothing your skin. It also speeds up the formation of new cells to repair the damaged tissues and improve your skin’s overall complexion.
To use it, just cut the outer layers of an aloe vera leaf and squeeze out the jelly-like substance. Apply the thick gel thoroughly on your skin and leave it on for thirty minutes before washing it off with water. You can also use aloe vera gel if you can’t find an aloe vera plant near you. Do this twice a day for two weeks and you will see lighter, even-toned skin.
7. Bearberry Extract
That’s b-e-a-r and not b-u-r, ladies so don’t confuse yourselves. Bearberry extract that comes from the leaves of the bearberry plant is an effective natural method to lighten and tone your skin.
In case it’s the first time you heard of this plant, a lot of astringents sold in the market today have bearberry extract. This is because it contains an ingredient called alpha arbutin, known to lighten your skin fast.
It also effectively treats skin discolorations. Bearberry extract contains sun protection filters to make sure you don’t get over-tanned when exposed to the sun.
And if you are worried about looking ten years older than your actual age, this plant extract promotes anti-aging of the skin, too.
If your skeptic self is telling your brain not to believe it, a one-month study was conducted on 80 Chinese women where they were asked to use one percent alpha arbutin concentration. After a month, the researchers saw an improvement on the participants’ skin, making the skin lightening effect of this extract a fact.
You know your skin is delicate. One wrong ingredient can ruin your skin’s composition, which can leave permanent marks on your face – and you don’t want that. Therefore, be careful with what you apply on your face, especially when you’re trying to lighten your skin.
And even if the ones listed here are natural ingredients, that doesn’t mean you are exempt from the side effects, especially if you’re prone to skin allergies. Too much of everything can be bad, so take it easy.