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What are the Difference between Skin Brightening and Skin Lightening?

Have you ever wondered about the difference between skin lightening and skin brightening techniques? Although these two terms are often used interchangeably, they are completely different from each other. Skin brightening and skin lightening are two different ways to gat rosier, healthier and younger-looking skin but different techniques and products are often used.

Women usually look for ways to improve the color of their skin. Dark-skinned women usually look for effective, safe and easy techniques for skin whitening and learning all about the difference between brightening and lightening could make all the difference. Here is a quick rundown of the differences between skin lightning and brightening.

Skin lightening explained

Skin lightening includes techniques that lighten the skin. Skin care products that are labelled skin lighteners lighten the skin several shades when used consistently. The most common active ingredient in skin lightening creams and lotions is chemical called tyrosinase inhibitors. The chemical stops the enzyme in the skin from producing melanin and this in turn returns the dermis into a healthier color.

When there is no melanin, the skin will not be able to darken even when exposed to sunlight. Skin will be whiter however it could be prone to skin damage.

The most common active ingredient in skin lightening is hydroquinone. In the United States, over-the-counter skin lightening products contain up to 2% hydroquinone but dermatologists can prescribe products with up to 4% to 6% concentrations. Talk to your doctor before you use products with hydroquinone and to follow your doctor’s prescription if you were told to use products with hydroquinone

Other skin lightening products contain steroids, retinoic acid and kojic acid. And no matter what kind of ingredient is found in a lightening product you must always remember that using these will make your skin more vulnerable to the harmful effects of the sun. You must use sunscreen daily and use physical protection from the sun’s harmful rays like wearing long sleeved shirts, using umbrellas and wide-brimmed hats.

About skin brightening

In skin brightening, the skin does not lighten several shades but it develops a natural radiance which brightens skin color and appearance. New skin cells are constantly being created by the skin to replace dead skin cells. But usually, dead skin cells remain on the surface of the skin and this causes the skin to look dull and dark. Skin frightening products will remove dead skin cells found at the topmost layer of the skin and over time will lead to a brighter and natural glow. The most common skin brighteners in the market include products labeled as micro-exfoliants.

Micro-exfoliants are usually in the form of facial washes, body washes and exfoliating scrubs that contain small grain-like or bead-like particles. When used against the face, the small beads move and scour the skin surface to remove dead skin. Regular use of skin brighteners will result in a rosy white skin since newer skin cells replace dead skin cells.

People who use skin brighteners are more prone to redness and darkening of the skin when exposed to sunlight for a prolonged period of time. Although dead skin cells create a dull appearance, it can protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays and therefore removing this outermost layer exposes new skin cells leading to redness and darkening.

Wearing sunblock and sunscreens will help shield new skin from the sun and prevent damage. Using physical shields such as clothing, umbrellas and hats are also effective in countering the effects of the sun.

Which one works best?

All in all, skin lightening is most effective in making skin whiter however there are a few disadvantages to using this type of product. For one, it affects melanin production to an extent that skin becomes very vulnerable to the effects of the sun. Harmful effects could be hyperpigmentation, skin irritation and cancers. Skin lightening is effective but when used for long periods could have detrimental effects on the skin. Whereas skin brightening is simply sloughing off the outer areas of the skin to make way for the younger and more radiant new skin underneath. It won’t affect melanin production but could still leave skin sensitive to the sun’s rays.

A dermatologist or skin care specialist will help you find the ideal skin whitening product for your skin type. If you have sensitive skin or if you have allergies or sensitivities, your dermatologist can advise an effective yet milder form of skin whitening that’s best for your skin.

Some of the most popular skin lightening and brightening treatments in the market today

Pink Madison Whitening Mask

This is a whitening cream mask that is used for correcting dark spots, brightening dark skin and for natural whitening. This whitening mask can be used for the face and body. It contains vitamin C, B3, lactic acid and various types of clay. Pink Madison is widely popular for Asians especially with Korean and Japanese women and even men.

Key West Natural Skin Lightening Cream and Dark Spot Corrector

This is a lightening cream with good reviews online. It can lighten skin and does not contain harmful hydroquinone mercury or parabens. It works on skin with age spots, liver spots and uneven skin color or skin tone. When used regularly, skin will look lighter, whiter and rosier.

Olay Regenerist MIcrodermabrasion and Peel System MIcrodermabrasion

This is a skin brightening cream that guarantees brighter and rosier skin when used regularly. It contains small beads that help slough off dead skin cells to resurface younger-looking new skin cells.


Skin lightening and skin brightening are two different ways to whiten skin. Skin lightening is more extensive since it lightens skin several shades by inhibiting the production of melanin while skin brightening only works along the surface of the skin by sloughing off outer layers made of dead skin cells. Special precautions should be remembered when using skin lighteners and brighteners with wearing sun protection at the top of the list.

There are many skin lightening and brightening products in the market and if you wish to whiten skin, make sure that you read product information closely, talk to a dermatologist or specialist and take special precaution when it comes to sun protection.

Do you have a few tips and suggestions when it comes to skin whitening and sun protection? We’ll be glad to hear it! Write it down at the comments section and let everyone know about it. And if you like this article, share it with people you know who also want to have whiter, healthier and younger-looking skin.