Side Effects of Skin Whitening Creams

Skin Whitening is now Absolutely Treatable

Throughout history and in some contemporary cultures, fair skin has been associated with beauty and social status. Skin bleaching is not a new concept. Millions of women around the world are looking for that perfect miracle product or a skin whitening treatment to acquire a whiter and glowing complexion. Many skin whitening creams on the market may contain harmful ingredients. Consulting a dermatologist before beginning any skin whitening regimen is essential for safety and effectiveness.

This article discusses the potential side effects of common skin whitening ingredients.

Harmful Agents in Whitening Products

Several skin whitening creams contain active ingredients known to cause side effects. Here is a list of few ingredients that are commonly found in almost all the skin whitening creams along with their side effects:


Hydroquinone [C6H4 (OH)2] is a skin lightening agent.  It is also used in various industrial applications, which underscores the importance of cautious and informed use in skincare. And you are putting that on your face!

Side Effects

  • Hydroquinone is considered potentially risky and may pose mutagenic and carcinogenic risks if misused.
  • Prolonged or unsupervised use of hydroquinone has been linked to an increased risk of thyroid disorders.
  • It may increase the risk of liver issues and adrenal dysfunction with prolonged misuse.
  • Hydroquinone may cause skin rashes and mild burning sensations, especially in those with sensitive skin.
  • It may increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, leading to a higher risk of sunburn, excessive redness, or skin cracking.


Mercury is used in a variety of skin creams, beauty soaps, and lotions that are widely available in the drug store. Common side effects include:

Side Effects

  • Initial side effects of mercury-containing products may include skin rashes and discoloration.
  • Prolonged use of products containing mercury can lead to skin damage and scarring.
  • Long-term exposure to mercury can lead to serious kidney and nervous system damage.

Mercury is banned in skin creams and beauty products in many countries due to its toxic effects.


Regrettably, some cosmetic products contain potent steroids among their ingredients, which could be harmful. While these ingredients can lighten skin, the health risks involved far outweigh the cosmetic benefits. Therefore, many dermatologists prefer that you go for skin whitening treatment instead of creams. Here is why:

Side Effects

While steroids are effective for treating conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis, their use for skin lightening is not recommended due to potential side effects, including:

  • Steroids may temporarily constrict blood vessels, which can lighten the skin appearance, but their use without medical supervision can lead to significant side effects.
  • They can slow down the cell regeneration process, which may affect melanocyte function.
  • They can cause thinning of the skin and lead to fine lines and wrinkles.

Are there safe alternatives?

Dermatologists can recommend a variety of skin whitening treatments that are deemed safe and effective based on individual skin types and needs. These include chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser treatments, among others.

What makes Laser a better choice?

There are numerous benefits of laser skin whitening, including:

  • It is a non-invasive procedure.
  • It offers quick results; within three to six sessions, your complexion may lighten by several tones.
  • Minimal downtime may be involved, depending on the individual’s response to the treatment.
  • Most individuals can resume daily activities soon after laser skin whitening, but recovery times vary by procedure and individual skin sensitivity.
  • Laser treatment results can be long-lasting, though individual experiences may vary and some maintenance treatments may be necessary.
  • It can effectively address various concerns, including uneven skin tone and dark spots.


In short, whitening creams are not a skin-friendly solution because of their harmful ingredients. Instead of using such creams, consulting a dermatologist to explore all treatment options, including laser skin whitening, is advisable. Dubai Cosmetic Surgery Clinic offers consultations to help tailor treatment plans to individual needs. To learn more, consider filling out the consultation form for personalized advice from our specialists. Alternatively, you can use our chat section to get your queries answered right away.