What are the Different Types of Whitening Lotion?

N. Swensson

Skin whitening lotion is most often used to lighten a person's skin tone; it also can be used to minimize the appearance of freckles and other skin discolorations. Other terms for this process include skin lightening, skin brightening, and skin bleaching. Most types of whitening lotion or cream include ingredients to reduce the production of melanin in the skin.

Whitening lotion.
Whitening lotion.

The amount of melanin determines a person’s skin color — people with lighter skin tones have less melanin, while those with darker skin have more. In addition to reducing melanin production, many whitening products contain sunscreen to protect against further sun-related darkening or freckling. Skin whitening lotion and cream use a variety of ingredients to accomplish these goals.

Arbutin, which is an extract of the bearberry plant, stops the formation of melanin and is often used as a skin lightener.
Arbutin, which is an extract of the bearberry plant, stops the formation of melanin and is often used as a skin lightener.

Many of the active ingredients in skin whitening products work by stopping the production of tyrosinase, the enzyme in the skin that produces melanin. These substances include arbutin, licorice extract, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), hydroquinone, and kojic acid.

Arbutin is a relatively new product in the skin whitening market, and claims to be a safer, odorless alternative to products that contain hydroquinone. Arbutin is an extract of the bearberry tree. In addition to providing whitening benefits, arbutin claims to prevent free radical damage, thus helping the skin to appear younger. It also is sometimes used to minimize the effects of sun damage.

Vitamin C is another naturally occurring substance that may be used in some types of whitening lotion. The body cannot produce this vitamin on its own, so supplements are needed to receive its benefits. Skin whitening creams containing vitamin C are often used to reduce the production of melanin as well as stimulate the skin's production of collagen. Increased collagen can help to give the skin a more youthful appearance and reduce lines and wrinkles.

Other kinds of skin whitening lotion can contain vitamin A, or retinol. This vitamin has been used to provide a number of skin benefits, including acne treatment, treatment of sun damage, and skin brightening. It works by removing the top layer of skin to reveal a brighter, more even complexion for some people who use it.

Wide varieties of other ingredients in skin whitening lotion are currently available or are being researched. A visit to a dermatologist can help people interested in skin lightening to determine the types of products that may be most effective for them. A dermatologist may also help to identify any ingredients that should be avoided for people with certain types of skin problems or concerns.

Skin whitening lotion works by reducing or suppressing the body's production of melanin.
Skin whitening lotion works by reducing or suppressing the body's production of melanin.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


I used a skin lightening product called bio clear. Now my whole face is spotted and the spots are so much darker than my face and nothing seems to help. I am desperate and frustrated and in need of help. If there is anyone who can help, please do so. Much appreciated.


Personally, I’m quite afraid of products containing hydroquinone. Online there are a lot of negative opinions about this substance. One of my friends suggested I try k5 lipogel -- a bleaching cream that is hydroquinone free.


As far as I know, there are two main types of whitening lotion. One works fast but gives temporary results. It just makes skin look lighter for a short period of time. And then there are those which take longer to work but give more permanent results. I guess these are the ones that affect the production of melanin.

Has anyone tried both of these types? If so, what is your opinion of them?

I'm assuming that the temporary ones are less damaging to the skin and so might be better. But I'm not sure.


@fBoyle-- I agree with you that there are potentially dangerous whitening lotions on the market. But there are also really good, trustworthy ones made from natural ingredients instead of chemicals.

I've been using arbutin to lighten my skin color after the summer months and it has been working great. I haven't had any negative side effects with it. I've also used a face cream in the past that had tomato extract in it. Tomato is another natural ingredient that helps whiten skin.

I think all-natural lotions are the best skin whitening products. They may take longer to work, but at least they don't harm the skin and our health.

I don't use whitening lotion but I use many Asian skin products, and whitening lotions are very popular in Asia. Probably half or more than half of Asian skin care product include some kind of a whitening ingredient.

The reason I avoid them is because I'm afraid of their side effects. I don't know about all whitening ingredients but I have heard scary things about hydroquinone.

A friend of my used a skin bleaching cream with this ingredient for a couple of months and instead of her blemishes fading, she ended up getting more discoloration on her face. She's now being treated by a dermatologist.

I think people need to be really careful when picking and using whitening lotions.

Post your comments
Forgot password?