Being a dermatologist who also deals with cosmetology and beauty needs of patients, I come across quite a few patients who come to me with expectations of getting a fairer, whiter skin tone.
One of the fundamental things that I advise my patients is that it is better to aim for a healthier skin rather than a fairer skin.
Having said this, toning of skin and the effective ‘skin lightening’ or ‘skin whitening’ that a patient experiences is an inherent part of skin rejuvenation processes.
Through this article I will use the words ‘skin toning’ or ‘skin lightening’ or ‘skin whitening’ or ‘skin brightening’ interchangeably. I would urge the reader to understand that these are all reference procedures and results which are mainly aimed at rejuvenating the skin while keeping the patient’s health always as the first priority.
So how does skin get its color?
Skin gets its color and shade from the presence of a pigment called melanin. The presence of melanin and its concentration in the skin is determined primarily by your genes and then based on the environment to which your skin is exposed. Higher the exposure to sunlight, higher is the presence of melanin and consequently darker the skin tone. As a matter of fact, darker the skin the better protection your skin gets from diseases like skin cancer.
And how do skin lightening treatments work?
All skin lightening procedures work by affecting or reducing the pigmentation (coloring) in the skin. All oral medications, topical applications or non-invasive procedures work towards reducing the pigmentation in the skin by affecting the concentration of melanin.
Exactly, how much lighter can my skin get?
As mentioned, for the most part your skin color is determined by your genes. As a consequence of this, it is important to understand that fundamentally it is not possible for a person to become ‘white’ from ‘black’ or vice versa. Having said that, it is possible for the skin to become a shade or two lighter. But more importantly it is the evenness of the skin tone, its texture and health that gives the so-called ‘glow’ to the skin.
As for the various doubts that I come across when it comes to skin rejuvenation treatments in Mumbai, it’s almost an infinite list. I have tried capturing some common doubts in form of the myths that surround the topic, below:
My friend has recommended this current trending vitamin C serum with X Y and Z ingredients for whitening my skin.
I highly recommend that before starting any form of medications or topical applications for your skin, speak to a skin specialist you trust. A qualified dermatologist will examine your skin and help you create a proper holistic skin care routine with the help of medications and creams which are FDA approved and proven to bring the results you may desire. Often over the counter creams tend to mislead patients and promise a whole lot more than they can actually deliver and in the worst cases even cause substantial adverse reactions.
Skin doctors over complicate things and recommend procedures that people do not need. All you need is ‘this amazing over the counter cream.’
Doctors only recommend procedures that are in line with the patient’s expectations and we are all sworn to first ‘do no harm’. A procedure that any skin doctor recommends is based on scientific and empirical evidence. Also understand that there is no cure-all topical application or oral medication that has been invented thus far for a healthier skin. Skin rejuvenation or achieving healthier skin is a journey and requires multiple forms of interventions from simple topical applications to more complex forms of treatments like lasers and peels over a long period of time.
Myth # 3
Skin lightening is the same as skin bleaching.
This is one of the most common misconceptions. Skin bleaching creams have harmful ingredients like mercury which can lead to mercury toxicity, dermatitis etc. Medically approved skin lightening or skin toning procedures and creams on the other hand work towards gentle reduction of melanin and are better at targeting melanin cells alone and do not cause any collateral damage to the other areas of skin.
Myth # 4
Lasers can cause cancer because of radiation.
The lasers used for skin toning can vary from ND-Yag Lasers to IPL. However all of these lasers are medically approved and cause no harm to the skin in any manner. These are targeted therapies used medically for many years and are extremely safe for human contact.
Myth # 5
Natural and organic topical applications are better and safer.
It is in fact quite the contrary. Any skin rejuvenation topical application that targets pigmentation needs to have an active ingredient. In the case of these so called organic or natural substances the form and concentration of such active ingredients is not controlled. In fact these can cause adverse reactions because of not being formally tried or tested for safety and efficacy.
Myth # 6
My mom, grand-mom, aunt etc. recommend using home remedies like turmeric, lemon, sandalwood etc.
I do not actively encourage using any of these for a simple reason that we do not know if
If you absolutely must try these out, please do so on a small non exposed area of the skin first for a substantial period of time and a few times, before even thinking of using these on a sensitive area like face.
On a personal note, I believe that turmeric, lemon etc. are best kept in the kitchen and not on your dressing table.
Myth # 7
I can get skin damage and burns from lasers and any other skin rejuvenation procedure.
All skin rejuvenation techniques and medications used by dermatologists have undergone formal testing around the world and have been found to be very safe.
Also note, for example, at my clinic, InUrSkn, even if an aesthetician is carrying out a procedure she has undergone a CIDESCO certification and has been personally trained by me in protocols that I have worked with and evolved for years.
However if you are unsure, you should ask for a simple patch test for any procedure or medication and then proceed further.
Lastly remember, you will be under the care of a trained and qualified skin specialist who will ensure your safety.
Myth # 8
Skin Rejuvenation or Skin Brightening can happen overnight.
Skin brightening is an additive process that uses multiple techniques with multiple sessions over a period of time. Also, skin like any other part of your body needs constant care. I have had patients who roam about in the sun with no sun protection and expect their skin to glow like the moon. One must understand that skin rejuvenation is a journey and one must have the patience for it.
This article is not a complete list of things that one may come across as doubts or thoughts but provides a good understanding of the skin rejuvenation process.
In the end, remember:
No matter what you call it: Skin lightening, skin whitening, skin brightening, skin toning or skin rejuvenation; they are all a part of getting a healthier blemish-free skin. So, always begin with a simple consultation with a skin doctor to clarify any doubts you may have and set realistic goals for yourself and your skin.
The objective of this article is to educate the reader and help them make wiser choices under the guidance of a trained dermatologist. It is not meant to be used by patients for self-diagnosis or for avoiding proper medical treatment. The images used in the above blog are only for visual representation purposes. Actual procedure and results may vary from patient to patient.
About Dr. Sejal Saheta and InUrSkn:
Built on more than a decade of experience of Dr. Sejal Saheta, we are an honest and affordable skin and hair care clinic in Powai, Mumbai. Our goal is to make each patient comfortable and happy with their appearance with the least amount of intervention.
Dr. Sejal Saheta has dual degrees of MD and DNB in dermatology and venereology and has worked alongside some of the senior most doctors at the largest hospitals in Mumbai.
Located in Powai, InUrSkn is the largest skin and hair clinic in central suburbs of Mumbai and offers the latest technology in the safety of world class infrastructure.
We are happy to be a part of your journey to reach your health goals. If you think we have been able to help you, please do review us:
On Practo: https://prac.to/vkpj
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How can Dr. Sejal and InUrSkn help?
No matter what your skin and hair needs, Dr Sejal Saheta ensures personal attention to each patient and creates customized and scientifically-backed treatment plans for each patient. Through her years of experience and use of technology at her clinic (InUrSkn – Skin and Hair Clinic) located in Powai, Mumbai, she has been able to consistently deliver great results in the field of dermatology, trichology and cosmetology to thousands of patients.
Also Inurskn offers a plethora of skin rejuvenation treatments like:
All of the above is done with the best-in-class machines within the comfort and safety of a world class infrastructure.