Skin Lighteners and skin brighteners
Legal definitions are supposed to help us navigate skin care products, but competing words often just add to consumer confusion. The FDA allows only hydroquinone to claim that it can lighten the skin. This widely used ingredient acts by preventing new melanin production so overtime the darkened cells naturally turnover and are replaced by healthy unpigmented cells. Because it is regulated by the FDA, products with hydroquinone are required to list their concentrations on the label. Over the counter skin lighteners have between 1-4% hydroquinone, while prescription treatment products can have higher levels.
However there are a number of ingredients like soy and licorice root that have been shown to be able to improve skin clarity. Soy and niacinomide can prevent melanin formation while others like Kojic Acid can break down existing melanin. Dozens of good quality studies have shown many of these ingredients to be effective, but the FDA will only allow them to say they are skin brighteners, not skin lighteners. So while research has shown these ingredients to work, its hard to tell which product to buy because the manufacturer is not required to list the concentration of these other melanin fighters on the label.
My personal recommendation is to look for combination products that use agents that both inhibit and breakdown melanin. And whatever treatment product you select, make certain to use a strong mineral sun screen to prevent further UV damage
Do Epison salts really work?Epsom salt is an inorganic salt that is composed of magnesium (Mg), sulfate (SO4), and seven water molecules (heptahydrate). Named after the town Epsom in England where the saline mineral water was boiled by the locals for their use, Epsom salt is commonly used as a laxative in medical practices and sometimes as a disinfectant to wounds. However, there is no evidence to support the benefits that some professionals and health gurus claim.
A search on scientific literature websites, including PubMed and Research Gate, yields no evidence or research supporting the claims of Epsom salt. However, there are a few researches that examined magnesium sulfate’s effect on low blood magnesium, severe tetanus, irregular heart rhythm, and ecalmpsia, according to science writer and registered massage therapist Paul Ingraham. Even so, he proposed that the lack of research in the claimed benefits of Epsom salt may be that “researchers just aren’t ‘interested’ or they simply can’t get funding for the work.”
The only study that showed any relevance to the subject was conducted at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. In the study, 19 subjects, who are the staff of School of Biosciences of the university, all took an Epsom salt bath for 12 minutes at a water temperature of between 50 to 55 degrees Celsius (122 to 133 degrees Fahrenheit) over seven consecutive days. Blood samples were taken before the first bath, at the second hour after the first bath, and at the second hour after the seventh bath. Urine samples were collected before and at the second hour of every bath.
At the end of the study, all but two of the subjects had higher magnesium concentration in their blood. Those who didn’t have higher blood magnesium concentration had higher magnesium in their urine. Sulfate levels were high both in blood and urine of all subjects. Researchers concluded that “magnesium ions had crossed the skin barrier and had been excreted via the kidney” and that Epsom salt bath “is a safe and easy way to increase sulfate and magnesium levels in the body.”
Not everyone accepts that this is a valid evidence that Epsom salt could penetrate the skin and provide its benefits. “This seems like a poor quality study,” said massage therapist Samuel McCracken, who practices in Brisbane, Australia. “There’s no control group, and an assumption that it was absorbed through the skin and not inhaled or ingested. And (there is) no proposed mechanism.”
The lack of a control group already made the study’s claims less valid. “The importance of having a control group could be shown this way. What if I had a hot bath with no Epsom salts and (researchers) measured my magnesium levels and found they were elevated afterwards due to dehydration by sweating in the hot bath? This could lead to a higher concentration of blood magnesium.”read more here
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