Natural skin bleaching is a bit of an oxymoron since, traditionally, skin bleaching refers to the process of lightening skin using chemical ingredients like hydroquinone and even mercury.
As you probably already know, mercury is a definite no-no. Even hydroquinone, while still regarded as safe by the FDA, definitely isn’t for everyone - especially not for those with darker skin tones, so check out our article on how to use it safely.
So what do we mean when we talk about natural skin bleaching? For starters, there’s no bleach involved. Instead, natural skin bleaching is just a term to refer to home remedies for skin whitening. This involves using natural ingredients that are capable of brightening dull, uneven skin tone and even lightening skin tone by a shade or two.
Instead of “bleaching” your skin, these natural ingredients work by inhibiting the production of melanin in the skin. Melanin is the natural pigment produced in your skin which gives its color and tone. The more melanin your skin produces, the darker the skin tone.
By discouraging melanin production, whitening skin products gradually turn your skin a lighter color. The best part? Many of these natural bleach options come with a bevy of other skin benefits, rather than side effects.
If you’re wondering how to lighten skin naturally and permanently, read on. We’ve compiled a rundown of the best natural bleaching agents to use to bleach your skin naturally!
Natural Bleach #1: Mulberry Extract
The mulberry tree origins can be traced back to China but it’s now also popularly cultivated in places such as Australia, Japan, and Europe. In the East, the mulberry extract has been used as a medicinal ingredient for centuries but it only recently grew in popularity in Western countries.
Mulberries is lauded as one of the most powerful superfoods for the skin. With its rich antioxidant content, this fruit is super effective in slowing down the aging process. A growing number of studies shows its effectiveness for keeping clear and smooth skin - mulberry extract is pretty much a youth elixir for your skin.
What’s more though, studies have revealed that mulberry extract also effectively lightens skin. It’s made of the tree bark and roots of mulberry trees. It’s highly praised by skin experts because of its visible effects on reversing UV rays-caused skin discoloration.
This is why it's pretty new to the skin lightening market: it only recently made its debut after new studies started showing that various species of the mulberry plant effectively inhibit melanin production.
Clinical trials show that only a 0.4-percent concentration of mulberry extract suppressed by 50 percent the activity of tyrosinase - the enzyme responsible for melanin production. Compared to this, the other common skin lightening ingredients required far higher concentrations to achieve the same result (5.5 percent hydroquinone and 10 percent kojic acid).
Yup, that's a whole lot of skin lightening bang for your buck. Even better is the fact that mulberry extract lightens and whitens skin minus the irritation, thanks to the roots and barks of mulberry containing excellent healing properties.
There are only a few skin whitening products containing mulberry extract at the moment, and we think we found our favorite pick among them:
We were amazed by this product for both its effectiveness in skin lightening and the permanence of the results! We tested it on the face and the sensitive genital area and we were blown by the result.
Still, what’s most important, the visible results we achieved don’t vanish soon, as is the case with many other skin lightening creams. Months after I noticed the first visible appearance of lighter skin after using the Amaira skin lightening serum for a few weeks - the result is still there! The age spots didn’t return.
This makes a lot of sense because this advanced, scientifically-tested product is formulated with natural ingredients only. When you work towards the desired skin effect in a natural way, usually the results come in several weeks or a month.
If you’re looking into how to lighten skin overnight this may not be your cup of tea. But the permanent results are precisely why it pays off to wait! Once non-aggressive natural bleaching ingredients work their wonders, the results are visible and won’t reverse.
Compared to most OCT creams, this serum still gives relatively fast results. Other users have reported visible improvement in just two weeks.
Apart from the skin-lightening mulberry leaf extract and the age-defying mulberry root extract, the serum also boasts extract from the Dendrobium Phalaenopsis Flower. This flower appears on the lists of the top 50 fundamental herbs of Chinese medicine. Little known to us, it’s one of the most powerful moisturizers in the world.
All in all, this is an amazingly cost-effective, safe option for bleaching all skin types, including my sensitive, problematic skin. With its cruelty-free and 100% made in the USA and FDA approved labels, as well as a 60-day money back guarantee, you really shouldn’t wait to try the wonders of the mulberry extract.
Natural Bleach #2. Vitamin C
One of the most commonly used natural bleaching agents is the beauty vitamin that everyone has heard of: Vitamin C. This water-soluble vitamin is crucial for healthy skin cells and it works as a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes harmful free radicals that lead to skin damage.
But the true beauty of this skin brightening vitamin lies in the fact that it's so readily available - you can consume it by chowing down on citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, and limes and dark green leafy vegetables - or easily find it in supplement form such as in pills and capsules. It's also very widely used in skin care products and you can easily get your hands on a range of high potency Vitamin C serums at very reasonable prices.
Okay, that all sounds good and dandy but does vitamin C also work in lightening the skin? The answer is yes, it does. First of all, the acidic nature of vitamin C helps in cleansing the skin and eliminating infections thus keeping the skin not only brighter and lighter but also healthier and smoother. Vitamin C is also a natural exfoliant that helps get rid of dead skin cells that cause your skin to look dull, dark and uneven. By sloughing off the "dead weight," it allows brighter, lighter skin cells below to shine through.
Even better? Vitamin C increases the levels of the antioxidants Glutathione and vitamin E that help the skin produce more pheomelanin, which are pink to red melanin pigments, instead of eumalin, which are brown to black melanin pigments.
On top of all that, Vitamin C even acts as a melanin blocker, inhibiting the tyrosinase enzyme and interfering with the melanin production process. The result? A natural, gradual skin lightening.
And that's not all - aside from skin lightening, vitamin C also has a bevy of skin benefits, including:
Boost collagen synthesis to improve skin elasticity, making it younger and firmer looking.
Fights redness and inflammation, combatting red blotches and post-acne marks.
Essential in healing wounds, since Vitamin C stimulates collagen production keeps the walls of blood vessels and capillaries intact.
So how do you use Vitamin C as a natural skin bleach? Using vitamin C as an ingredient in skin lightening can be done orally or topically, with the latter being more effective. But you can always do a balance of both.
Orally, you can enhance your diet to include more vitamin C rich food items. These include oranges, strawberries, blackcurrants, and citrus fruits as well as broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables, and even potatoes.
You can even opt for skin lightening pills that contain Vitamin C as well as Glutathione to speed up the process of whitening and evening out skin tone. The best picks in this department are Relumins Ultimate Whitening Set and Ivory Cap's pills, both of which contain Glutathione to lower overall melanin production in the body and change the metabolic pathway of melanin from synthesizing dark pigmented melanin (eumelanin) to creating light-pigmented melanin (phaeomelanin).
Topically, the easiest and most effective way to use Vitamin C for skin lightening is to go straight for a Vitamin C serum. Go for one that is potent enough to make a difference but not so high that it will irritate your skin. For sensitive skin type, we recommend starting with a 15% to 20% Vitamin C serum that also contains plenty of soothing, hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and Vitamin E to counter the potential redness and irritation of Vitamin C.
On the other hand, if your skin is used to Vitamin C and can handle it, go for a serum with a higher concentration of < 20% Vitamin C combined with an exfoliant like retinol or an AHA for faster, better results.
Natural Bleach #3: Kojic Acid
Kojic acid is a common ingredient used in skin lightening products and most of us who wish to achieve whiter skin have probably used one at some point. But does it really help in lightening the skin? Before we answer that question it is best to first know what kojic acid is. Kojic acid is an all natural compound that can be found in a whole variety of natural sources, like mushrooms, soy and even the residue that comes from fermenting rice wine!
And despite being an all natural skin bleaching agent, it's proven effective enough to hold its own as the second most popular skin lightening ingredient.
Now to answer your question. Yes, kojic acid has been repeatedly proven to work in lightening the skin. According to a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, kojic acid lightens the skin by preventing the catecholase function of tyrosinase. Catecholase function is an important step in making the compound melanin which is the primary skin pigment responsible for making the skin darker.
Dr. Alaine James of the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center says that kojic acid is an effective ingredient for skin lightening and has similar effects to that of hydroquinone. Applying kojic acid topically on your skin will give the skin an overall lighter appearance – a fact proven by dermatologists and scientists alike.
Research also shows that kojic acid as an ingredient is safe as long as the product density does not exceed 2% concentration. But despite being safe, it can also have side effects. In fact, we'd classify kojic acid as one of the stronger, more potentially irritating of the natural skin bleaching agents. Side effects can include increased skin sensitivity, itchy skin, and even inflammation and redness.
So don't just rush into slathering on the most potent kojic acid product you can find! Instead, start small and work your way up. The best way to do it is by using a kojic acid soap. At first, start slow by lathering up and leaving the soap on your skin for around a minute. As your skin gets accustomed to it, you can gradually increase the length of time the soap stays on your skin to three to five minutes.
Once your skin is comfortable with kojic acid, you can take things a step further by adding on a natural skin lightening lotion or cream that contains kojic acid. Our favorite picks are the BioRadiance Botanical Brightening Treatment, which contains kojic acid as well as a bunch of other natural skin lighteners and exfoliating agents, as well as the LumiEssence Organic Advanced Brightening Repair Treatment, which is also stocked with natural bleaching agents.
Natural Bleach #4: Licorice Root Extract
Got sensitive skin? This is hands down the best natural bleaching agent for you. You see, licorice extract is more than a natural bleaching agent - it's also a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Which is most likely why licorice extract has long been used in China tracing back to ancient times as a skin treatment.
They may have not known why licorice extract was so great for the skin back then, but we know now. In the 1990s the compound glabradin was identified in it as the one responsible for protecting the skin against harmful UVA and UVB rays. Together with another compound - liquirtin - they also inhibit the activity of tyrosinase, disrupting melanin synthesis to lighten skin with little to no irritation.
That's because licorice extract also has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce skin irritation and redness. The primary antioxidant and compounds found in licorice extract are saponins, flavonoids, glycosides and glycyrrhizin, all of which contribute to make licorice extract one of the safest and gentlest bleaching agents on earth.
So how do you use it? Eminence Organics Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster Serum is a super effective, simple way to get a huge dose of licorice root as well as other lighteners like Gigawhite and exfoliants like lactic acid.
Natural Bleach #5: Alpha Arbutin
Alpha Arbutin is a molecule extracted from the bearberry plant that inhibits the function of tyrosinase, similar to the effects of kojic acid and licorice root. Arbutin is gentler than other skin brightening skin ingredients and like licorice root, is best for those with more sensitive skin.
It also has sun protection properties and reduces the degree of skin tanning after sun exposure. Some people tend to be nervous about arbutin because of its similar brightening benefits to hydroquinone but studies have shown that it is, in fact, both safe and effective for skin lightening - and comes without the potential side effects of hydroquinone.
So how can you benefit from this gentle, effective natural skin bleach? Our hands-down favorite arbutin-containing product is Peter Thomas Roth CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Complexion Corrector. It's the perfect multi-tasking skin lightener: it provides broad spectrum, physical sun protection, it provides lovely coverage to instantly smooth out discoloration and it actually lightens and brightens with a high concentration of arbutin as well as Vitamin C.
Natural Bleach #6: Gigawhite
If you're thinking that Gigawhite sounds pretty...unnatural, it's 'cause this whitening ingredient is not just one ingredient - it's a trademarked combination of a medley of effective ingredients.
Here's what you need to know, in a nutshell: Gigawhite is a patented skin brightener manufactured by Centerchem and is a common ingredient found in skin whitening products. It is composed of seven organically grown Swiss alpine plants including Malva Sylvestris Extract, Mentha Piperita Leaf Extract, Primula Veris Extract, Alchemilla Vulgaris Extract, Veronica Officinalis Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, and Achillea Millefolium Extract.
Together, these botanical ingredients work synergistically to inhibit tyrosinase, which is the enzyme responsible for melanin production. Gigawhite has been shown to effectively brighten and even the skin tone at a 5% concentration. Clinical studies have also been conducted where Gigawhite was shown to reduce the appearance of dark spots in Asian subjects aged 22-55. In 12 weeks the subjects tested showed a 24% decrease in skin discoloration and a 15.3% increase in skin lightening.
So how you take advantage of this super ingredient? One of our most favorite skin lightening creams of all time, Meladerm, contains Gigawhite as well as a cornucopia of natural skin bleaching agents. Another option is the Eminence Organics Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster Serum.
But our favorite option? Get yourself Peter Thomas Roth's Brightening Bubbling Mask to use several times a week, whenever your skin needs a pick-me-up. Not only is this one of the most fun skin care products, but it's stocked with Gigawhite as well as a range of skin lighteners including licorice root, bearberry extract, mulberry extract, Vitamin C and others.
The above list of natural bleaching agents is by no means complete - but they are the best ones out there. Use them separately or in combination for lighter, brighter skin...without the side effects!