Today, skin bleaching is becoming very popular worldwide. If you are interested in trying it out either to get rid of scars or to simply change your skin tone, understanding how the products work would be essential. This will help you know what to expect, as well as know which products to buy and which ones to avoid. When bleaching skin, the goal is to reduce the amount of melanin deposited within the top layers of the skin.
Melanin is the product that gives skin and hair its dark color. Reducing its quantity in the skin will make it less dark, whether it’s in a scar or on the whole body. The degree of whitening depends on the amount melanin removed from the skin. There are various methods used to achieve this, and different skin bleaching agents might contain ingredients that use one or more of these methods. These include:
Inhibiting the Activity of an Enzyme Known as Tyrosinase
Melanin is produced within cells known as melanocytes. It is a complex protein made by using an amino acid known as tyrosine, and then converting it through a series of steps into melanin. During this process, an enzyme known as tyrosinase is needed to convert this amino acid. There are some products that reduce the formation or effectiveness of this enzyme, which means that the amount of melanin formation will be reduced as well. In addition to that, there are some biological agents which modify the expression of the gene that is responsible for the manufacturing of tyrosinase, which has the same effect. The bleaching agents which depend on inhibition of this enzyme are very effective.
Preventing Melanin from Being Deposited onto the Skin
In order to make the skin dark and protect it from UV radiation, the melanin formed has to be transported to the upper layers of the skin. All the particles of melanin are then arranged in order. This transfer process depends on the movement of a number of cells, and also expends energy. Some bleaching agents act by preventing this from happening. This means that while the melanin is formed, it is not transported to the upper layer of the skin. This is usually a continuous process since melanin that is already in the upper layers of the skin is regularly lost when skin naturally sloughs off. If this process is inhibited, the skin will get lighter with time, since the existing melanin will be lost but not replaced.
Destruction of Melanin and Melanocytes
The pigment that darkens the skin can also be destroyed by chemical agents that can be found in some skin bleaching products, leading to a lighter skin tone. Alternatively, the cells that produce the melanin, known as melanocytes, can also be damaged and therefore not produce any melanin. An ideal bleaching agent should not only destroy the surface melanin without affecting any other system, since the melanocytes will simply increase the rate at which the melanin is formed to replace them. This is why it is common to find that skin bleaching agents which target the melanin directly also influence another part of the system, such as transport of melanin to the surface or production of the melanin.