Bleach for skin can be a combination of synthetic chemicals, of synthetic chemicals mixed with natural ingredients or of natural ingredients, or it can be a single substance sold or used as a cosmetic to lighten or whiten the skin. Hydroquinone probably is the best-known chemical skin bleach that commonly is the active ingredient in bleaching and toning creams for the face and hand. Natural substances known to be effective for skin lightening include lemon juice, kojic acid, lactic acid, ascorbic acid, licorice extract, niacinamide and fresh raw potato juice.
The different types of bleach for skin often are chosen according to the effect that is desired. Some people wish to fade age spots or freckles or simply to achieve an even skin tone, and others desire to lighten their general complexion. Those who are concerned about safety usually opt for an all-natural skin whitener instead of products that contain the chemical hydroquinone, which is believed to be a carcinogen, or a cancer-causing agent. This is why toning, skin whitening and fade creams sold in the United States are not permitted to contain more than 2 percent of the chemical.
Safe whitening of the skin can be accomplished to some degree with the use of all-natural substances. A bleach for skin easily can be made in the home using non-toxic ingredients, or it can be as simple as one single substance that is topically applied to the skin on a regular basis. It is unrealistic to expect to achieve the complete fading of freckles or age spots or to lighten one's complexion more than one shade. Expectations such as these, however, are not always realistic, even when using a strong chemical bleach for skin.
Lemon juice is a natural bleach for skin that can be added to water that is used for washing the face or bathing, but it can be somewhat drying and irritating to the skin. Kojic acid, which causes gentle skin lightening, is an ingredient in some all-natural, hydroquinone-free bleaching creams. Ascorbic acid, more commonly known as vitamin C, gently and slowly bleaches the skin. Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, also figures on the list of natural skin-whitening agents. Lactic acid sometimes is included in natural skin-lightening creams because of its tendency to help the other ingredients penetrate more deeply into the skin. Licorice extract contains a substance known as glabridin, which has an inhibiting effect on pigmentation but is non-toxic to cells that form melanin.