Though our world is obsessed with lighter skin tones, the presence of enough melanin in the skin is just as gorgeous as its absence. But when hands and feet turn unusually darker than the rest of the body, it becomes important to get rid of that uneven skin tone with a whitening cream exclusively made for limbs. You can always opt for a homemade solution instead of picking a commercial product for this purpose. Let us tell you why and how to prepare your own hand and foot whitening cream at home.
Why Do Hands and Feet Get Darker?
Many of us do not take as much care of our hands and feet as we do of our faces. The skin on our limbs is often neglected even though it remains uncovered for most of the time and tends to undergo major tanning. Not only the exposure to UV rays and environmental pollution result in the discoloration of our hands and feet but involvement in household chores also takes a toll. As a result, they become a few shades darker than our faces and other body parts over time.
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What are Skin-Whitening Creams?
Skin-whitening creams, also popularly known as skin-lightening creams, are chemical-filled cosmetics that primarily work to lighten the skin tone and make it even by lowering the concentration of melanin in it. This makes the skin appear softer, brighter, and fairer. Sometimes they are also used as anti-aging products to keep age-related discoloration away. Typical skin-whitening cosmetics are available in various forms i.e. bleaches, lotions, creams, etc. They address several issues effectively including:
- Dark spots
- Black spots
- Age spots
- Uneven tone
The practice of skin whitening dates back to the 1500s in Asia. Nowadays, around 40% of women in Asia use skin-whitening products regularly while more than half of skincare products sold in India are intended for whitening the skin.
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Composition of Skin-Whitening Creams
Several chemical compounds are used in commercial products as antimelanogenic agents or skin-whitening agents. The most common active ingredients found in these creams include hydroquinone, tretinoin, mercury, tranexamic acid, corticosteroids, retinoic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, kojic acid, arbutin, glutathione, etc. While many of these work as desired, they have also been found to be toxic or have questionable safety profiles (1). In the U.S., the use of hydroquinone is regulated by the FDA and no OTC skin whitener can contain more than 2% of it.
Hydroquinone, tretinoin, mercury, corticosteroids, etc. are not allowed in European cosmetics as they are supposed to have severe side effects. However, kojic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, etc. are considered much safer than these (2).
How Do These Whitening Creams Work?
A skin-whitening cream works by reducing the level of pigmentation (melanin) in the skin where it is applied. Given below are the probable mechanisms of action it usually follows for this purpose (3):
- Inhibits the catalytic action of tyrosinase (the enzyme involved in melanin synthesis)
- Restricts the generation of tyrosinase
- Prevents tyrosinase from being activated to its functional form
- Averts the transfer of melanosomes to keratinocytes
- Eliminates the intermediate products of melanin synthesis
- Ruins the melanin-producing cells called melanocytes
- Destroys the existing melanin directly
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Why Use Whitening Creams for Hands and Feet?
Studies and surveys have revealed that whitening creams if used regularly, may reduce the discoloration of the skin on our hands and feet quite effectively. They change the darker skin tone to a lighter shade over time and make the skin appear whiter and fairer. These days, hand and foot whitening creams have become widely popular and easily available in the market. They can also be prepared at home by using some easy to avail herbal ingredients, which are more budget-friendly in comparison to other cosmetic products. Hence, trying whitening creams for lightening hands and feet is certainly a good choice for healthy and beautiful limbs.
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Why Use a Homemade Whitening Cream?
Though various types of whitening creams are easily available in the market, all those chemically treated cosmetic items may result in side effects. Hence, there can be nothing better than a homemade solution. Here is why you should prefer a homemade whitening cream over a store-bought one (4):
1. Natural and Safe Ingredients
Most synthetic whitening creams contain tons of harsh and damaging chemical compounds (only a few comprise safe ingredients, such as retinol, arbutin, etc.), But homemade whitening creams are made of natural herbal ingredients that are gentle on our skin and completely safe too.
2. Improves the Skin Texture
Rubbing a store-bought whitening cream on the skin regularly is a highly harmful practice. It can cause several minor to severe side effects over time. Conversely, homemade creams can improve the texture of your skin over time and make it softer, smoother, and suppler.
3. Takes Care of Skin Health
If you check the labels of commercial whitening creams carefully, you will see that most of them contain prescription-strength steroids, hydroquinone, mercury, etc. They may use even more poisonous substances without disclosing them on labels. But homemade whitening creams are rich in skin-friendly ingredients that take overall care of the skin to make it healthy from inside and brighter from outside.
4. Highly Affordable
Commercial whitening creams are pretty expensive and some are even not easily available. On the other hand, the ingredients used in homemade versions are easily available and way too cheaper than them.
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DIY Recipe: Hand and Foot Whitening Cream
Made from the best of natural products and their extracts, a home-based hand and foot whitening cream is sure to be more effective and beneficial for the treatment of your skin. Below, we have provided you with the process of making a hand and foot whitening cream at home:
- Gram flour
- Turmeric powder
- Lemon juice
- Milk cream
Method of Preparation:
- Take some gram flour in a bowl and add a few pinches of readymade turmeric powder (or fresh turmeric extract) to it.
- Squeeze in the juice of a fresh lemon in it and mix well.
- Now, pour some natural milk cream (extracted by boiling the milk or yogurt thoroughly) into the bowl and mix all together nicely until it turns, thick, smooth, and creamy.
- Apply a generous amount of the cream to your hands and feet and massage gently for a few minutes to get the maximum benefits at the earliest.
The homemade hand and foot whitening cream can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days for regular usage. If your skin is allergic to bleaching agents, skip using the lemon juice as it can result in irritation and itchiness.
Read Also – 10 Natural Ayurvedic Creams for a Glowing & Fair Skin
Home Remedies for Hand and Foot Whitening
There are some more time-tested natural remedies to lighten and whiten our arms and legs that you can try at home. If you are ready to experiment, here are the choices:
1. Licorice Powder and Milk
Combine licorice (mulethi) powder with cold raw milk to form a thick paste, apply it uniformly all over the skin of your limbs, and scrub it off gently with a damp cotton ball upon drying.
2. Turmeric, Aloe Vera, and Coconut Oil
Boil a few fresh turmeric sticks in some water. Mix fresh aloe vera gel and organic coconut oil with it. Apply thoroughly, leave it on for an hour, and wash off with tepid water.
3. Curd and Honey
Whip up some frozen curd with a little organic honey and apply the smooth mixture to your hands and feet. Rinse off with cold water after half an hour.
4. Red Lentils, Tomato Juice, and Coconut Oil
Soak some red lentils overnight and grind them into a fine paste the next morning. Blend fresh tomato juice and organic coconut oil with it and use the mixture for scrubbing your limbs gently.
5. Lime Juice and Rose Water
Add fresh lime juice and rose water to sandalwood powder and make a thick, smooth paste. Apply it all over your arms and legs, wait for 20 minutes and then, wash off with cold water.
Also Read – 10 Effective Home Remedies for Dry and Chapped Hands
Risks of Using Commercial Skin Whiteners
So, how do commercially available hand and foot whitening creams cause harm to you? Well, if you check the labels of commercial whitening creams carefully, you will see that most of them contain prescription-strength steroids, hydroquinone, mercury, etc. These may cause minor to severe side effects over time, which include:
- Thinning of the skin
- Visible capillaries
- Permanent stretch marks
- Easy bruising
- Stubborn acne
- Allergic reactions
- Premature aging
- Poor wound healing
- Ochronosis (unwanted and untreatable skin discoloration)
Some brands of hand and foot whitening cream may use even more poisonous substances without disclosing them on the labels. Prolonged use of those may lead to many fatal conditions like:
- High blood sugar
- Nervous system damage
- Disruption of natural steroids
- Kidney disorder
- Liver damage
- Skin cancer
Commercial hand and foot whitening creams should be used under supervision of a doctor. For OTC products, make sure that they do not contain mercury in any other name (mercuric, mercurous, mercurio, colomel, etc.). Products with hydroquinone should also mention the concentrations of the ingredient on their labels clearly. (5)
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When our hands and feet are darker than the rest of our body, it looks really awkward. While commercial skin-whitening creams can help you even out your skin tone in an effective way, they usually come loaded with toxic chemical substances. Prolonged use of these may lead to minor to major side effects or even fatal health conditions. Hence, it is always good to prepare your own homemade hand and foot whitening cream with natural ingredients for this purpose. You can also include simple skin-whitening packs made of natural skin lightening agents in your daily skincare routine.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can Baking Soda Whiten Skin?
Yes, baking soda has bleaching properties, which help in lightening the skin, fading spots, and reducing pigmentation.
How Do You Lighten Dark Private Parts?
Prepare a smooth paste of medium consistency by mixing baking soda and plain water in equal quantities. Apply it to the troubled areas of your skin and wait for at least 15 minutes before rinsing off with tepid water.
Which Treatment is Best for Skin Whitening?
Apart from homemade skin-whitening creams, you can try chemical peel treatment. In this technique, a peeling solution is applied to the darkened part of the skin to exfoliate it effectively.
Which Vitamin is Responsible for Skin Whitening?
Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that helps in lightening the skin tone with its strong bleaching properties.
- “Skin Whitening“, Wikipedia.org
- “Overview of Skin Whitening Agents with an Insight into the Illegal Cosmetic Market in Europe”, OnlineLibrary.wiley.com
- “Mechanisms Regulating Skin Pigmentation: The Rise and Fall of Complexion Coloration“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Skin-Lightening Creams are Dangerous – Yet Business is Booming. Can the Trade Be Stopped?“, TheGuardian.com
- “Skin Lightening Treatments“, WebMD.com