Whether it is the perceived notion that a lighter complexion will improve one's social and economic status quo or the desire to have an even complexion, the use of skin lightening creams among African Americans is on the increase. With a large number of these creams having mercury derivatives, hydroquinone and tropical steroids, it is imperative that one is aware of the dangers of using products with these ingredients.Hydroquinone does not bleach the skin; it limits the output of melanin. By altering the skins structure and inhibiting the production of melanin, you are taking away its natural protection making it more susceptible to skin cancer.
Prolonged use of hydroquinone will cause a blue-black discoloration to the skin caused by ochre- colored pigment. Hydroquinone thickens collagen fibers damaging the connective tissue resulting in rough blotchy skin.
The use of mercury based skin whitening products is probably the most discussed. The immediate effects of mercury based products is rashes, skin irritation and changes to the skin. While this might seem like a little pain to achieve a desired effect, the long term effects are more damaging and harder if not impossible to reverse.