3 skin "brightening" ingredients that damage and age the skin and body

Last week I needed to clean out my glass knifemaker in preparation for examining my specimens I wrote about last week. 

Its an LKB knifemaker which was made in the 1980's so its all mechanical and no computers. So when it needs servicing, I just do it myself. With any methods in electron microscopy, its all done in house. So the knives needed to section the specimens are something I buy, its just made right here in the lab.

Usually whenever a piece of equipment like this needs to be serviced, just a cleaning will make it work like new so I thought this would be an easy fix. 

But once I started I realized I needed to change the cutting wheel. Then once I took the cutting wheel off its mount, then I noticed that the support plate needed to be tightened, and then one thing after another. 5 hours later just simple cleaning turned into a total overhaul of the machine and I was fixing something completely unrelated to the original task.

This 'yak shaving' endeavor is time consuming but it also lets the mind wander for a bit and it got me thinking about how skin care can often lead someone down the same path. Where you try and fix one thing, such as a dark spot, and in doing so you created a littany of complex skin problems that are now a complicated and possibly impossible fix.

With skin care, there is some good, but it is mostly bad. Finding a good skin care product that does not do damage is harder than finding a needle in a haystack because at least when you try and look for a needle in a haystack, there aren't a bunch of pseudoscientists, bloggers and bogus online articles trying to misdirect you towards a decoy needle. 

False information spreads like a malignant tumor in the skin care world because it is cloaked in the guise of science. But the emperor is not wearing any clothes when it is said that hyaluronic acid is hydrating, or it can hold 1000x its weight in water, or vitamin C can upregulate collagen. Whoever is saying such things is ignorant of how biology works and all it took for me to know this was simple primary research I conducted in my lab which refuted this long held "knowledge". 

And therein lies the problem: skin care "scientists", bloggers, Youtubers, Instagrammers, and everyone else do not actually conduct their own research. Skin care scientists just conduct research on how to make a product more marketable. And the rest just parrot what they heard from others without any due dilligence of their own. 

The lack of credible information is why so many people come to OUMERE with damaged skin, often to the point of permanent disfigurement. They wanted to treat something simple, like a dark spot, and were told by bloggers, youtubers and bogus studies to use skin care methods X, which created problem 1, so then they used skin care method Y, which created problem 2, and so on. So now instead of a little dark spot they have acne, dermatitis, deep scarring, inflammation, uncontrollable oiliness and possible blood poisoning. 

My hope is to be a louder voice in skin care so we do not have this budding problem of amplified skin disease caused by damaging products. If you, as the customer, are aware that ingredients are harmful, and refuse to use products containing them, then manufacturers will be forced to stop putting them in their products. And to begin, lets start with these 3:

1. Hydroquinone

Perhaps the most dangerous on the list is hydroquinone. The most common ingredient in skin "bleaching" creams used worldwide can damage the skin, but it can also do far greater harm including the following:

- Hydroquinone is absorbed by the bone marrow causing the synthesis of benzene which can cause toxicity in the body, mutagenesis (mutation of genes) which can cause leukemia among other cancers and induced apoptosis (cell death).

- Ironically, hydroquinone, which is used to lighten the skin, can have the opposite effect and cause the skin to severely and permanently darken. The skin disease seen with using hydroquinone is called exogenous ochronosis and is difficult if not nearly impossible to treat. 

Exogenous ochronosis is seen as darkening of the skin 

- Skin lesions

Severe skin lesions and darkening seen in patient who used topical skin lightening cream containing hydroquinone


- Increased skin sensitivity


The alarming part of hydroquinone is that there is a strong body of research spanning decades on its toxicity, yet major brands in America still carry this ingredient. 


2. Vitamin C

It is known in the scientific community that vitamin C cannot initiate, promote, or upregulate the production of collagen. Not in the skin, not in the knees, not anywhere in the body. This is not its role in the body, nor has it ever been its role. Vitamin C only is involved after collagen is made to alter the shape of the protein. Yet despite this very basic fact of biology we have this unscientific claim that vitamin C in skin care can magically do things that it cannot otherwise do in a bioligical system.

The other claim is that vitamin C can brighten the skin. Vitamin C can only oxidize the skin, which may have the result of lightening spots, but this is only because you are killing your live, healthy skin. And when the skin dies, if it had any dark spots, the darkened skin dies too. This is why vitamin C serums cause acne, inflammation and increased skin oiliness: these are all the results of cell death. 

3. Benzoyl peroxide

All peroxides can be harmful to the body. Your body naturally produces peroxides as a metabolic byproduct and it also produces enzymes to break down peroxides because of the toxic effect peroxides have on the body.

Benzoyl peroxide is common for acne and skin lightening, and this ingredient will make any existing acne and dark spots worse due to its damaging and toxic effect. The worst part is because the application is topical, your body cannot initiate the necessary mechanisms to break down the peroxide, so it sits on the skin, goes into the body and causes destruction to both. 

When benzoyl peroxide sits on the skin, the damages it causes include:

- Skin tumorigenesis ( creation of skin cancer) 

- Oxidation of skin cells which leads to cell death

- Inflammation of skin which can lead to permanent reddening

- Lesions, deep pock marks and scarring

- Thinning of skin on the applied area which may be permanent

- Worsening of acne due to increased inflammation and weaking of skin

- Disruption of natural skin biome which can also lead to increased acne

When benzoyl peroxide goes into the skin, it can also go into the bloodstream which causes the following internal health consequences:

- Metabolic disruption

- Benzene synthesis (benzoic acid) in the body

- Irreversible cytotoxicity

- Damage to the plasma membrane of cells




Additonal points to consider:

Skin methods such as lasers, scrubs, peels and dermabrasion to lighten the skin are just as destructive as the above ingredients. And because they are physical methods, the disfigurement caused can be permanent. 

It is therefore necessary in skin care for a proper lightening product that works without doing harm. A lot of OUMERE customers use the Eye Serum as a spot treatment to positive results, and I use it myself and see marked improvement on dark spots.

However, it may be necessary for those with more significant melasma, hyperpigmentation and age spots to have a stronger product. I am in the process of working on a spot treatment to brighten the skin that is without the cancer-causing ingredients, or destructive skin measures mentioned above.

It will be part of the Exclusive Offer program first, then released for sale on the OUMERE store after extensive testing. 






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Zhao, J., Lahiri-Chatterjee, M., Sharma, Y., & Agarwal, R. (2000). Inhibitory effect of a flavonoid antioxidant silymarin on benzoyl peroxide-induced tumor promotion, oxidative stress and inflammatory responses in SENCAR mouse skin. Carcinogenesis21(4), 811-816.