Coming from a developing country, I know many people who regularly use these creams to lighten their skin and some of them have developed liver and kidney problems as a result.

I know that many contain hydroquinone which is said to cause cancer and mercury which can cause neurological issues. Are these the two main problematic skin lightening ingredients or are there any else?

  • $\begingroup$ Not sure why your question got downvoted. I am upvoting. $\endgroup$
    – Winston
    Mar 12, 2021 at 11:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I am not downvoting, but it seems to me that the question is really not about biology - perhaps more suitable for the medical sciences. It could be biology, if it were, e.g., about the mechanisms of damange caused by these cremes, etc. $\endgroup$ Mar 12, 2021 at 12:24
  • $\begingroup$ In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cosmopolitan women in the US and Europe would eat 'arsenic complexion wafers' because the arsenic made skin look pale and caused an attractive "rounding up" (generalized edema) of the skin. These "arsenic eaters" were partly why it was one of the first agents identified as a carcinogen. Accidental overdoses were also common, which made it difficult to prove murder by arsenic poisoning. But, to my knowledge, this kind of arsenic eating went out of vogue some time in the early 20th century. $\endgroup$
    – MikeyC
    Mar 12, 2021 at 15:01


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