Having soft, clear and flawless skin has been every woman’s dream throughout history. According to the statistics provided by Statista, 1.35 million people of all ages, skin colors and skin types in the US spend 500 or more USD on skincare every 3 months.
Most women think that using the right creams, serums, makeup, face cleansers and a variety of cosmetic skin treatments (such as laser facial treatments, chemical peels, oxygen facials, mesotherapy, thermage, gel fillers) is enough to keep their skin healthy and smooth.
However, despite these endless possibilities designed to help you achieve the perfect skin you have always wished for, there are still some women (and even some men) with a darker skin color who are conditioned by their culture and practically forced to believe that their skin needs to be as light as possible to be beautiful and desirable.
While this might sound like a rather dated idea, it’s surprising how many women still do everything in their power to brighten their skin and see it as a must. A multi billion dollar skin lightening products industry is constantly coming up with new ways to help dark-skinned women do this.
One of the treatments many of these women go for in modern times is glutathione injections for skin whitening. But the question we need to ask ourselves is – are they really safe enough? In this article, I will provide you with some insightful information about this trend and help you find some alternatives which are way safer, but very effective.
What is a glutathione injection?
Originally, intravenous glutathione treatments were designed for people who are going through chemo.
However, it has later been discovered that these injections can help people lighten their skin color and reduce blemishes.
While people (women, mainly) have been using bleaching creams for years, these products have turned out to be either very dangerous (some of them have even been scientifically proven to cause mercury poisoning and severe chemical burns) or not effective enough.
So, these facts have inspired the cosmetic industry to come up with yet another innovative solution – glutathione injections – which quickly gained immense popularity, especially among Asian women who are convinced that they cannot be attractive or classy unless they have light skin.
Nowadays, one of the top reasons why people use glutathione injections is because they believe that they work faster compared to topical products since skin whitening glutathione is injected directly into the body.
Who uses them?
While glutathione injections are becoming increasingly popular in the US and the UK, Asian women are reported to be among the largest groups of users. In the Philippines for instance, these intravenous treatments are so common, that practically each and every beauty salon or a spa offers them.
The history of glutathione injections:
Glutathione is a tripeptide molecule that was discovered in 1888 by J. de Rey-Pailhade. It is naturally produced in our bodies, found in some foods, and has been referred to as “the mother of all antioxidants” by many doctors.
While this molecule has a number of different functions and has been used in the treatment of various diseases (Parkinson’s disease being one of them), cosmetic experts have discovered that using glutathione can be useful for skin whitening as well.
In 2007, glutathione in the form of capsules became popular because it was really good at whitening skin, but shortly after that, it was discovered that you can get a lot more out of it if you inject it directly into the body. You have to do this each month tough, as the effects wear off over time.
According to the data provided by the FDA (Food and Drugs Authority), the number of glutathione brands rose from 30 (in 2008) to more than 200 (in 2011), and it continued to increase even further.
The dangers of using glutathione injections for skin whitening:
There has been a large number of reports claiming that glutathione injections have some rather harmful effects which can even be lethal if the dosage is above the recommended levels (recommended dose is 600 to 1200 mg of glutathione once or twice a week).
There is medical evidence that suggests that these injections can cause liver dysfunction, toxic epidermal necrolysis, thyroid and renal dysfunction, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, as well as severe abdominal pain.
Other side effects of glutathione injections which are common include skin rashes, allergic reactions, stomach ache, nausea, thyroid disease, kidney failure, embolism, and blood poisoning, especially if the doses are higher than recommended and if the treatments are carried out by unlicensed medical practitioners.
In the Philippines, there were some cases of people being held at Intensive Care because they were unable to breathe as a result of these injections. After these unfortunate scenarios, the FDA decided to ban the use of glutathione injections in May 2011.
However, this didn’t greatly affect the popularity of these intravenous treatments, and people in different parts of Asia still opt for them.
Do they even work?
Not only have glutathione injections been reported to have different harmful effects on the human body and have been banned as a result, but it still remains unclear whether they are truly effective when it comes to skin whitening, as there is no data available.
While some skin clinics claim that these intravenous treatments really work and they provide us with before and after pictures to show us the results, there are still no published evidence to support such claims.
These injections have still not been properly and medically tested, so no one can really say whether they work or not with certainty. But, since they are not regulated yet, most countries and medical experts are advising people not to experiment on their own, as this can have grave consequences.
What are the alternatives?
For women who are still concerned about their skin color, there are many different alternatives which are completely safe and proven to work and not cause dangerous side effects, unlike glutathione injections.
There are different topical creams, soaps, lotions, etc. that are available on the market which can be used to even out skin tone. These topical products are designed to reduce melanin – a skin pigment responsible for our skin color and they contain some ingredients which are safe to use, such as hydroquinone, kojic acid, different forms of Vitamin C, Alpha Arbutin, Vitamin B3, Mulberry Extract, etc.
In addition, there are different whitening serums and chemical peels, all of which have pretty much the same effects.
There is not enough evidence about how glutathione injections for skin whitening work, but it is certainly advisable to stay away from them. Therefore, I recommend you not to risk your health for something that might not even work at all, but may cause some serious damage.