How black women can lighten their skin complexion

Updated February 21, 2017

Skin tone colour is affected by the amount of melanin in the body. People with higher amounts of melanin will have darker skin. Melanin is added protection for the body from the sun, so the more time one spends in the sun, the darker their skin will be. Although African-American women have higher amounts of melanin, there are a number of ways black women can lighten their skin complexion, from natural methods to medical procedures.

Avoid long-term exposure to the sun. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and cover your skin when you go outdoors. This may decrease the amount of melanin your body produces, resulting in lighter skin tones over time. If you must expose your skin to the sun, be sure you use a high SPF sunscreen.

Cut a lemon in half and roll the open ends over your skin, spreading the juice. Allow the juice to rest on your skin for 10 to 15 minutes before washing the surface.

Add 2 to 3 cups double cream to your nightly bath and soak in it for 30 minutes. Milk baths create a natural bleaching effect, while simultaneously softening your skin.

Take a regular Vitamin C supplements. Vitamin C can reduce the amount of melanin the body produces if taken regularly.

Use a prescription hydroquinone or tretinoin cream prescribed by your doctor. Hydroquinone and tretinoin inhibit production of melanin, lightening the skin.

Talk to your doctor or dermatologist about chemical peels. Chemical peels are often used to even out skin tone and reduce scarring. One of the side effects is lightening of the surface skin. This procedure may also lead to scarring in darker-skinned women, so make sure you talk to your doctor before committing to a chemical peel.


Darker skin tones are more difficult to lighten, so it may take time and repeated applications to achieve the lightness you are aiming for.


Harsh chemicals may lead to uneven skin tone and possible scarring.

Things You'll Need

  • Sunscreen
  • Lemon juice
  • Double cream
  • Vitamin C
  • Hydroquinone prescription cream
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About the Author

Jennifer Hudock is an author, editor and freelancer from Pennsylvania. She has upcoming work appearing in two Library of the Living Dead Press anthologies and has been published in numerous print and online journals, including eMuse, Real TV Addict and Strange Horizons. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing from Bloomsburg University.