The most common reason African-Americans need fade creams is hyperpigmentation, a cosmetic condition that causes dark spots on the skin.
This abnormalcy that also affects darker Asian, Native American, African, Hispanic and South Asian populations results in splotches and uneven skin tones can be caused by sun damage, inflammation, scars from skin injuries, acne.
Because of the close distribution of melanocytes in darker skin types, irritation and swelling can cause the melanacytes to react and produce darker pigment.
Dermatologists have chosen dermabrasion, laser treatments and bleaching agents to combat scarring and spotting.
At times, fading creams have been a stigma in the African-American community. Some use the products to lighten their overall complexions to become more white-appearing. This ritual has drawn a lot of flack from those who say it is an attempt to "be" more like whites. Colored contact lenses, long blonde hair/wigs, and hair straighteners have drawn the same controversies.
Traditionally, however, African-Americans who legitimately want to fade dark spots have selected their own over-the-counter remedies for an even blend. The key is knowing your skin type and doing a patch test to guard against allergic reactions.
One of the things many fade cream users have noticed is a browning of some brands over a period of time. The white cream form of normal fading agents reacts to light and become discolored. This might also happen if you have had the cream for too long. Check good-use dates and discard creams that have expired.
Among the most popular fade cream brands have been Ambi Fade Cream (about $5), a long-time favorite that contains vitamin E, alpha hydroxy acid and sunscreen; Nadinola Skin Discoloration Fade Cream known to fight dark spots from oral contraceptives; Esoterica, a light-weight, non-greasy cream that also acts as a great sunscreen; and Porcelana, formulated to work at night and contains antioxidants and botanical extracts for firming skin.
Some others which have had favorable results among consumers include:
- Palmer's Skin Success Fade Cream ($5.59)
Palmer's contains vitamin C and E, both known to naturally promote even skin tones. In addition to the fade cream, there is an oil that helps reduce stretch marks.
- MaMa Lotion ($15.00)
Non-irritating, MaMa Lotion gives a high-potent anti-inflammatory guard for users and aides in hyperpigmentation prevention. The lotion helps to increase collagen production in the skin and helps slow and prevent breakouts in oily/acne prone skin types. Contains mandelic acid, which is naturally anti-bacterial. Users have reported seeing significant improvements in skin clarity after only a month.
- Fade-Out ($10.49)
A leg treatment cream that helps fade spider veins without injections and lasers. Vitamin K A tinted cream formulated with Vitamin K and herbal extracts, Fade-Out has been known to help improve circulation.
- Clear Essence Advance Complex Fade Gel ($6.75)
One of the few products on the market that is a gel that absorbs into the skin, and not a cream. Contains sunscreen and specially formulated for oily skin.
- Black & White Bleaching Cream with Hydroquinone ($4.99)
Good for freckles and age/liver spots. Economical and less greasy than most other formulas. Conveniently found in most drug stores.
- Black Opal Fade Cream ($12.49)
A silky cream with moisturizing emollients to help nourish and condition as it fades. Contains a combination of Hydroquinone and botanicals to fight discoloration and even skin tones.
- KleenShave Smooth & Tight Fade Cream ($9.99)
A wonder cream for men who have hyperpigmentation in the beard and neck area, KleenShave contains pure shea butter and other natural ingredients and works well against shaving trauma. This also includes women who have trouble in the bikini area. Used twice daily, it produces results in about seven days. A one-ounce jar lasts one- to two months with regular use.
- Sekkisei ($28-60)
Emphasizing the fact that its skin evening tones are better than the "whitening" agents found in other products, Sekkisei offers a whole line of cleansing and toning products. Made with combinations of Japanese and Chinese herbal extracts. Expensive - the complexion soap is $28 and the lotion is about $40 - the products tend to be a bit oily, but are very hydrating and effective. Available at Beauty.com.