10 Best Skin Lightening Soaps for Whitening Skin

Not happy with your skin tone - or just looking for a way to move closer to your ideal?

3 soap bars

One way you may be able to bring more clarity and brightness to your skin is to try using a skin lightening soap.

In this article, I will share recommendations for 10 high-quality skin lightening soaps.

But first, let’s go over some basics so that you know how to shop for a safe and effective skin-lightening product.

Why Lighten Your Skin?

There are a number of different reasons why you might want to lighten your skin:

  • You may have freckles, liver spots, acne scars, or other blemishes which you are trying to conceal.
  • You may simply wish to increase the overall clarity and glow of your complexion.
  • You may have an aesthetic preference for appearing paler.
  • You have cultural reasons for wanting to lighten your skin (i.e. getting access to more job or marriage opportunities, etc.).

Regardless of your reason, it is important to do your homework and invest in a product which can actually deliver the results you are looking for.

Of course, you need to be realistic. You may never manage to completely hide the blemishes you dislike or achieve a dramatic change in skin tone.

But hopefully you can at least reduce the appearance of the blemishes or move closer to the skin tone you prefer.

KEY POINT: Skin lightening soaps and related products can be helpful if you want to reduce the appearance of blemishes and/or simply change your skin tone. 

Products like these are especially popular in countries such as India or Pakistan where lighter skin may lead to more privilege in society.

​What Types of Skin Lightening Products Are Out There?

Skin lightening products come in a number of different forms:

  • Creams and ointments: These are exactly what they sound like. You simply rub a small amount onto your skin.
  • Gels: These are similar to creams and ointments, but offer you a different texture.
  • Serums: This is another form which you can purchase a skin lightening formula in.
  • Soaps: Finally, one more type of skin lightening product you can purchase is a soap. Some people use skin lightening soaps only on their face, or only on the rest of their body. Others use the soap for both the face and the rest of the body.

With so many forms of lightening products out there, you should have no problem locating something which you find convenient and easy to apply.

Personally, I think the soap is arguably the most convenient and cost-effective option, especially for full-body lightening.

Why? Well, if you are using a serum or cream, you will go through a lot of it very quickly if you are applying it to your entire body.

But with a soap, you shouldn’t run out nearly as quickly.

Plus, you do not have to change your routine much to use a lightening soap.

You simply need to take the soap into the shower with you (more on that shortly).

KEY POINT: Skin lightening products on the market include soaps, serums, gels, creams, ointments, and so on.

​Are Skin Lightening Products Safe?

How safe a skin lightening product is depends on the list of ingredients as well as how you use it.

white lightening soap

There are skin lightening products on the market which contain mercury, hydroquinone, corticosteroids, and other dangerous ingredients.

Products like these pose a very real health risk.

Products which contain such ingredients are thankfully banned in some regions.

So if you are purchasing skincare products which are manufactured in such a region (i.e. the US or the EU), you probably do not need to be concerned.

Nonetheless, it is always wise to check the full list of ingredients for any skin lightening product before you purchase it.

You also should make sure you are purchasing from a reputable manufacturer, especially if the product is being manufactured and sold from a country without strict regulations on skincare products.

Skin lightening products do not need to contain dangerous ingredients to be effective.

If you do your research, you can find natural, safe skin lightening topicals which will help you to achieve your goals for your appearance without compromising your health.

KEY POINT: Some skin lightening products contain dangerous ingredients such as mercury. 

Make sure you always check full ingredients lists carefully before you purchase any skin lightening product.

Safe Ingredients in Lightening Soaps

Now that you know some dangerous ingredients to avoid in lightening soaps, what safe, effective ingredients should you look for?

As it turns out, the majority of lightening soaps on the market which are safe and efficacious seem to include one or more of these key ingredients:

  • Kojic acid
  • Turmeric
  • Glutathione

Kojic acid is a natural ingredient derived from fungi. This is one of the most common ingredients used in skin lightening products.

How does it work? Kojic acid is able to inhibit the catecholase activity of tyrosinase (10).

As this article explains (11),

“Tyrosinase is a copper-containing enzyme, which is widely distributed in microorganisms, animals and plants and is a key enzyme in melanin biosynthesis."

That means that kojic acid is able to counteract the production of melanin.

According to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel (1), kojic acid is safe in low concentrations.

Some people do experience skin irritation when using kojic acid, and may develop contact dermatitis (3, 4).

There are some animal studies which demonstrate that kojic acid might have a tumor-promoting effect.

But researchers do not believe that this is an issue in human use owing to different absorption properties of the human circulatory system and skin (1).

Fascinatingly, kojic acid may have protective effects against certain forms of radiation (5).

What about turmeric?

Turmeric has a long history of use for skin lightening in South India, and can also reduce inflammation (2).

whole root turmeric and ground up turmeric powder

As this research (6) explains,

​“Curcuminoids have also been found to inhibit the activity of tyrosinase, an enzyme that participates in melanogenesis, thereby preventing melanin formation with resultant lightening of the skin tone.”

That same research also explains,

“Several independent studies validated the significant antioxidant effects of the tetrahydrocurcuminoids and protection of skin against free radicals and UVB rays.”

So turmeric not only can help lighten skin, but it also can protect your skin from oxidative damage and even offer some level of safeguarding against sun damage.

Incidentally, turmeric curcumin has many other advantages for health. If you want to learn more, please see my article, “23 Benefits of Turmeric Curcumin.”

Next, let’s talk about glutathione.

Glutathione is an antioxidant.

That means that it has a protective effect on skin tissue, reducing the harmful effects of free radicals.

It also has the capacity to lighten skin through several possible mechanisms (8).

Interestingly, it not only can be applied topically, but it may also be taken orally (see the study linked above).

IV injection has been used as well, but that method of delivery can cause side effects and is best avoided.

KEY POINT: The three most popular ingredients in skin lightening soaps which are considered safe and healthy are turmeric, glutathione, and kojic acid.

How to Use Lightening Soap

Previously, I mentioned that you can use skin lightening soap in the shower, and that it doesn’t require a huge divergence from your regular routine.

That is true, but applying it is a little bit different from using regular soaps.

For the sake of this how-to guide, I am going to assume that you are using a soap which contains kojic acid.

  1. ​Lather up the soap.
  2. Rub the soap into your face and/or body.
  3. Wait for around 4 minutes while the ingredients in the soap work on your skin.
  4. Rinse the soap off.

As you can see, the only real divergence here is in letting the soap sit on your skin for a few minutes before you rinse.

If you are applying the soap to sensitive skin (i.e. your face), you should not let it sit for four minutes the first time you apply it.

You need to know how your skin will react. So instead, wait just half a minute before you wash it off.

If you do not experience any irritation, keep doing that for a couple more days, and then apply it for 45 seconds and see how that goes.

If that works out, do that for the next couple days, and then go for a minute, and so on.

Once you reach around four minutes, that is all you need. You do not need to keep pushing for a higher amount of time.*

How long do you need to use a skin lightening soap before you see results?

Safe, high-quality skin lightening soaps containing effective ingredients such as kojic acid do not produce overnight results.

You will need to use the soap diligently for around 6-8 weeks in order to reduce the appearance of blemishes on your skin and/or lighten the overall tone of your skin.

*Note: You might sometimes come across as a product which says that you should apply for a shorter amount of time.

If that is the case, follow the instructions and do not exceed that time.

The product could contain a higher concentration of kojic acid which might cause skin irritation if left on for longer.

KEY POINT: Using a skin lightening soap is a lot like using a regular soap. 

You do need to give it time to soak into your skin and do its work however, and you need to use it for around 6-8 weeks before you evaluate its effectiveness.

​What to Look for in a High-Quality Skin Lightening Soap

While you are shopping for a skin lightening soap, here is what you should be looking for:

Natural and safe ingredients. 

Make sure that you are purchasing a lightening soap which is free of mercury, hydroquinone, corticosteroids, or other harmful ingredients.

As discussed, ingredients which are effective and safe for skin include glutathione, kojic acid and turmeric.  

A reputable manufacturer. 

Companies that create personal care products may not always be honest about what they contain.

So you need to go beyond checking the ingredients. You also need to make sure you are shopping from a company you trust.

Okay for your skin type. 

If you are sensitive to harsh ingredients, watch out for products which contain especially high concentrations of kojic acid.

As mentioned earlier this common lightening soap ingredient has been known to lead to dermatitis breakouts in some people.

Scent. 

As with any other soap you would use, try to pick a product that smells pleasant.

Texture and ease of application.

If you are particular about this, try to pick a soap which is smooth and lathers up well.

Effectiveness. 

Obviously, a skin lightening soap needs to produce results to be worth purchasing.

You can check customer reviews to try and get a feel for a product’s effectiveness. Look for before and after photos.

KEY POINT: When you are shopping for a skin lightening soap, it is important to be selective to make sure the soap you are getting will be safe and effective.

​Top 10 ​​Skin Lightening Soaps for 2019

​Now that you are familiar with important features and benefits to look for in a skin lightening soap, let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the best choices for 2019.

​If you are shopping for a lightening soap which contains turmeric, one of the best options is this bar from Aspen Kay.

It is popular, highly-rated, and affordable.

  • 4.5 ounce bar.
  • Ingredients: Organic RSPO Sustainable Palm Oil, Organic Unrefined Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Turmeric Root Extract, Organic Calendula Extract, Organic Chamomile Extract, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Turmeric Root Essential Oil, Organic Castor Oil, Kaolin Clay, Organic Turmeric Root Powder, French Pink Clay, Sodium Hydroxide (used in manufacturing; no Sodium Hydroxide remains in the soap you buy).
  • Gluten-free.
  • Organic.
  • Vegan.
  • Not tested on animal.

Pros

  • ​​The list of ingredients is extensive, but if you read through it carefully, you will see it really is all-natural and organic. There is a lot of good stuff packed into this soap.
  • ​​This is a cruelty-free soap which has not been tested on animal subjects. It contains no animal-derived ingredients.
  • ​​​The price for this soap is reasonable and affordable, making it a good option for trying out lightening soap or for long-term use.
  • ​​The soap has a pleasant turmeric scent from the essential oil contained within. Those who would prefer an unscented bar should check back as the manufacturer has stated that this may be available soon.

​Cons

  • ​​​Some customers may find that this soap makes their acne worse (although others may find it makes it better). It seems that different skin types react differently to the soap.

​​What ​​This Product is Best For

​​Think about purchasing this product if you are looking for a turmeric soap for lightening which is rich in a wide range of natural, beneficial ingredients and which is consistently well-rated by buyers.

Need a soap which has a lightening effect, but which also may be able to help prevent future oxidative damage to your skin?

Be Shiny Skin Lightening Brightening Soap uses kojic acid to lighten skin and also includes the antioxidant glutathione which can protect skin from harmful free radicals.

This soap contains papaya extract as well.

This ingredient does not seem to be as common in lightening products as glutathione, kojic acid or turmeric, but it does show up in some.

Owing to its papain enzyme content, it has a whitening effect (9).

  • ​7.05 ounces.
  • Ingredients: Papaya extract, Palm oil, Coconut oil, Sunflower oil , Kojic acid, Licorice, Aloe Vera gel, Carrot powder, Rice flour, Giga white powder, Goat's milk, Rice milk, Hokkaido milk, Egyptian milk, pearl powder, Glutathione, Tranexamic acid, vitamin A, C and E.
  • Exfoliates skin.
  • Manufactured in the USA.

Pros

  • ​You get a lot of soap when you purchase a single bar. It should last you a while.
  • ​​The majority of the ingredients are natural. The exception is tranexamic acid, which is a synthetic amino acid. Research shows this ingredient is safe and effective for lightening (7).
  • ​​​This is a fast-acting product which can show results inside of days for some users. Longer-term use can yield even more noticeable results.
  • ​​With the papaya extract and other ingredients, this soap has a lovely scent.

​Cons

  • ​​​As with any kojic acid soap, redness and irritation are possible for some users.
  • If you want a soap which is all-natural, this isn’t an ideal choice.

​​What ​This Product is Best For

Since Be Shiny Skin Lightening Brightening Soap contains both kojic acid and glutathione, it is an excellent option for treatment and prevention of dark spots.

The addition of tranexamic acid makes it even more powerful. So this is a good option if you want to maximize your chances of achieving fast and dramatic results.

​This soap from Shouvy is largely natural and uses the power of glutathione to produce lightening results. It does not contain any kojic acid or turmeric.

  • 4 ounces.
  • Ingredients: Aqua, Coconut Oil, Glutathione, Glycerin, Palm Kernel Oil, Perfume, Radish Extract, Rice Milk Extract, Vitamin B3, Vitamin C.

Pros

  • ​This is a cruelty-free soap which is not tested on animals.
  • ​​The soap was formulated with a variety of skin types (i.e. oil, dry or combination) in mind.
  • ​​​The ingredients list appears to be all or mostly natural. It is hard to say what “perfume” is, but the rest of the ingredients look safe and beneficial.
  • ​​There are potent antioxidants in this soap which can protect your skin from free radical damage.
  • check
    Whatever the “perfume” is, it does lend a very pleasing scent to this soap.
  • check
    This soap seems to be particularly effective in combating discoloration of the skin associated with shaving.
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    The soap delivers fast-acting results. It is common to see improvements inside of a couple of weeks.

​Cons

  • ​​​Those who want to avoid a scented soap (and vague ingredients) may not want to use a product which contains ambiguous “perfume.”

​​What ​This Product is Best For

​​If you cannot use kojic acid or turmeric because of skin irritation, you might find that this glutathione-only soap makes for a suitable alternative.

​Koji is a popular brand which manufactures a number of different kojic acid-based lightening soaps.

This particular soap contains kojic acid in combination with glutathione.

  • ​2.82 ounces (2 bars).
  • Ingredients: Aqua, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Laurate, Sodium Myristate, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Fragrance, Kojic Acid, Glutathione, Mineral Oil, Ascorbic Acid, Tocopherol, Hyaluronic Acid, Yogurt

Pros

  • ​​While the ingredients list may contain some long compound names, if you do your research, you will find that these ingredients are safe and well-tolerated in skincare products.
  • ​This is a popular brand with a whole line of lightening soaps. If you find that you like one, you may discover others in the line which you also enjoy.
  • ​​​The scent of this soap is pleasing to many people.
  • ​​The soap has a smooth, enjoyable texture.

​Cons

  • ​​​Some people may want to avoid some of the synthetic ingredients listed for this product, and may prefer to use a different soap.

​​What​ This Product is Best For

​​You should consider trying this lightening soap if you are in search of a combination product which can provide you with the benefits of both kojic acid and glutathione.

Just keep in mind that if you want something 100% natural, this is not the best soap for you.

​​One quality turmeric-based lightening soap which is manufactured by a small family-owned business is this one from iHeart Nature.

  • ​6 ounces.
  • Ingredients: Saponified Oils of Sunflower*, Coconut*, RSPO Palm*, and Safflower* (with Retained Glycerin); Olive Oil*; Cocoa Butter*; Essential Oils of Clove Bud, Rosemary, Turmeric; Turmeric Powder, Clove Bud; Rosemary Extract.

Pros

  • ​​The ingredients contained in this soap are 100% natural and non-GMO.
  • ​This soap is vegan and cruelty-free.
  • ​​​The company which manufactures this soap states that its ingredients are “Highest Grade Ethically Sourced.” The palm oil used in it is RSPO-certified.
  • The scent of this soap is very enjoyable, especially if you like cloves (on this point I am quite partial).​​iHeart Nature crafts this soap entirely by hand and cures every bar for 8 weeks.
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    The price is good for the amount of soap you are receiving.

​Cons

  • ​​​Some customers report that their skin dries out when they use this soap. This appears to affect only a minority of buyers, so it depends on your skin type.

​​What ​This Product is Best For

If you are looking for an all-natural lightening soap which uses turmeric in conjunction with other healthy, natural, safe ingredients, this is a good option.

You should also consider it if you want to support a small business that focuses on handcrafted production and eco-friendly sourcing. And of course it is a magnificent choice if you enjoy cloves.

​This turmeric soap for lightening contains a variety of essential oils which contribute beneficial effects while also enhancing the scent of the product.

The soap is very popular and well-rated.

  • ​4 ounces.
  • Saponified oils of safflower**, and/or sunflower**, palm**,and coconut** (with retained glycerin); curcuma longa (turmeric) extract, lavandula hydrida (lavandin) oil, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) oil, pogostemoncablin (patchouli) oil, cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass) oil, thymus vulgaris (thyme) oil, clove bud, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) extract.
  • Certified 85% organic. According to the manufacturer, this is "as organic as a bar soap can get," which has to do with the necessity of using sodium hydroxide during production.
  • Vegan.
  • Handcrafted.

Pros

  • ​​This manufacturer puts a strong emphasis on organic ingredients.
  • ​​Vi-Tae Organic Turmeric Soap seems to be suitable for a variety of skin types, and may even be able to help soothe eczema.
  • ​​​Thanks to the presence of essential oils, the soap has a nice scent.

​Cons

  • ​​​Some customers experience irritation. There are a lot of ingredients in this soap. It is possible that certain skin types may be sensitive to one or more of the oils or to the turmeric.

​​What ​This Product is Best For

​If you are looking for an organic turmeric soap for lightening which also offers you the health benefits of a number of different essential oils, this is one of the best options you will find.

​All of the other soaps which I have included on this list are bar soaps, so I wanted to include at least one liquid soap. WHITH WHITE Skin Lightening Soap is a Japanese product which has been featured in fashion magazines in that country.

  • ​15.2 fluid ounces.
  • Ingredients: Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocamide Dea, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Soluble Collagen, Saccharomyces/Persimmon Fruit Juice Fermentextract, Ceramide Np,O-Cymen-5-Ol,Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate,Peg-150 Stearate, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate,Salicylic Acid, Sodium Chloride, Etidronic Acid, Chloramine T,Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Carbonate, Pentylene Glycol, Skin Conditioning, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Fragrance, Fragrance, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol.

Pros

  • ​​Moisturizing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, persimmon fruit juice ferment extract and seramide help to offset the drying effects of Sodium Laureth Sulfate.
  • ​​The fragrance used in this soap may appeal to a range of buyers.

​Cons

  • ​​​A quick glance at the ingredients list should show you that this product is not entirely natural. The good news is that both the natural and synthetic ingredients contained in this soap appear to be safe and well-tolerated (at least judging from a cursory search of selected ingredients).
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate is notorious for drying out skin, and may cause problems for some users.

​​What​ This Product is Best For

​​This product might be worth considering if you do not like using bar soaps and prefer a liquid soap with a pump dispenser.

​​Previously, I shared Koji White Kojic Acid & Glutathione Skin Lightening Soap with you.

This is another product in the same line from the same brand which does not include the glutathione.

  • ​2.82 ounces (2 bars).
  • Ingredients: Aqua, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Laurate, Sodium Myristate, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Fragrance, Kojic Acid, Mineral Oil, Melaleuca Al Ternifolia Extract, Cocos Nucifera Oil, Hyaluronic Acid, Tocopherol, Ascorbic Acid.
  • This company’s products feature a “concentrated formula” of kojic acid. This, along with their diverse product line, may account for some of their prominence in the skin lightening business.
  • This product is not tested on animals.

Pros

  • ​​The hyaluronic acid and coconut oil in this soap have a moisturizing effect. As the soap also does not contain SLS, it is unlikely to dry out your skin.
  • ​​Pure Kojic Acid Skin Lightening Soap is cruelty-free.
  • ​​​From a sensory standpoint, this soap is delightful all around. It is a cheery, vibrant orange color, and has an accompanying fresh citrus scent.
  • ​​You can get fast-acting results with this soap.

​Cons

  • ​​​This soap is not 100% natural. So if you are looking for one that is, you might want to try another product.

​​What ​This Product is Best For

If you are interested in trying the most “basic” product in the Koji White line, this is it.

It is a great starting point to see if the concentrated kojic acid formula works for you before you try some of the other variants (like the one which includes glutathione or the charcoal version I will share with you shortly).

​Kojie San is another popular brand of lightening soap worth checking out.

While the ingredients are not all natural, the soap can be effective.

  • ​2.29 ounces (2 bars).
  • Ingredients: Cocos nucifera (Coconut) Oil, De-ionized Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance, Kojic Acid, Glycerin, Aqua (and) Xanthan Gum (and) Caprylyl Glycol (and) Glucose (and) Chondrus crispus (Carrageenan) (and) Phenoxyethanol (and) Ethylhexylglycerine, Cocodiethanolamide, Mineral Oil, Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil, Cl 15985, Cl 19140, BHT.

Pros

  • ​​Customers report fast and dramatic results with this soap.
  • ​​This soap is affordably priced.

​Cons

  • The ingredients in Kojie San lightening soap are not 100% natural.
  • ​​​Some customers say that they have experienced acne breakouts while using this product.

​​What ​This Product is Best For

​​This is a cost-effective lightening soap which can make a significant difference in the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

​Next up is another product from Koji White. This one contains kojic acid in a formula with charcoal.

This gives the soap a characteristic black color.

  • ​2.82 ounces (2 bars).
  • Ingredients: Aqua, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Sorbitol, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium Myristate, Sodium Palmitate, Sodium Laurate, Fragrance, Charcoal Powder, Tocopherol, Hyaluronic Acid, Mudstone Powder, Gold, Kojic Acid, Pyridoxine.

Pros

  • ​​Since this soap is free of SLS and contains moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, it doesn’t dry out your skin.
  • ​​The inclusion of charcoal is a big plus (see below).
  • ​The scent of the soap is light and pleasant.
  • ​​This soap can leave skin looking clearer and feeling smoother.

​Cons

  • ​​​There are synthetic ingredients contained in this soap.

​​What ​This Product is Best For

Products which contain activated charcoal have become very popular over recent years in the skincare market. They are promoted for helping to clear up acne.

There does not seem to be a lot of research on this use, so it is too soon to declare for certain from a scientific standpoint that charcoal works for this purpose.

But I can definitely report from personal experience with hormonal acne that products which contain activated charcoal are about the only ones that have given me any extensive benefits.

As a lifelong acne sufferer, I have been impressed.

So you should consider Koji White Kojic Acid & Charcoal Soap if you are prone to breakouts and are attempting to fight both acne and hyperpigmentation simultaneously.

​​Conclusion

You are now familiar with some of the most highly-rated and popular skin lightening soaps which are on the market today.

When you are shopping, avoid products which contain dangerous ingredients like mercury.

Stick with those which contain safe and effective ingredients such as kojic acid, glutathione, turmeric, and papaya.

Remember to start with just a brief application to make sure that your skin likes a product before you start applying it for minutes at a time.

Commit to using the lightening soap you have chosen for at least 6 to 8 weeks before you judge the results.

Be consistent and you should get the best outcome.

Most importantly, keep perspective. No lightening soap is guaranteed to get you the full results you're looking for.

But with a bit of luck and the right product, hopefully you can move closer to your ideal.

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  • February 15, 2019

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Thanks for this interesting (and huge) article. I can appreciate someone wanting to reduce the appearance of freckles or other blemishes, as well as increase the glow of their complexion. Although it rubs me the wrong way, I can also appreciate someone having a preference for appearing paler. But anyone who feels that access to job or marriage opportunities requires a change in their skin tone should realize that they’re falling victim to a cultural failure. I hope all of us would work toward changing society rather than changing people’s skin tones.

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