Glutathione injections, are the new hype in cosmetology! These injections are lately being popularized for their skin-lightening, anti-oxidant effects. Many celebrities have endorsed it. If you’re a skincare enthusiast, you would’ve surely come across the multiple glutathione products, but are they really effective?
Article by Sai Varshini. N
Why is glutathione so sought after?
Societal standards and cultural superstitions about having fair and flawless skin have often gotten the best of us, and the global beauty industry takes it to its advantage and equates attractiveness to success. It’s an obsession in many cultures too. It has inevitably become many people’s goal to become this textbook definition of ‘beautiful’. Many individuals often succumb to the deeply ingrained unethical beauty conventions and eventually end up using procedures like this to enhance their skin tone.
What is glutathione?
Glutathione is a natural anti-oxidant produced by the liver in our bodies, it is not something we need to look for in diets and supplements since our bodies make it. Its main function in our body is tissue building, immune function, and protein synthesis. The skin lightening and anti-hyperpigmentation effects of glutathione, however, were actually discovered by happenstance. Glutathione is an FDA-approved drug to treat side effects of chemotherapy and alcoholism. It was when treating these patients, that doctors and researchers discovered its dermatological uses. However, the FDA hasn’t approved its usage for skin-lightening purposes, yet skin clinics continue to promote its utility.
How it’s done…..
Glutathione is administered intravenously, it is either injected in one go or in the form of a drip. The drip is usually infused with vitamin C and other enhancers.
Dr . Aanchal Panth, MD, says that the effects of glutathione are temporary and the results vary from person to person.
To use glutathione, some tests are run on the person, to rule out any possible allergic reactions since it’s an allergen to some. It’s started out by giving it 4 times a month and then, the dosage is reduced to twice and once a month eventually. The dosage can be 600mg-1300mg which varies from person to person.
The hypothesis is that, an increased and constant level of glutathione in the blood stream would eventually inhibit melanin production, the cause for skin colour. However this isn’t true.
Benefits of glutathione injections:
- Lighter skin tone: glutathione lightens the skin by 1 or 2 shades and it gives it a natural glow. It won’t completely alter the shade.
- Prevent hyperpigmentation: it also evens the skin out by eliminating darker patches or spots on the skin.
- Antioxidation: it prevents and reverses ageing by protecting cells from free-radical damage.
- Minimal downtime: unlike most cosmetic procedures, this requires almost no downtime, allowing individuals to carry on with their routines.
- Immunity: glutathione also increases immune strength to an extent.
Consequences of glutathione injections:
- Limited scientific evidence: Though some studies suggest a connection between skin lightening and glutathione, there are no widespread and unbiased studies conducted to give tough evidence. The exact mechanism and long-run effects are yet to be discovered.
- Allergic reaction: can cause severe reactions, from redness and itching to swelling in the face, and wheezing to passing out.
- Health risks: If not assessed correctly, the wrong dosage of the antioxidant could even lead to renal failure.
- Late results: Results would show up after nearly 3 months
- Minimal brightening: glutathione can’t drastically change one’s skin tone, it only gets lightened 1-2 shades.
- Temporary effects: Even if they do give the desired results, maintaining these effects would require ongoing treatments which could be expensive in the long run.
Topical and oral forms, do they work?
Oral and other forms of glutathione are widely available today, but it’s a myth that they work. The oral forms do not function because glutathione gets digested and therefore can’t work. There are vague studies that show evidence of oral glutathione working, but there are also studies that show absolutely no correlation. The topical forms available usually contain other effective skin-active ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, niacinamide, etc. It is not proven that glutathione works in creams and lotions. The skin-brightening delivered by such products can be attributed to the other effective ingredients they contain.
There is minimal and contradictory proof in its favour. The main and primary concern here is not the lack of pressing evidence showing its effectiveness in skin lightening, it rather has to do with the austere issue with the potential adverse effects.
Promoting ideas that fair skin is superior perpetuates harmful beauty standards and societal pressures. There is a difference between taking care of your skin with health in mind and doing it on mere cosmetic grounds at the cost of your life. Where do you draw the line?
Afterall, beauty can’t be defined by standards, it’s defined by you!