The Adverse Effects of Body Creams and Lotions

Woman in bikini pouring suntan lotion in hand

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In the quest for radiant, healthy-looking skin, people can use a variety of skin creams and lotions. Whether for sunless tanning, spray tanning, hair removal, skin bleaching or just simple moisturizing, some body lotions and creams can have adverse side effects. Before using any of these common beauty products, it is important to understand possible side effects.

Sunless or Spray Tanning Lotions

As more people seek ways to restrict exposure to sun's damaging ultraviolet rays, sunless or spray tanning has rapidly gained popularity. It's a way to get a summertime glow without the risk of skin cancer. While these lotions and sprays keep people out of the sun, many are made with dihydroxyacetone. The Los Angeles Times reported that this sugar compound was approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a temporary color additive for skin. As use of these products increases, the FDA reports side effects of dizziness, coughing and -- in severe cases -- fainting from the odor.

Hair-Removal Creams

Hair-removal creams are intended for use as a painless method to eliminate hair from skin. Both prescription strength and over-the-counter hair removal products provide written instructions for use but, the creams are not without risk. The prescription cream, Vaniqa, warns of potential adverse side effects including skin burns from overuse, darkening of the skin where applied, strong skin odor from chemical ingredients used and uneven regrowth of hair. When using over-the-counter hair removal creams, it is important to first test the product on a small area of skin.

Skin-Bleaching Creams

For those afflicted with acne scars, age spots or other skin discoloration, bleaching creams can be used to lighten the darker areas of skin. While the products work by decreasing the melanin, or skin pigment, the risk of side effects is considerable. Available both over the counter and by prescription, these products contain hydroquinone. According to WebMD, prolonged exposure to this chemical could lead to permanent skin discoloration. In addition, the steroids in bleaching creams can lead to skin thinning, acne and risk of infection. Mercury is illegal in products manufactured in the United States, but some bleaching creams made in Asia and sold in the United States do contain mercury.

Scented Moisturizing Lotions

One of the most basic beauty products, scented moisturizing lotion, is used to soften and smooth skin while leaving a fragrant aroma. Applying these lotions after a shower or bath can leave a perfume scent on skin for hours. People with skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema may find that scented lotions cause rashes, inflammation or other irritations. If these side effects happen, it is important to wash off the lotion immediately and switch to a more gentle product.