What Are the Risks of Whitening Your Skin With Glutathione?

Since glutathione is a naturally present antioxidant produced by the human body, its detoxification and skin lightening effects have not been proven by medical science to be safe or effective, explains Scott Gavura for Science-Based Medicine. Typical medical risks are associated with intravenous injection in case of incorrect technique or introduction of harmful microorganisms into the bloodstream, and some methods of topical administration often contain other ingredients that may be harmful. Most experts advise caution and careful consideration before use.

There is little evidence that glutathione use is either harmful or beneficial, though most published studies indicate slight benefits or no results, according to Gavura. Because research chiefly exists from neuropathic health professionals rather than their science-based counterparts, some medical professionals advise caution and recommend further research on oral consumption, topical application and injection of the antioxidant.

Oral consumption of glutathione, which is already present in some foods, does not link to its levels in blood and is likely minimally effective, states Gavura. Some users have reported symptoms ranging from rashes to more serious conditions, and the main concerns identified with the use of the antioxidant involve the lack of widespread research and cultural and societal concerns around discrimination. Instead of being used for its claimed health benefits, glutathione is often used by individuals who equate beauty with skin lightness. This is considered psychologically harmful and is one reason its use is widely debated.