How Do We Use Glutathione for Skin Whitening?
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Glutathione for Skin - An Overview

Written by 
Dr. Niharika Singh
 and medically  reviewed by Dr. Dhepe Snehal Madhav

Education: MBBS, Diploma in Dermatology and venerology

Professional Bio: Dr. Dhepe Snehal Madhav is a Dermatologist and Venereologist with seven years of clinical experience. She completed her MBBS at N.D.M.V.P. Samaj Medical College, Nashik, and DDV from the College of Ph... 

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Published on Oct 05, 2022 and last reviewed on Feb 16, 2023   -  5 min read


Glutathione is readily available in the market for skin lightening. It is a powerful antioxidant. To know more about glutathione, read the article below.


In Asian countries, there is a general liking for the lighter complexion. For this purpose, many skin-lightening products are available on the market. The most recent and popular skin-lightening agent is glutathione. It claims to lighten the skin color effectively and make it look younger and glowing. It can be used in the form of tablets, injections, creams, lotions, and soaps.

Glutathione is a naturally occurring antioxidant that is found in the body and helps in various body functions, like tissue repair, synthesis of necessary proteins and chemicals, and building immunity. It is widely available as a skin-lightening agent in the cosmetic industry. However, existing studies do not support the use of glutathione as a skin-whitening agent.

What Is Glutathione?

Glutathione is basically a tripeptide made up of three amino acids which are cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid (gamma-Glutamyl-cysteinyl glycine). It is the chief antioxidant found in cells of the body. Apart from this, glutathione is a protective antioxidant tripeptide, which protects the body cells from free radicals that aggravate skin damage.

What Does Glutathione Do for Skin?

Glutathione not only affects the skin but also has known effects on overall health. However, Its use as a skin-lightening agent is still controversial as there are not enough studies supporting this property. The effects of glutathione on skin and body are listed below:

Effects on the Skin:

Effects on the Body:

Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), India, has approved the use of glutathione for the treatment of the following diseases:

  • Alcoholic fatty liver.

  • Alcoholic liver fibrosis.

  • Alcoholic liver cirrhosis.

  • Alcoholic hepatitis.

In addition, it is very helpful in minimizing the neurotoxicity linked with cisplatin chemotherapy and has been approved by the Philippines Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this use.

What Is the Dosage of Glutathione?

The dosage of glutathione depends upon the form in which it is consumed. It can be consumed in three forms:

  • Oral (by mouth) in the form of pills.

  • Systemic through an intravenous (IV line).

  • Topical application (skin creams, lotions, soaps, face wash).

Patients often have a common query about how many mg pills and glutathione injections should be taken to achieve skin whitening properties. Below are the dosages of glutathione:

1. Oral Pills:

It depends on skin type, body weight, and skin color. The dose is 500 mg daily for four weeks (this dose is still not defined by researchers).

2. Glutathione Injections:

The recommended dose by the manufacturers of IV glutathione is 600 to 1200 mg weekly or twice weekly. However, the duration of the dose is not defined.

3.Topical Products:

Topical products that contain 2.0% oxidized glutathione can be used.

Which Type of Glutathione Is Best for Skin Whitening?

Among all the glutathione products available for skin whitening, oral pills are considered safest to use, and glutathione injections are considered to give rapid results. Topical products like glutathione powder, face wash, soaps, and creams may not be of much use as their action is limited superficially to the skin surface only.

What Are the Side Effects of Glutathione?

Glutathione products have some side effects too. Some of the side effects are:

1. Glutathione Injections:

  • Kidney damage.

  • Liver damage.

  • Severe pain in the abdomen after receiving injections.

  • Thyroid damage.

2. Oral Pills and Topical Products:

3. Other Side Effects:

  • It may accelerate ultraviolet photosensitivity.

  • Skin cancers.

  • DNA damage.

How Does Glutathione Work?

Glutathione products for skin whitening work on the tyrosinase enzyme, which regulates melanin production in the body. Glutathione binds with the tyrosinase enzyme and thus inhibits melanin synthesis. Melanin gives color to the skin. So, the more melanin production, the darker the skin color would be. Similarly, it reduces free radicals in the body, which produces the tyrosinase enzyme and, thus, inhibits melanin synthesis. In addition, glutathione changes eumelanin to pheomelanin which also aids skin lightening.

Increased glutathione levels can help reduce the free radicals that cause wrinkles, age spots, and sagging skin. As a result, when glutathione, the body's most powerful antioxidant, is increased, oxidative stress in cells is reduced, and the skin appears more youthful, glowing, and healthy.

How to Increase Levels of Glutathione Naturally?

Glutathione levels can be increased naturally in the body. Intake of fresh fruits and leafy vegetables, avoiding alcohol and smoking, which increases toxins, and intake of vitamin C-rich foods in the body naturally boost glutathione in the body.

What Are the Natural Sources of Glutathione?

Natural sources of melanin are listed below:

  • Green vegetables.

  • Orange.

  • Walnuts.

  • Tomatoes.

  • Fruits.

  • Whey proteins.


Glutathione was primarily used for the treatment of certain disorders. However, over a period of time, its other properties, such as anti-aging and anti-melanogenic, were discovered. Since then, it has been endorsed as a skin-whitening agent in the cosmetic industry.

It should be noted that not much reliable information supports its safe use as a skin-lightening agent. It has a limited skin lightening effect on the skin that is short-lived. The specific dose and duration of these products are not defined yet. It can not make a drastic change in skin color and can not change the skin color completely. Moreover, it does not have a universal effect on every skin type. It can show results in some patients, but some patients may not get the desired results. It is very expensive as well. Therefore not every individual can afford it.

Long-term use of glutathione has been reported with side effects. After the withdrawal of glutathione, the color of the skin will return to its original state. To conclude, there is not enough research on glutathione to recommend its safe usage as a skin whitening agent with specific doses, duration, and permanent results. So, it should not be administered unless recommended by the doctors.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
16 Feb 2023  -  5 min read

Dr. Dhepe Snehal Madhav

Dr. Dhepe Snehal Madhav



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