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Is Bleach the Latest in Anti-Aging Skincare?

Reviewed by Marta November 22, 2013 4 Comments

Put away your moisturizer and make a grab for the household bleach. Yes, bizarrely, something that you should never, ever put on your skin is being heralded as an anti-aging skincare miracle. From the BBC to the Huffington Post, the media has been all over a new study from Stanford University School of Medicine about bleach and what it can do to make skin appear younger. But what’s the real story behind bleach and anti-aging skincare?

The science behind bleach and anti-aging skincare

Well, however skeptical I was when I first heard about bleach and anti-aging skincare, it was quickly apparent that some reputable science was behind it. Researchers at Stanford looked at how extremely diluted bleach could treat some skin diseases and disorders. In particular, they were interested in how bleach helped eczema. Diluted bleach baths have long been used to treat eczema, but no one knew how the bleach helped. The real breakthrough of the Stanford team was figuring out that the bleach blocked the expression of two genes known to be regulated by a molecule called NF-kB. In case you didn’t know, NF-kB plays a critical role in inflammation, aging, and response to radiation. The researchers then connected some dots and speculated that if NF-kB is involved in aging and bleach can block NF-kB activity, then could it be that bleach would inhibit aging. Naturally, the question was important enough to submit mice to the cause. And indeed, after a couple of weeks of diluted bleach baths, the lab mice began growing thicker skin. But before you dive under the kitchen sink and whip out a bottle of Clorox, there’s a little wrinkle in the bleach solution to anti-aging skincare. It does not last. Within 24 hours of the last bleach bath, NF-kB is up to its old tricks again.

Safe, at-home, bleach alternatives

The whole thing got me wondering if there are other more stable – not to mention safe-to-try-at-home – solutions to the NF-kB problem. After some internet surfing, I found at least two: curcumin and azulene. Curcumin is a component of the Indian spice turmeric and it is a powerful antioxidant and skin whitener. Azulene can be found in chamomile. Happily, you can find it in safe-to-try-at-home beauty products – typically under the name tetrahydrocurcumin.

And unlike bleach, curcumin and azulene are safe enough to eat.

So forget the bleach and reach for these anti-aging skincare alternatives instead:

Your Best Face Control ($160 in the shop) is an excellent anti-aging serum for wrinkles and sagging skin that as well as tetrahydrocurcumin is packed full of peptides and free radical scavengers.

Read our review of YBF Control here

Ultra Renew Gel Serum  also contains 5% YBF Control

Read our review of Ultra Renew Gel Serum here

La Vie Celeste Eclairage Radiance Serum ($98.50 in the shop) is a great skin brightening serum with tetrahydrocurcumin, alpha arbutin and B-White.

Read our review of La Vie Celeste Eclairage Radiance Serum here

Mukti Buttermilk and Oat Pink Clay Masque ($50) contains azulene and is highly recommended for treating scarring and adult acne.

Read our review of Mukti Buttermilk and Oat Pink Clay Masque Control here


What do YOU think of this study on bleach and skincare? Let us know in the comments.

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  • November 23, 2013

    by Marta

    0.005% is the concentration used.

  • November 23, 2013

    by Marja

    Hmm makes me curious, interested to the % in diluting that was used

  • November 22, 2013

    by Marta

    Good joining of the dots Denise. There are a few different bleaching agents and so I went back to check and the one used for this experiment was sodium hypochlorite. So potentially you could be on to something.

  • November 22, 2013

    by Dennis

    aren't chlorine and bleach similar? does this mean swimming in chlorinated pools has an anti-aging effect?

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