NAC for Skin Whitening: Does It Work? Is It Safe?

NAC for Skin Whitening: Does It Work? Is It Safe?
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For centuries people have looked to whiten their skin. It helps reduce age spots, evens out skin tone and mitigates hyperpigmentation. Advancements in the beauty industry has developed a variety of products to help with this. NAC is one of these, but does it work and is it safe?

NAC derivatives are in many foods and are the precursor to Glutathione production in the body, which can help whiten skin. It can be safe and has the potential for many other health benefits too. But studies are lacking and proper dosage is not standardized.

Because studies about NAC’s effectiveness fall by the wayside with the added fact that it isn’t an essential nutrient, people report mixed results in skin whitening applications. Although many studies do show great promise, there is a dire need for further research. But, using NAC in small amounts shouldn’t be harmful. It’s just that results aren’t certain and it will vary from person to person.

What Is NAC?

NAC is the shortened word for N-acetyl cysteine. This is a derivative of Cysteine, an amino acid produced within the body and is the precursor to the development of Glutathione. It’s what helps the body develop powerful antioxidants to fight off free radicals and oxidative stress. Glutathione is the “master antioxidant” and encourages the body to regenerate more Vitamin C, which is a verified skin whitener.

How Does NAC Work to Whiten Skin?

When introduced into the body, NAC absorbs into the gastrointestinal tract. This goes into the liver and converts to Cysteine. The liver then further converts this into Glutathione, which goes into the bloodstream and is then distributed throughout the body. The body’s conversion of Cysteine into Glutathione is what promotes skin whitening.

This means if you use NAC to try and whiten your skin, it will whiten it by proxy rather than in a direct way. For some people, this may be the perfect method. But, for others, this may not do anything at all and yet some people may experience adverse health effects.

How Do You Get NAC to Work in the Body?

There are several methods to encourage NAC production in the body. The first and best way is to eat foods rich in this amino acid. Things like onions, broccoli, asparagus and cauliflower are all excellent sources; any veggie with a high sulfur content will help with natural Glutathione production. Other foods rich in sulfur are:

  • Almonds
  • Arugula
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Chicken
  • Chickpeas
  • Crab
  • Eggs
  • Fava Beans
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Kidney Beans
  • Leaks
  • Lentils
  • Lobster
  • Milk
  • Organ Meats
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Peanuts
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Scallions
  • Scallops
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Yogurt

But, there are many other things you can do to get NAC into the body to increase Glutathione production to whiten skin. Most people take an oral supplement but there are topical treatments as well.

Is NAC Safe to Use for Skin Whitening?

For the most part, NAC is safe to use in an attempt to whiten skin. Many medical pros and hospitals employ NAC for its ability to loosen thick mucus from the lungs and to treat acetaminophen poisoning. In regards to skin whitening, however, it’s often more dependent on a Glutathione deficiency.

It Might Not Work

If you naturally produce it well within your body, it may or may not work to lighten or whiten skin. Therefore, oral forms of NAC are best for those with a deficiency. But there’s no way to know this unless you have a verified diagnosis with such issues. This is why it’s best to speak with a doctor first.

Potential Adverse Effects

A 2015 study involving NAC showed a potential increase of cancer in mice. It accelerated the growth and invasiveness of tumors once added to their regular diets. The same study also found this to be true for Vitamin E. But, the dosages were in excessive amounts.

Also, an overabundance of Glutathione production can do more damage than any skin you hope to whiten. If you take more NAC than your body needs, it can result headache, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea.

What Other Health Benefits Come from Using NAC?

In addition to treating acetaminophen, or aspirin, poisoning, NAC can improve liver function, alleviate lung damage, help with respiratory issues and improve fertility. There’s even great promise of NAC helping treat the symptoms associated with COVID-19 and inoculation injury, promoting a speedy recovery.

Detox ; Damage Repair

What’s more, it has the ability to detox heavy metals, pesticides, graphene oxide, diesel fuel, silica, chemical poisoning and so many others. It can also help treat and alleviate the pain and negative side effects of chemotherapy and x-ray damage.

Skin Health

In regards to skin, gels, creams and other topical preparations can improve skin heath. It boosts glutathione in the skin that not only protects it from damage but also helps whiten it. Plus, it reduces skin inflammation and normalizes cell development.

In a study of 100 people, a preparation that included 5% NAC reduced mild to moderate acne. There are other animal studies showing promise with the protective power of NAC when applied to the skin. Things like eczema and wound healing can benefit from NAC, but the research is scarce.

Who Should Use NAC for Skin Whitening?

NAC will not be right for everyone, so it’s advisable to speak with your dermatologist, doctor or other trusted healthcare provider. If you’re not a fan of eating things like onions, broccoli, cauliflower or asparagus, taking the supplement could be the best solution.

Also, people who have melasma, chronic illnesses or liver diseases will benefit from taking NAC if they also wish to whiten their skin. If you know you’ve come into contact with toxic chemicals, pesticides or other dangerous substances, NAC will do wonders. For all others, it’s best to talk to a medical pro before attempting to take it orally.

Topical Preparations

That said, you can attempt to apply a cream, gel, serum or other skin preparation with relative safety. But you should source the company where you get it from and ensure it comes from places with higher standards of beauty and drug regulation.

Places like India and China will include ingredients like mercury in their NAC creams. Mercury can cause huge health issues, including brain damage. However, things like this are mostly regulated by American and European companies. They often combine their whitening products with other popular compounds safe for skin whitening.


Taking NAC to whiten your skin can work and be very safe. As the precursor amino acid to Glutathione production, it can encourage more of what your body already produces. But, as with anything, you can ingest too much of a good thing. This means that you could experience health issues if you unwittingly overdo it.

As a topical cream, gel or other skin preparation, NAC should be fine and safe to use. But you should speak with a trusted medical professional before attempting to take it orally as a supplement. Even in the case of purchasing a topical treatment, be sure it comes from a trusted company that abides good regulatory practices.

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