Fair skin has always been the way to go. Especially in Asian and African countries where Caucasian skin-types are rare. Today this trend is only gaining momentum, with both men and women striving to have fairer skin. India, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia are countries where skin whitening products are sold in ranges, varying from whitening skin cream, night cream to whitening under-arm deodorants and whitening body lotions. You name it, skin whitening covers almost all the segments.

Even as one part of the world is resorting to fake-tanning, fighting against unwarranted beauty trends like skin whitening and trying to prevent large MNC’s from propagating the sale of chemical-filled harmful skin products, the other half has consistently proceeded to go down the more trodden and dangerous path.

Asian women today are demanding more personalized products fit for Asian skin and no longer willing to use imported products from the US and Europe as a substitute. In order to meet this rising demand, companies are advertising, marketing and pumping an immense number of skin care products all promising to give them lighter, whiter and fairer skin, faster and better.

The Road to Cancer

Little do the consumers know that most of the components used in skin whitening products are known carcinogenic substances i.e. they are cancer-causing substances. Different products can lead to different side effects.

Constant use of skin lightening products has now proven to cause cell mutation and damage due to the absorption by the skin. These products also cause the production of free radical cells in your body that causes cancer. While cancer is the ultimate effect, organ failure, liver damage, brain damage, psychosis, depression, blood sugar irregularity etc. are some of the more noticeable immediate consequence.

Ingredients to Watch Out For

Hydroquinone

While proven to be effective, it is also proven to be a carcinogen. Up to 2% regulated use has been allowed in most countries in over-the-counter products, but more than 4% use is dangerous and toxic to the human body.

Mercury

It’s a well-known fact that mercury is a toxic substance. It can cause kidney failure and damage to the nervous system. It another unregulated ingredient in most countries. We try to avoid mercury in our food, but mercury is, in fact, present in skin lightening products and easily absorbed by the skin.

Steroids

Steroids (or corticosteroids) in skin care products cause vasoconstriction or thinning of the blood vessels. This causes less blood to flow to your skin to give it a pale look. However, in the long run, this can affect blood pressure levels, blood sugar levels, cause depression and headaches. It also thins the skin so as to reduce melanin but this actually causes sensitivity to sun and UV rays.

BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) and BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) 

These ingredients are used in small amounts in food apart from skin products. Both are anticipated carcinogenic substances and proven to cause animal cancer, especially above a minimum limit.

Dioxane

This is a toxic substance used to emulsify skin creams and can contaminate cosmetics. It is unregulated in most countries.

Fragrances

Fragrances are used to make the skin cream or product smell nice. They usually tend to be volatile substances and can cause skin irritation and itchiness due to dryness and even inflammation in some cases.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

These symptoms mean that the product is not working out for you and are in probability doing the opposite of what it should do.

  • Ochronosis – Black-blue darkening of the skin
  • Skin Rashes
  • Damage to kidneys and nervous system
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Sensitivity to sun rays
  • Cushing syndrome
  • Skin irritation
  • Redness
  • Drying and cracking of the skin
  • Headaches are an early symptom of cancer to definitely watch out for.

Taking the High Road

Remember that any skin colour is beautiful. There is value in diversity and being able to stand out in a crowd. Resorting to using dangerous chemical substances to lighten skin without being aware of its effects and consequences is costing people their lives. Research also shows that bleaching your skin and most skin whitening products are designed to make your skin dependent on the product. This means that you could potentially never stop using the product because of reverse effects that may occur when you stop i.e your skin will start darkening and dulling. So, wishing for a fair skin is not bad but you must learn about the safe products devoid of harmful chemicals to avoid any harsh results.

Is your life less important than having fair skin? Even if you decide to have an open casket – this is probably a bad way to die. Research the products that you need to use. Find out what ingredients it has and what are harmful. Try using natural alternatives. Consult with a dermatologist to find what would work best for your skin to keep it healthy and glowing.

Resources:

Safer Skin Whitening