Skin whitening, skin lightening or skin bleaching is a process of using natural or chemical substances such as soaps, pills, creams, etc. to achieve a lighter complexion.
This practice has been around for thousands of years and is prevalent in many countries throughout the world such as India, China, Japan, Caribbean, etc. In India having a lighter complexion places you at the top of the social hierarchy or caste system. It is thought that light-skinned Indians are rich and educated and can afford to stay indoors while their poor and uneducated counterparts work outdoors. In Japan and China, it thought that having a “milk-white” complexion is the hallmark of beauty.
In modern culture and in our own society, preference is given to those that are fairer in complexion. Having a “light complexion” improves job prospects, social status and earning potential. It is alleged that many entertainment personalities such as Beyoncé, Lil Kim, Vybz Cartel, Sammy Sosa, etc. to name a few, bleached their skin to appear more marketable and appeal to a wider audience.
Skin Bleaching is a multi-billion dollar industry. This is a controversial topic – people who bleach their skin do so in private and don’t talk about it. Skin bleaching may be valid reason for sufferers of Vitiligo but many others do it for vanity and or marketability.
Many bleaching products sold in the U.S. contains Hydroquinone, a powerful bleaching agent. Hydroquinone was found to cause cancer in mice and is removed from bleaching products in Europe. However, products sold in the U.S. and other countries still contain Hydroquinone. Cancer is the # 2 killer in women in the U.S. with heart disease being #1. While it may or may not be beautiful to have whiter skin, skin bleaching should be done with caution. Hydroquinone isn’t the only bleaching agent; there are many peels and acids that aids in whiter skin as well. None of these products or treatments are safe because they contribution to cancer, skin thinning, wrinkles, etc.
I like the Dove slogan – “Love the skin you’re in.” Confidence and beauty radiates regardless of skin color.
What are your thoughts on skin bleaching?