Skin- bleaching: A fair concept?
It is no surprise that India is obsessed with fair skin. I have always thought about why most people equate beauty with fairness. You read any matrimonial magazine, website or newspaper and you can find that there is an everlasting need of “tall, fair, beautiful” women. No value is placed upon her individual identity, likes and dislikes, qualifications, skills etc. Even the media is rampant with advertisements that are biased towards fair-skin and use the vulnerability of dusky-skinned people as a means to market and sell their fairness products.
The obsession of having a fairer skin amongst us has allowed many gimmicky companies to convince us that our happiness ultimately depends on our fairness. It is an encouraging sign to see the dawn of the “dusk” on the silver screen but the basic mentality of most Asian cultures remains intact, i.e. Fair is beautiful. Indians are known to place ‘skin bleaching’ as an important step in their grooming routine. Today I am going to list out reasons why skin-bleaching ends up destroying skin.
- Enjoy looking like a panda? Using skin lighteners over time can cause thinning of the skin around eyes as that’s the most sensitive region and this may lead to hyperpigmentation of the area around eyes, an effect known as “bleach panda effect”.
- Premature ageing- Using skin bleach will result in skin thinning and gradually make your skin wrinkled and damaged over time.
- More damage when you go out in the sun- UV rays will affect bleached skin even more harshly. Most bleach products contain hydroquinone, which can make the skin more vulnerable to harmful rays from the sunlight.
- Carcinogenic agents- Most skin-whitening products use active ingredients, such as mercurous chloride and hydroquinone which are extremely toxic and cause cancer. Hydroquinone has now been banned in Europe and in many other countries can only be prescribed by a dermatologist under strict circumstances.
- Uneven skin tone- Initially, the bleaching cream will tend to lighten the skin, but oxidation between the sun and chemicals starts darkening the skin and the skin may either appear lighter or darker than normal; there may be blotchy, uneven areas, patches of brown to gray discoloration etc.
- Aggravated skin diseases- Skin diseases like acne, eczema, dermatitis, etc may worsen up after a skin-bleaching session.
- Abnormal healing- Normal skin heals itself through 4 processes: Haemostasis (blood clotting), Inflammation, Proliferation (growth of skin tissue) and Maturation (remodeling). When the skin is exposed to continuous doses of skin whiteners, it loses its ability to heal exacerbating injuries, lesions or rashes.
- Mercury poisoning- Many bleaching agents contain mercury and according to WHO, mercury poisoning can cause: Kidney damage, skin rashes, discoloration and scarring, reduction in skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy (damage of peripheral nerves), nephrotic syndrome (a condition marked by high levels of protein in urine)
So ladies, better stay away from instant gratification provided by skin whitening agents, as they are very harmful in the long run. It is always better to invest in organic skincare and using home remedies to make your skin achieve a healthy glow. Also, learn to love your melanin, it gives your skin a built-in armor against sunlight and ageing.