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Why Dark Skin Should Stay That Way: The Dangers of Skin Bleaching


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While those with pale or fair skin try to darken their complexion by sunbathing, using tanning booths and spray-on/rub-on tans, it appears that the population with darker skin are putting forth just as much effort to achieve a lighter skin tone using whitening creams and soaps. Skin bleaching is big business, especially in Africa and Asia despite the dangers and bans on certain cosmetics in some countries. Although Nigeria is driving the skin lightening bandwagon with 77% of the population admitting to using whitening products, Asian countries may soon take the reins with a 100% increase in sales of bleaching products every year for the past five years. That’s why it comes as no surprise that the latest cautionary tale about skin bleaching comes from Asia.

why dark skin should stay that way

Earlier this month, Kanebo, a Japanese cosmetic company, recalled 54 cosmetics due to adverse effects reported by consumers not only in Asia, but the UK as well. Reuter’s reports one woman used the company’s skin whitening products on her face, only to end up with unsightly, itchy, light blotches on her neck. She never suspected the “beauty products” as the culprit.

Skin bleaches (lighteners, brighteners, whiteners) containing either mercury or hydroquinone, are widely reported to be dangerous and each comes with its own set of health risks including: liver and kidney damage and skin cancer. But apparently, these are not the only ingredients to avoid. Since the recall, Kanebo has launched an investigation into its products containing a chemical called Rhododenol.

If you are contemplating skin bleaching, do your homework. A word of warning: just because you don’t see the words mercury or hydroquinone in the ingredients on a product doesn’t mean it’s not in there. Some companies list them under alternate names, but, sadly, some won’t list them at all even though they are required to. If you feel like skin lightening is a must for whatever reason, maybe even to just soften a scar, there are products believed to be safer alternatives to those containing dangerous ingredients. Look for products that list kojic acid, vitamin A, vitamin C, or licorice as the active ingredient. This isn’t a complete list of safer options, but it’s a good place to start. And just because it’s deemed safer does not mean skimp on your homework. Once you find a product you want to try, check out that ingredient list.

Sources
http://www.reuters.com/video/2013/07/31/skin-bleach-fears-grow-after-japan-cosme?videoId=244497251&videoChannel=2602
http://www.punchng.com/feature/nigerians-top-users-of-bleaching-creams-who/
http://health.india.com/beauty/why-you-should-be-wary-of-skin-lightening-products/
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Comments

  1. I’ve used bleaching cream in the past to lighten bites that I got from freakishly aggressive mosquitos in Florida O_O. Other than that, I don’t think skin bleaching is really safe.

    • LaTonya Miller says:

      I’ve used it on acne marks and to lighten old scars. The ones with mercury or hydroquinone are the worst. They can cause skin cancer and liver/kidney problems.

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