For as long as time fair skin has been viewed as more beautiful. Fair skin became popular because those with fair skin were often upper class. Your skin tend to be lighter in color if you did not spend your days working in the fields or under the hot sun. This trend is something that occurred across cultures, globally. Even in countries where there were no Caucasians, those that had the luxury to stay indoors were of significantly light complexion.
People wanted to have a lighter complexion so they can boast of being from a higher class, or being better off financially. Unlike current times, historically marriages took place within the same class, it was usually difficult to marry up. And so began the trend of skin bleaching.
What do I need to know about skin bleaching? Skin bleaching works by reducing the amount of Melanin in your skin. Melanin protects your skin from Radiation caused by the sun and protects your from sunburns or SKIN CANCER. Now let’s be clear people with high levels of Melanin can still get skin cancer but our risk factor is lower. So by stripping away the melanin from your skin you are increasing your risk of getting certain illnesses.
But this alone is not enough to dissuade many from the trend of skin bleaching.You can always apply some sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun right?
Well truth is skin bleaching is just not as safe as we are led to believe. Studies have found that on average 25% of skin whitening products made in Asia and sold outside of the US contains Mercury. That’s one out of four products tested. Many of these products are meant to be used as spot treatments for acne scars or age spots, etc. Using them on your whole body can lead to mercury poisoning. High levels of Mercury can harm your brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system. You can experience insomia, muscle atrophy, tremors, headaches, changes in nerve response, twitching, weakness, emotional changes, impair vision, speech and hearing, lack of coordination, etc. But hey, that’s just with 25% of the products on the market, with the other 75% we’ll be fine right?
Well not exactly. Many skin whiteners contain Hydroquinone as their active ingredient. This works by reducing the production of Melanin. If your body produces a lot of Melanin you need to keep using this product long term to keep the results. Side effects include: severe skin redness (burning or stinging), severe skin dryness (cracking or bleeding), blisters or oozing, blue of black discoloration of the skin. Now call me crazy but if your are trying to fix skin discoloration, discoloration should not be a side effect? Honestly, Hydroquinone is safer than Mercury and some people will use this with 0 side effects and that’s great. But I’m not convinced that it is safe to use daily for the rest of your life.
What many people overlook is the fact that your skin is the largest organ on the body and it’s highly absorbent. It absorbs roughly 64% of what you put on it. This is something we should all be aware of not just with regards to skin whiteners but all products that you apply on your skin. The skin on your face, under arms and genitals have signification higher absorption rates (up to 100% in some areas). What you put on your skin doesn’t stay outside, it gets absorbed into your body. Reading the ingredients list on your products is just as important as reading the ingredients of your food. Yes it’s long and 95% of the time you don’t know what they are talking about, but that’s why we have google. If you don’t know what something is, google it to be sure it’s safe to use.
Now let’s be clear there may or may not be safe methods to whiten your skin. This post is not meant to be a product review post and as such I will not be name calling any products that you should avoid or products that your should choose. This is an informational post to highlight some of the risks associated with this beauty trend.
Personally for the treatment of spots caused by acne scars or hyper pigmentation is use a DIY. I mix juice from 1/2 lemon, 2 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. I put it on the spots I need to lighten for less than 2 mins, wash it off and then use my regular moisturizer. I do not use this on my whole body and I do not recommend this for full body bleaching. As far as my testimony I can only vouch for it’s effects and safety as a spot treatment.
I hope this post helps you all make safer choices with regards to skin bleaching! But most importantly you are beautiful regardless of your skin color. Don’t feel the need to change the way you are to be beautiful. Our differences are what makes us beautiful!