Over the years, skin lightening has become more and more common among people of all ages and genders. The main reasons why people lighten their skin are to lighten darker areas, self-hate or insecurities.
Skin lightening products’ main aim is to inhibit the production of melanin in the skin. Melanin is what determines the pigment of your skin; how light or dark you are. Other skin lighteners use drugs such as steroids and retinoic acid from vitamin A, as active ingredients.
Many people have darker armpits, inner thighs and necks or dark spots & acne scars that they don’t feel comfortable with so they turn to lightening creams that they believe will help them get an even skin tone all across their bodies. Others bleach because they grow up being told and believing that having darker skin makes them uglier than those who have lighter skin. The ladies grow up being told that the lighter skinned girls are prettier and will get more and better opportunities in life so they believe that lightening their skin is the best option. Men grow up hearing that being dark makes them look dirty or scary so these men lighten their skin thinking their appearance will improve.
Bleaching has been around for a while and we are now aware of the negative effects of applying these chemicals on our skin. The knees, elbows and knuckles will retain their original color and potentially darken after use of these products. Some people experience dryness of the skin after use of skin lightening creams and some look ghost-like with a very pale skin tone. Some also have blotches and different skin tones emerge on their skin leaving it uneven color wise. Skin may age faster as a result of lightening of the skin. Acne, thinning of skin, allergic reactions and skin cancer are potential results of long term use of lightening creams that contain harmful ingredients. As a result, skin lighteners should avoid the sun and use sunscreen. Despite knowing this, some people still go ahead to use the products.
Why is it harmful?
One of the ingredients found in the bleaching creams, hydroquinone, has been banned in several countries including France and Japan because of cancer fears but despite this, bleaching products are still sold in shops and supermarkets across the world. The skin may be more sensitive to the sun’s UV rays. Many skin whiteners have long-term negative effects on one’s health due to the presence of Mercury in the products. Mercury was banned in Europe and America decades ago.
Many popular figures have bleached and openly discuss it. Jamaican dancehall icon Vybz Kartel sings about it in his songs claiming that he bleached so his tattoos would be more visible.
He even has a song “Cake Soap” where he sings about his bleaching. Local artist Khaligraph Jones also sang about his skin lightening on a cover of Future’s “Mask Off” called “Toa Tint”. Another Jamaican artist, Alkaline, admitted to bleaching so that his tattoos would be more visible. Nigerian Bobrisky and Kenyan socialite Vera Sidika have also both publicly admitted to bleaching.
Growing up, many people are told their skin is ‘too dark’ as if there is a limit to how dark you’re allowed to be. There isn’t. All shades are beautiful and you shouldn’t let anyone make you feel ugly just because of your skin tone. You may also feel tempted to get lighter due to images in the media showing mostly lighter people in music videos and movies or glorifying people like Vera Sidika who only got popular after getting lighter.
Do not allow other’s opinions to get you into ruining your skin. Having more melanin is generally healthier for you as you can fearlessly step out and walk around in the sun without worrying about sunburns and such. Love yourself, love your skin because God knew what he was doing when he made you the way you are.
Sources: guyanachronicle, WebMD & thedermatologygroup .