Curly hair, very fair….eyes are blue, lovely too!
Fair and light skin tint is what everybody is bothered about, and this has been a typecast, not from a few years, but ages. Let alone women, it’s interesting to see that even men nowadays are very much concerned about their skin colour. When demand is as such, how could our market sector lag behind in providing a solution to this. Hence, a truck full of skin lightening and brightening hacks…some products, some treatments and millions and millions of other options which we might have never heard of.
Hyperpigmentation is what we call the gig for causing this concerns in us for lightening, whitening or brightening our skin tone. This hyperpigmentation, or dark spots are caused by accumulation of melanin, which, is the result and effect of ethnicity and genetics.
Elaborating a bit more on this-
Human skin epidermis has melanocytes which is responsible for this melanin production, which, in turn results for skin, hair and eye colour. Even though all human bodies have melanocytes concentration almost alike, yet some groups or ethnic groups have accumulation of melanin in higher amount, that results in darker skin tone.
Despite a beautiful and naturally dark skin tone, this very phenomenon creates the urge in women for letting their hands into artificial ways of blooming up their skin and this becomes a happy marketing strategy for capital industry. Thus, we get to see many pills, surgeries and treatments for skin tone lightening. The most desired among all these is an easy way, creams!
Skin lightening and brightening are two terms, which, although are thought to be interchangeable, but are significantly different.
What is widely known today as skin whitening, was popular as bleaching in the 80s and as per some experts, holds the same process as whitening.
While, when we turn to differentiate between skin lightening and whitening creams, we see that the difference comes up according to the severity with which the melanin in our skin is deduced.
Skin lightening creams, as the name suggests lighten the skin tone to one to two degrees below the skin tone. Somewhat like a person was chocolate brown in his skin tone and lightened it to darker- dusky. Basically, the effect is not very much overwhelming.
But when we turn to skin brightening, it is a more aggressive technique.
Our skin is makes and breaks cells continuously. New cells bloom up to replace the older ones. When these dead cells pile up, they tend to make our skin look dull and lifeless. Brightening is a process, thus, used to exfoliate our skin to get rid of these dead cells.
Skin whitening, on contrary uses hydroquinone or mercury in order to strip out melanin from the skin.
Check this BBC Stories about Skin Lightening Cream
Now what is hydroquinone?
It is the primary agent in skin lightening cosmetics/creams that blocks tyrosinase function which is the catalyst in production of melanin. It is commonly used in the treatment of blemishes and dark spots.
Thus, if you want a lighter skin, simply stupefy tyrosinase activity.
Note- Although, hydroquinone is a very commonly used chemical and is considered safe, there have been cases where people have suffered from skin cancer, as in some instances experts have found carcinogens in it.
Now that we know skin brightening, lightening and whitening are three different ways of treating your skin colour, and thus, the creams that you would choose should have a specific basket of ingredients that does for your requirement.
What could be the best ingredients for skin brightening, then?
You need to look for the following in your cream-
- Alpha hydroxy acids, which basically are glycolic acid and lactic acid.
- Vitamin E and A
- Rice bran
What about the ingredients in skin lightening creams?
Lighteners are inhibitors of melanin that make sure you don’t tan in the sun and actively contain tyrosinase. Depending on the formula you use, your skin tone can return to it’s pre-lightener shade.
Key ingredients include-
- Alpha arbutin
- Indian gooseberry
- Liquorice root
- Vitamin A and C
Now, about skin whitening creams!
These are something I would prefer not to put hands on. The primary ingredient, as mentioned earlier is Hydroquinone, which itself goes with a little controversy, plus, you would see the accumulation of mercury in many skin whitening creams.
Here you need to stop!
Mercury is the ugliest way one would go for. Its presence in any product can cause neurotic, psychiatric and kidney problems. Also, its prolonged use can lead to mercury poisoning.
So, before you look for what goes into skin whitening creams, you need to look out for what MUST NOT be present in it. Mercury, calomel, mercauro, cinnabar, mercuric, any name as such and you stop then and there.
If you really want to get a lighter skin tone the market is abundant with option for you. But again, you must not forget, every skin colour is beautiful.
You are beautiful the way you are!
It is interesting to know how people associate fairness with beauty, especially in India, Africa and the Middle East.
The colonial rule released its grip but the urge for Englishness never left some parts of the world, and perhaps will sustain till the end of time.
There is even a Chinese proverb that one white can cover for three ugly, which can be translated as white or light skin colour can cover all your flaws.
And to the contrary, the west seeks a tanned skin, and paleness is more related to illness.
Whatever skin tone we are born with is itself a natural gift, and any alteration with natural law often leads to destructive results.
Hence, however successfully some people may have gone through these treatments and creams, it’s still risky when a new person steps into the decision of altering their skin tone.
Lets hear what model Nykhor Paul has to say about skin colour alterations.
Skin whitening aspirations”, I almost spat my tea out when I read this. Was this PR really saying that It’s aspirational for me and other women with darker skin tones to want to be lighter? I’m so angry and offended. I actually have had someone in my Nigerian family die of kidney failure due to years of their skin bleaching using toxic skin bleaching creams. Having poor self esteem and identity can literally kill you in many different ways. Everyone should love the skin they’re in and own their pretty. My beautiful philosophy is all about elevating and expressing yourself through make up and beauty and celebrating what your mama gave you. The thought of this brand unleashing their products in Kenya makes me very angry. Women should be embrace their beauty and who they are. That’s why beauty is so interesting and important, it’s totally all about identity and how you view the world and how you view yourself- like anything in life this can be positive and negative.
So, this is A to Z of skin lightening and skin lightening creams that you should know. Decide wisely and choose only what is best for you!