The unfair remedy of skin-lightening lotions

Dr Vikas Sharma

Discrimination on the idea of pores and skin color as practiced within the fashionable glamourous world is, maybe, essentially the most seen type of racism. The challenge, which got here to gentle lately after protests round #BlackLivesMatter, grew to become so discomforting that some manufacturers, which have, up to now, related equity with marriage, profession and success of their commercials, needed to take away the phrase ‘fair’ from their model title. However, will renaming a equity cream cease this discrimination, particularly when obsession for truthful pores and skin goes past age, caste, faith, and social standing.

The craze with getting fairer may be judged from the truth that skin-lightening or “fairness” lotions are massive enterprise in India. Skin-whitening merchandise are significantly common in Asian international locations like India. This need is exploited with commercials of equity lotions, which attract children, each males in addition to ladies, with guarantees of miraculous outcomes.

Products promising to lighten the face, physique and armpits can be found all throughout the nation, with skin-whitening capsules and food regimen dietary supplements claiming to select up the place the cosmetics go away off. India’s pores and skin lightening business, which is rising at 18 per cent per yr and is predicted to succeed in $1bn this yr, boasts of a plethora of pores and skin whitening lotions, lotions, whitening face cleansers, bathe gels, and even genital washes that declare to lighten the encircling pores and skin.

There are many skin-whitening merchandise accessible available in the market, and one shouldn’t get carried away by the promising outcomes claimed in commercials.


When it involves situations the place an individual with fairer complexion has turned darkish, figuring out the reason for the pores and skin darkening (hyper-pigmentation) is necessary in choosing the right strategy for remedy. Getting a correct prognosis of the pigmentation dysfunction by a dermatologist earlier than present process a pores and skin lightening remedy is of paramount significance. The causes of hyperpigmentation might embody genetic, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, medication, photosensitising brokers, ultraviolet gentle, electromagnetic radiations or systemic illness (e.g. Addison illness, liver illness, pituitary tumors). In order to adequately deal with the sudden or gradual pores and skin darkening, the causative agent must be decided so a particular dermatological prognosis is paramount.

Skin lightening

The particular skin-whitening remedy may also help lighten a tan, fade scars, and alleviate darkish patches on the pores and skin and is completed for particular hyper-pigmented issues.

Topical pores and skin lightening lotions and lotions usually include chemical brokers like hydroquinone, azelaic acid and kojic acid. Plant extracts that may assist in pores and skin lightening when utilized topically embody licorice extract and arbutin. Oral dietary supplements that assist in pores and skin lightening embody glutathione, grapeseed extract, vitamin C. There can also be a small quantity of analysis exhibiting that oral dietary supplements of pomegranate extract, pine bark extract and ellagic-acid can inhibit melanin manufacturing.

Unfortunately, many skin-lightening lotions include unlawful compounds that may injury your well being, the most typical compounds being high-dose steroids. Hydroquinone is a robust inhibitor of melanin manufacturing. Its increased concentrations have been banned in some European international locations due to fears of a most cancers threat.

Hydroquinone generally is a pores and skin irritant, significantly in increased concentrations of four per cent or larger, and predictably when mixed with tretinoin. Fairness lotions provide you with a pleasing image of constructing your pores and skin white over a time frame, however this comes with penalties. Getting fairer quicker can find yourself making your pores and skin look unhealthy in the long term. Among the poisonous elements, heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, lead, cobalt, cadmium, nickel and chromium are a few of the main components. Mercury salt is a generally added ingredient as equity agent.

The unintended effects

The widespread side-effects of skin-lightening cosmetics embody each cutaneous and extra-cutaneous results. All skin-lightening brokers and procedures may be dangerous until finished beneath the supervision of dermatologists. So train warning earlier than beginning such remedies. Non-prescription lotions that declare to bleach or lighten your pores and skin may be dangerous as these may end up in:

  • Thinning of pores and skin
  • Uneven color loss, resulting in a blotchy look
  • Redness
  • Excessive facial hair progress
  • Intense irritation
  • Contact dermatitis

— The author is chief advisor dermatologist, National Skin Hospital, Mansa Devi Complex

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