skin whitening, bleaching, skin tone, tanning, hyper-pigmentation, skin colour

You may have only just heard about the growing trend of skin bleaching, which is often surprising to hear about when there are thousands of videos and articles showing a step-by-step to achieve a healthy bronzed glow. So what exactly is the problem? Men and women who bleach their skin often resort to dangerous methods in order to get the lightest skin tone, as fast as possible. But is skin bleaching no different to tanning, in order to look like someone you’re not?

Many celebrities including Beyonce Knowles, Nicki Minaj and even Rihanna have been called out for their dramatically lighter skin tone. But has this been achieved through lighter face and body makeup, or something more sinister? Skin bleaching has made it’s way to the streets, with many people resorting to DIY concoctions which are harmful to their skin and overall health. Some popular but highly harmful ways to bleach skin include using peroxide, hair dye and then wrapping the body with aluminium foil for prolonged periods of time to make the process work that much faster.

Is there a safe way to bleach your skin?

A quick Google search will suggest a plethora of forums, articles and websites solely dedicated to lightening your skin. Some of these methods suggest using natural products such as lemon, milk and turmeric, but others dangerously resort to peroxide for a lighter skin tone.

There are a number of products on the market which are known to even out skin tone, and lighten the appearance a troubled complexion. Most of these products are made from hydroquinone which has traditionally been used to lighten dark patches, remove liver spots and decrease the appearance of hyper-pigmentation. Using concentrated amounts of hydroquinone won’t harm the skin, but too much exposure could lead to itchiness, blisters, puffiness, and many other serious side effects if left on the skin for prolonged periods of time.

Insecurities about skin colour

Rather than lightening or darkening skin, we should be teaching acceptance and to love the skin you’re in. Harming your health shouldn’t be at the price of having a great tan, or bleaching the body for super-white skin. The long term effects are not nearly discussed enough, and unfortunately a lack of knowledge leads people to resort to drastic methods for their ideal skin tone.

In 2012, VICE filmed a documentary in Jamaica which uncovered a growing trend of skin bleaching amongst young women and men who seemingly tried to mimic celebrities and people of interest in the media. Although this isn’t only limited to countries such as Jamaica, or even Korea where whitening skin is an acceptable practice. There are many whitening creams available in your local chemist if you look hard enough.

What are your thoughts on skin bleaching? Is it comparable to using fake tan or a sun-bed in order to change your skin tone?

Image via A Womens Club

By Felicia Sapountzis