Whitening Cosmetics: A Look at The Dangers of Skin Bleaching

Skin bleaching: the use of lightening or whitening products have long been on the global market. Recently, it has become a trend which is sold to the masses who are in search of a lighter complexion. “Shady” is a video produced by fashion media company, Refinery 29. Reporter, Lexy Lebsack, tells the story of the possible dangers of certain skin bleaching creams with the most toxic ingredient; mercury. Lebsack’s video about the whitening cosmetic industry and its potential dangers, is part of a series, SHADY. She is an investigative reporter and producer, covering topics about beauty issues around the globe. The Asian market is inundated with whitening creams, lotions and soaps. Shiseido, the luxury Japanese cosmetics line, sells White Lucent with Sakura Resist Technology which is derived from sakura cherry blossoms. This fades dark spots and hyperpigmentation and can be used in conjunction with lasers. Other whitening brands contain less harmful ingredients such as ; Kojic acid, vitamin C and hydroxyquinone. Porcelana’s fade cream has been a staple in the US for decades, but it never made headlines. It showed its brand as an ad for a clear and lighter complexion which helps to diminish age spots and freckles. This video focuses on the country of the Philippines. The Philippines tends to value lighter skin because it can increase attractivity, foster self esteem and creates a feel of a more “beautiful” image. A city spa, Bello, is shown and the owner speaks about the lightening phenomenon. The spa has a procedure where many females flock to use a treatment such as; “The Cinderella Drip”. This IV drip contains glucothiamine which helps lighten the skin. The goal is not to look Caucasian, but to have a lighter coloring which can help the Philipina female become more economically marketable in the workplace and increase their “value” as a beautiful woman. The spa treatments might be relatively safe, but the lower costing creams which contain mercury, are the danger. High levels of mercury can cause kidney and liver damage, leading to death. Lexy Lebsack buys a variety of these creams and takes them to be evaluated. A director at the environmental regulatory board, finds these creams contain on average.. 42,000 times the legal limit of mercury. Some customs agents are overlooking the importation of these mercury infused whitening creams. They feel these products will help the image of the country. The Philippines was under the control of the US, Spain and Japan, gaining independence in 1946. The countries’ history might lend to this trend, but much is new. Social media influencers, show pretty lighter skinned females and they have millions of followers. Young girls see IG pictures and want to look like the latest it girl of Manila. One female said, she has decided not to use these products anymore, as she is pregnant and wants her child to grow up liking their heritage and browner complexion. It is more than skin deep.. One can attribute beauty standards and marketing skincare lightening to a range of variables, but when it comes to safety.. what will someone risk in order to get a particular look.