The human skin is the largest organ in the body . It functions in the protection of the internal organs and help regulate the temperature of the body.
With the existence of racism, dark skinned people have been brainwashed into believing that they have to be lighter to be more attractive. You see it all over the beauty industries, movie industries, beauty magazines, skin care industries and even the internet. It’s like everywhere you turn, there is some standard set for you to reach. Since black people cannot wish away their complexions, they resort to skin products that are aimed at whitening the skin, these whitening products could be in form of creams or even pills.
The unsettling part of it all is how in a haste people are to get a bleaching cream than get all possible information about the harmful effects of skin bleaching .
Overtime, there has been a consistent rise in the demand of these skin bleaching products because the typical black woman would much rather prefer a lighter skin to accepting her God-given skin complexion. The social conformity is alarming, the beauty standards unbelievable.
These lightening agents were created initially for specific areas of the body, not the whole body. Even cosmetic experts would advise patients to apply lightening products to small dark areas or spots to improve the overall appearance.
Lightening products when abused may cause complications on the skin as they are full of harmful chemicals that could lead to dangerous problems like skin cancer.
How Do Bleaching Products Work?
The skin contains what is called melanin. Melanin is a pigment in the skin that is responsible for the complexion. Dark skinned people possess more melanin than lighter skinned people.
Bleaching products contain an ingredient or ingredients aimed at reducing the amount or production of melanin wherever applied .
Hydroquinone is the most common ingredient used in skin lightening products. In some countries, the use of hydroquinone is regulated by an agency.
Some other lighteners make use of drugs like retinoic acid and steroids which are sourced from Vitamin A. Natural ingredients like arbutin and kojic acid are also found in some skin lighteners. Kojic acid is a compound sourced from fungus while arbutin is a compound sourced from plants. Below are some of the dangers of bleaching products;
1. Mercury Poisoning
Mercury is a major ingredient in most of the skin lighteners sold. The skin is exposed to this ingredient when a skin lightener containing it is applied. Of every four skin lighteners, one contains mercury , according to one study. Mercury can poison the skin and cause unwanted complications as it is a carcinogen. It also reacts with UV rays ,leading to premature aging and even more pigmentation. The mercury could even be passed to an unborn child if used by a pregnant woman. Prolonged exposure to mercury could also begin to damage the kidney and the lungs.
2. Uneven Colouration
After applying these products for a while, you could begin to notice uneven colourations on your skin. This often results from thoughtless and mindless application of the product. The coloring could lead to the appearance of dark spots or make some parts of the body darker than others.
3. High Blood Sugar
Whitening products contain steroids which are known to cause high blood sugar and hence lead to diabetes. First, the cream begins to slowly pass through the skin pores . It gets into the bloodstream from there, increasing the blood sugar and leading to diabetes.
4. Exposure to Ultraviolet rays
The epidermis is the visible skin ,the upper layer that protects the dermis, the more delicate lower skin. Beyond just the dermis, the epidermis protects the nerve endings, the hair follicles, sweat glands and the capillaries. The skin is thus completely shielded from ultraviolet rays. When the skin is bleached, the epidermis slowly begins to thin and wear away, exposing the dermis and other delicate features. This renders the skin unable to protect itself from the ultraviolet rays. Exposure to ultraviolet rays like that is harmful to the skin and can even lead to skin cancer.
5. Skin Thinning
As said in the previous point, bleaching causes the skin to thin out. However ,being exposed to ultraviolet rays is not the only harm skin thinning can cause. When the skin is thinned out, it becomes easier to get bruises and ugly stretch marks. When injuries are sustained, it becomes difficult for healing to occur. Several other minor skin problems could occur and run out of hand.
6. Dry Skin
One more negative effect of bleaching is skin dryness. Hydroquinone, a key ingredient in bleaching products has harmful effects on the skin. Peeling, skin burns, redness, rashes and dryness are some of the harmful effects caused by it. Because of issues like this, it is advised that you get whitening products only while your dermatologist supervises.
Excessive application of whitening products could cause the skin to begin to wrinkle early. This usually occurs when the collagen fibre is disrupted . The collagen fibre has the skin connective tissues as part of its makeup. With the collagen fibre distorted, the skin begins to age earlier than usual. The disruption of the collagen fibre in the skin is caused by hydroquinone.
In conclusion, before going through with a skin lightener, the following precautions should be taken;
- Lookout for mercury in skin Lightening products. Avoid the ones that contain mercury. You I’ll either see it written as ‘mercury’ or as mercurio, mercurous, calomel or mercuric.
- Speak to a Dermatologist and request for instructions before using any product.
- Whatever product you choose should not contain hydroquinone beyond 2%
- It is safer to drop a product that does not specify how much hydroquinone it contains.
Beyond an idealistically attractive skin, what’s most important is a healthy one. Whether your skin is black or white, learn to put healthy skin first. Love your skin, gush over it, take care of it, keep it nourished and you will realize that you have no need for a skin whitening product.
Never forget, you are most beautiful in your own skin.