The harmful effects skin lightening, bleaching, and whitening products have on people of colour
Skin lightening, bleaching, and whitening is nothing new—for various reasons, men and women of colour have been doing it for years. However, in the digital age, the skin lightening industry is booming more than ever. With celebrity endorsements and social media advertising running rampant, it’s essential to be educated on products before use. Studies have shown that black men and women are most vulnerable to the harmful effects of skin lightening, bleaching, and whitening products—but why?
What’s in them?
Commonly, skin lightening, bleaching, and whitening products contain ingredients such as hydroquinone, tretinoin, mercury, and steroids. Hydroquinone, in particular, is commonly known to be the most effective skin lightening agent—working to stop the production of melanin. However, many researchers consider hydroquinone a highly toxic chemical, especially with long-term use. Some studies have even revealed that hydroquinone has been known to cause cancer in laboratory animals.
In 2001, the European Union banned hydroquinone from its cosmetics. However, Canada and the United States have failed to do the same. Rather, hydroquinone is regulated under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999––restricting hydroquinone-containing health products to be sold only with doctor prescription.
What long-term effects are people of colour more at risk of developing?
Identified by it’s blue–greyish hyperpigmentation and bumps, exogenous ochronosis is most commonly known to occur to individuals of colour who use topical skin lightening products.
“The most severe and widely recognized side-effect of chronic hydroquinone [use] is called exogenous ochronosis, which is a paradoxical darkening of the skin,” said Dr. Neelam Vashi, a dermatologist at Boston University Medical Center.
Black men and women who use skin lightening products increase their risk of developing skin cancer. Though darker skin tones are less likely to suffer from sun-induced skin cancer, the alteration of melanin production resulting from skin bleaching puts an individual exposed to strong UV radiation at greater risk than before.
Black men and women already have a high risk of developing diabetes, but due to topical steroids contained in skin bleaching products, that risk is increased exponentially.
“With high-potency topical steroids used for a long time, you can get suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system. And with that suppression you can get these endocrine problems like Cushing’s disease and diabetes,” explained Dr. Vashi.
With the long-term risk of exogenous ochronosis, skin cancer, and diabetes, why fuel the skin lightening industry any further? Skip the harmful effects of chemicals and go natural! OilBlends offers a variety of toxin-free products capable of diminishing dark spots, blemishes, acne, age spots, and skin discoloration.
Plant-Based beauty product is an alternative to harsh chemicals