It’s an open secret that Indians are obsessed with fair skin. This very craze feeds the thriving, multi-million dollar fairness industry in India. People swayed by tall (and false) claims, adopt such products while being blissfully ignorant of the side effects entailed.
Skin whitening and bleaching products have often raised eyebrows, especially of consumer activists and for all the right reasons. Yet, a vast majority fails to realise the dangers skin lightening creams pose to their health.
A number of creams that claim to lighten your skin contain hazardous compounds such as hydroquinone, tretinoin and steroids which cause irreparable damage to the skin.  roducts containing such chemicals have been banned for over-the-counter sale in countries abroad.
Prolonged use of products containing hydroquinone and mercury may lead to pigmentation and premature ageing. Or worse still, skin cancer, liver damage and other lethal diseases.
Skin whitening pills come with side effects of a similar kind. Let’s not even get started on the harmful effects of skin bleaching!
Skin whitening products and melanin
Skin lightening products inhibit the production of a pigment called melanin. Abundant in dark skin, melanin protects skin from harmful UV rays, preventing skin cancer. Curbing melanin production robs the skin of its natural protection, making one more prone to skin cancer.
Precautions to keep in mind:
Always read the label of the cream you buy or better still, talk to a dermatologist before using any skin lightening product. You may unwittingly be doing more harm than good to your skin!
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. Spectrometric analysis of mercury content in 549 skin-lightening products: is mercury toxicity a hidden global health hazard? - PubMed - NCBI . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24321702. [Accessed 09 October 2015].
. Skin Lightening Products. 2015. Skin Lightening Products. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.webmd.com/beauty/face/skin-lightening-products?page=2. [Accessed 09 October 2015].
. MERCURY IN SKIN LIGHTENING PRODUCTS. 2015. . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/mercury_flyer.pdf. [Accessed 09 October 2015].