Jan 10, 2009

The Dark Side of Fairness Creams

Run an eye through the matrimonial column of a newspaper and the words (or rather demand) 'wanted fair complexion?' scream at you. What is this fixation with fairness?
According to a research by a leading cosmetic company, a major part of the Indian population buys these fairness products.

Taking on the men
Manufacturers have taken to building brand names and a niche market for men. Their argument? The metro-sexual male in India and elsewhere (read Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Korea, Japan, Middle Eastern and other south Asian countries) deserve it!
Reality check!

In a bid to get fair, beautiful skin in a jiffy, you tend to ignore some vital facts.

* Since the skin pigmenting agent, Melanin, is determined at birth (genes) for all humans, fairness creams cannot possibly raise it or add to it using unnatural means. At best, the so-called fairness creams help users maintain a sort of 'status quo' since they contain sunscreen protection that prevents further skin darkening.

* Most fairness creams contain chemicals like hydroquinone, which has a strong bleaching effect. Some contain high levels of mercury that are above the US FDA prescribed contents. These cause skin irritation while ingredients such as koiic acid (a Vitamin C derivative) and retinoic acid (Vitamin A derivative) increase intolerance to sun sensitivity and result in mild to severe skin rashes for certain users.

Vanity, no apologies

The next time you want to buy a fairness cream, pick a quality product containing natural plant extracts that have mild whitening agents (e.g. blackberry, sandalwood, mulberry, saffron, etc.).

Ensure that it adheres to FDA standards for inclusion of skin lightening agents. Conduct a 'patch test' on a small portion of your skin so you know it's gentle on your skin and easy on your mind.