- My article was originally published at “The Woman” magazine- Oman 2015
In today’s society, images of beauty being bombarded on us are thin models and celebrities with white glamorous skin. It is becoming a scary phenomenon that we, as women, especially who are with dark skin, became so obsessed with other people’s words and judgments and allowed them to feed our worst enemy- Our inner critic.
Most of us believe that lightening one’s skin gives us a better self-esteem and a feeling of greater acceptance by the general society; thus, like countless people out there, we become addicted to skin lightening products sold over-the-counter, online or even in our local beauty supply store. The psychological impact for many people of colour to lighten one’s skin in order to fit within the lager’s society’s definition of beauty is now more widespread than ever.
Unfortunately, making poor and ill-informed choices while choosing a product such as this causes a lot of medical issues such as skin discoloration, skin cancer and more. Here are some known hazardous chemicals in skin lightening products that could be harmful to your skin and general well-being.
Mercury: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mercury is a common ingredient found in skin lightening soaps and creams.The most dangerous effect of the inorganic mercury, contained in skin lightening soaps and creams, is: kidney damage, scarring, reduction in the skin’s bacterial and fungal infections, psychiatric disorders, severe birth defects, neurological damage to include a few. Mercury content also effects our environment. Because mercury in soaps, creams and other cosmetic products is eventually discharged into wastewater and when it enters the environment, it becomes methylated and enters the food chain as the highly toxic methyl mercury in fish. Pregnant women, who consume fish containing methyl mercury, transfer the mercury to their fetuses that can later result in neurodevelopment deficits in the child.
Hydroquinone: It is the most common bleaching ingredient used in skin lightening products to slow the production of melanin in the skin and is also found in film developing products. It is used in cosmetics, hair dyes, and medical preparations. Because it is considered a possible carcinogen (a substance that encourages cells to develop cancer) and has risks of causing respiratory issues, it is banned for use in cosmetics in the UK, EU, Japan and Canada; however, it is still allowed in the U.S.
Arsenic: This is immediately thought of as “poison,” which is exactly what it is. Some skin lighteners do contain this as an ingredient.vAlthough lots of these products are banned in many countries, they are still available for sale over the Internet providing unlimited access to potential customers. Be aware that when using any skin bleaching product, if you do not protect yourself from UV rays of any kind, since the natural protection of melanin has been hindered, any dark spots you have will actually grow darker.
Beauty lies within
Have the courage to accept your own beauty. It is easy to blame our insecurities on external influences, but take a look at your inner self and take full responsibility of your emotions. If you cannot love yourself for who you are, then you will never feel good enough to love others and get what you deserve. By changing your mindset and how you feel about yourself, you can radically change your life. Make informed choices and always read instructions before you pick up your product and do consult a professional. Ultimately, your beauty is your inner glow.