Why Is Skin whitening a Worldwide Trend?
Skin Whitening / Skin Brightening / Skin Lightening is a taboo, but at the same time, skin whitening treatment is one of the most sought after procedures in India.
The search for fairer skin or a lighter skin tone goes back centuries and is deeply rooted in the Indian psyche. It dates back to 700 BC in Asia with stories of how Indian Queens used herbal concoctions to maintain their complexion. Why is skin whitening hugely popular?
In India, more than half of the skincare products sold are in the Skin whitening category. India sells more skin whitening products than the amount of Coca Cola sold, which will give you an insight into the market mentality.
In China, the skin whitening and skin lighting category are worth billions yearly. This industry dominance by skin whitening products is seen in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and African regions predominantly. It seeped into the culture going back to the days of colonialism and even further in the other regions.
The queens of the past have also played their part in glorifying lighter skin tones by using goat milk and certain herbal potions to keep their skin fair. The impact of the media, billboards, and celebrities has also led to the continuing fad in the new world for the quest for skin whitening treatments. Despite Governments across many countries banning skin whitening creams and skin whitening treatments, the demand has not waned.
Skin whitening trends:
Numerous products in the market claim to make one’s skin tone lighter. Understanding the vital active ingredients is essential to be safe while undergoing skin whitening treatments
Common topical Ingredients
Hydroquinone is one of the strongest bleaching agents known. It bleaches the skin to make it look whiter. It is a pharmaceutical/medicinal ingredient and to be used on prescription only for a limited period.This famous skin whitening cream is used in a concentration of 2% – 8%. Hydroquinone is now a banned substance as it has led to overuse and adverse events like ochronosis, which is irreversible.
- Kojic Acid
Kojic Acid is a by-product of fermentation like in Soy sauce or Sake, but also commonly made from Fungi/mushrooms. It is not to be used on people with mushroom allergies. It is one of the most common OTC agents used today in skin whitening creams. Kojic Acid is used in a concentration between 1% – 5% for a limited period. It works by reducing the production of melanin (pigment). Kojic acid is also known to cause contact dermatitis. Hence, one should watch out for this.
- Azelaic Acid
Azelaic Acid, a natural acid product, is found in barley, wheat, rye. It is popular for its anti-inflammatory action on the skin and commonly used in treating acne. It is used for skin whitening treatments as it reduces the melanin content in the skin. As an OTC, it is available in 10% – 20% concentrations and is especially helpful in people who have inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Emblica is also known as Amla or the Indian Gooseberry. It is renowned for its strong antioxidant activity. It is also a potent anti-inflammatory.
Emblica works by reducing the tyrosinase enzyme, which reduces melanin production, making the skin look lighter. Hence, it has become popular as a natural skin whitening ingredient in cosmetic creams. Due to its potent antioxidant activity, it reduces the free radical damage on the skin and helps in photoprotection.
Licorice is a herbal extract. It’s the root of the liquorice plant that contains the active ingredient glycyrrhizic acid. It is also commonly called Glabridin. This inhibits the tyrosinase enzyme that reduces the melanin and leads to skin whitening. It also has anti-oxidant activity making it photoprotective in the long run
Arbutin is a natural extract from the bearberry plant. It’s a naturally occurring derivative of hydroquinone. Its efficacy is similar to hydroquinone without adverse events. It also has a photoprotective effect and can be safely used daily to protect the skin and lighten pigmentation. It gained popularity in natural skin whitening creams/gel in Asia.
It is also known as Nicotinamide and is a form of Vitamin B3 found in whole grains and greens. This works in skin whitening treatment by reducing the pigment/melanin transfer from the pigment cells to the skin cells. A minimum of 5% is required for it to be active and show results. Along with skin whitening properties, it has proved to boost skin hydration and collagen.
Common skin whitening treatments:
- Designer Chemical Peels
Chemical peels remove the dead skin on the surface and increase the cell turnover rate. Designer Peels for pigmentation are commonly used for skin whitening treatment. In these, milder acids like glycolic acid, lactic acid are combined with skin whitening ingredients like kojic acid, arbutin, liquorice, and Vitamin C. Once the skin is peeled, the potent skin whitening gel is applied so that it gets the deepest absorption. Over the next few days, the top layers of the skin flake off, leaving behind a brighter, lighter skin.
- QSNDY Lasers
Specific lasers like the Revlite or Clearlift lasers are known to work on pigmentation. As the laser beam is aimed at the skin, the burst of the beam disperses and scatters the pigment, making them smaller in size, and over time with repeated treatments, the skin whitening effect is seen.
- Skin Whitening Injections
Over recent years, Skin Whitening Injections have gained immense popularity.Use of Glutathione as a super antioxidant with Vitamin C or NAC has shown to lighten the skin color/tone in certain skin types. This is the latest trend in skin whitening treatment.
Why is skin whitening so popular today, despite many asking for a ban? Skin whitening is ingrained into the regional DNA of a person, and by constant exposure to media messaging and celebrity endorsements, this industry is booming. It is only now that the younger generations are starting to be more comfortable in their own skin in recent years. Slowly, we may see that skin whitening treatment is not as popular. Until then, it is best to seek a skin doctor’s advice regarding what best suits you the best.
Kosmoderma Skin, Hair & Lasers Clinics are dedicated to medical excellence in the field of Cosmetic Dermatology with international accreditation and facilities.
We offer scientifically proven treatments using US FDA approved technology. All our products have undergone extensive research and trials in the USA, Europe and India. We pride ourselves on offering safe, effective and affordable treatments with high standards of quality. Kosmoderma gives personalized consults with skincare and uses a facial analyzer and 3D imaging of the skin to analyze and personalize the treatments and skin regimen.