Tuesday, January 24, 2012
I was at a Sri Lankan barber the other day and after a shave he grabbed a bottle of lotion and rubbed some lotion on my face. When he put the bottle down on the counter I was able to read what it was, an after shave balm that also helps “whiten” the skin. Needless to say I found that amusing -- I don't think I need my skin any lighter than it already is. He probably wasn't even thinking about it when he grabbed the bottle, I've been to this barber shop many times and I've never seen another Caucasian there.
Skin whitening products – what’s the deal with that?
It's definitely something I've never seen in North America. It is however big business in South Asia and because of the huge South Asian population here you can find all sorts of skin whitening products at supermarkets and drugstores.
I decided to do a bit of googling as to why this is. Apparently in South Asia there is a definite preference for lighter colored skin (and before you jump the gun wiki notes it likely predates the British colonial times though it doesn't list a source) and this preference is apparently reinforced by TV and movies in South Asia. Just google image search “Bollywood stars” and you’ll get an idea.
When skin lightening products were first developed they became a big hit and they quickly grew to be a multibillion dollar business in South Asia. All sorts of cosmetics, lotions and powders promise to lighten the color of your skin. Both men and women use them.
My biggest worry is what is in these products. If these products actually do lighten your skin then they have to be doing something to it, and I wonder if long-term exposure to this something is really going to do you a lot of good.
No, really, I don’t want to know.