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Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. However, cosmetic and beauty brands will tell you otherwise. Look around, and you will find that everyone, everywhere, seems to prefer fair skin – matrimonial ads always seek a tall, slim, fair girl; most of our movies show fair protagonists; and fair models get cast more often in advertisements and on the ramp than dark-skinned ones. This attitude has led many of us to start using fairness creams both for ourselves and sometimes, for our kids too.
Studies have shown that this bias for fair skin colour is more deep rooted in our psyche than we realise it – from employment to purchasing products endorsed by fairer models – the bias we have for fair coloured skin is cruel. And beauty brands are using this bias to make billions of bucks every year – by selling us fairness creams.
Watch To Know Just How Deep Rooted India’s Obsession For Fair Skin Is
6 Reasons to Ditch Fairness Creams For You And Your Child
It is a tempting concept: use a product every day, and you will become fairer, more beautiful than you have ever been before. But before you jump the band-wagon of fairness cream users, consider the following 6 facts about fairness creams.
1. They Contain Bleaching Agents
One of the reasons fairness creams yield whatever results they do is because they contain bleaching agents. These chemicals are what give you that typical stretchy feel and texture when you apply the cream. They are also the reason fairness creams show results in the promised time – because only bleach can work as instantly as that.
However, these chemicals – like mercury, nickel, chromium, hydroquinone – are really bad for your skin in the long-run. In fact, they shouldn’t even be in beauty products in the first place. Studies have shown that inorganic mercury – such as that present in beauty products – can cause psychological problems like depression and anxiety!
2. Long-Term Use Can Lead To Dull, Dry, Patchy and Discoloured Skin
While the initial results of fairness creams may seem promising, prolonged or routine use can give rise to a lot of skin problems. It has been documented that daily use of fairness creams can leave your skin looking worse off than you started!
Many of the chemicals mentioned above cause severe skin discolouration, a process known as refractory pigmentation. It causes your skin to lose its natural colour, leaving it looking darker, patchy, and lifeless.
3. Many of the Side Effects are Irreversible
Refractory pigmentation is a particularly difficult condition to treat. But it is not the only side-effect of fairness creams. The daily use of fairness creams – as is advocated by almost all fairness cream advertisements – can give rise to any of following problems:
- Photosensitivity (skin becomes sensitive to exposure to sunlight)
- Facial hair growth
- Skin cancer
Many of these conditions are lifelong and extremely difficult to treat. Once developed, you will have to live with them.
4. They Do Not Actually Yield Promised Results
While fairness creams give instant results (because they contain bleaching agents), they do not really make your complexion lighter or fair. Also, these results are not long-lasting. On the contrary, the long-lasting effects of fairness creams are detrimental to your skin and your health. But by the time you realise this, it might be too late.
5. You Can Save BIG BUCKS
Surprised? Well – fairness creams cost anywhere between INR50 to INR2000 for a 50g pack. If you use the cream every single day (as the advertisements advise), one 50g-pack is going to last you about 2 or 3 weeks. So you are buying around 2 packs every month. That’s anywhere between INR1200 to INR48000 a year! Can you imagine that?
Add to this the fact that – there is no one stop solution to fairness. Most brands will introduce different products for different ages, different skin types, different seasons… they will even recommend pairing the cream with a similar soap, or facewash, etc. Can you imagine the amount of money you will save if you didn’t have to purchase any of these products?
6. There Is More To Life Than Just ‘Skin Colour’
The single most exaggerated thing about fairness creams is how they incentivise fairness as the one and only thing that is lacking from your life and preventing you from attaining phenomenal success in every sphere of your life. It is both ridiculous and scary: ridiculous because it is not true, and scary because – is that the message we want to give to our children? That your skin colour can and should decide whether you become successful in life?
Did you know that fairness creams have been known to cause not just skin cancer but also unwanted facial hair growth, skin allergies, thinning of skin and discoloration on the face?
What You Can Do Instead Of Using Fairness Creams
- Moisturise your skin before going to bed every night. Wash your face with clear, clean water thrice a day to remove dirt and grime buildup.
- Always use sunscreen while going out to protect your skin from harmful UV rays that age and damage skin.
- Increase your intake of Vitamin C rich fruits like oranges. Vitamin C helps in cell renewal, protects from sun damage and also boosts elastin in your skin and the production of collagen, keep your skin plump and healthy.
- If you are using fairness creams, make sure they are aloe-based and contain very natural ingredients. Aloe suits Indian skin and weather conditions.
- Hydrate! Drink about 2 litres of water everyday and 3-4 if you lead an active lifestyle.
- Have foods that are rich in anti-oxidants like berries, kidney, dark chocolate, coriander, tumeric etc.
- Exfoliate your skin at least twice a week to brush off dead skin cells and keep your skin glowing.
Fairness creams – in their bid to sell themselves – trivialise the success, work, and life of some of the world’s greatest leaders, artists, and philanthropists. Besides, it takes more than just fair skin to be successful in life, and have good, deep, meaningful friendships and relationships.
Still want to buy/continue using that fairness cream?
As a parting thought, we’d like to leave you with this Shekhar Kapur quote:
‘Cosmetic companies are trying to turn India into a nation of Albinos. No dark area on any part of the body. Except maybe our hearts. Got a cream for that?’
Wear your skin – whatever its colour – like a badge, a medal, an honour. Be proud of the skin you’re in!