Skin whitening is a big industry, predominantly targeting women of color in every region of the world, with the Asia-Pacific region being the most lucrative.

What is Skin whitening?

Skin whitening is the use of cosmetic products or services to reduce the amount of melanin, or pigment, in the skin to make it appear lighter.

Better prospects for lighter skin? 

The practice dates back centuries, has many names:

  • skin lightening,
  • whitening,
  • bleaching

and has a range of cultural origins depending on the region. 

But the trend is ultimately rooted in colorism and the fact that in many cultures, lighter skin is associated with beauty and better prospects in terms of employment, marriage and social standing.

The global skin whitening market

Here’s more about the global skin whitening market, the culture of colorism promoting it, the industry behind these products and the effect they can have on your health.

The culture behind skin whitening

Lighter skin has long been linked to wealth and status, in some regions due to manual laborers working out in the sun while the wealthy stayed indoors. In others, experts blame colonialism, slavery and globalization.

Are skin whitening ingredients toxic?


Skin whitening products often contain ingredients that are toxic when used cosmetically for long durations and without medical guidance. They not just damage your skin but also cause life-threatening ailments.

Unproven and often unsafe

The chemicals used to lighten skin vary greatly worldwide and are constantly evolving, with antioxidants such as glutathione, as well as vitamin C and collagen now available to inject — most of which are unproven and often unsafe.

Is there any regulation?

However, the three ingredients dominate harmful skin whitening products worldwide and are heavily regulated in most countries — but they remain widely available, and misuse or prolonged use can be toxic to your health.

Source: CNN