Among Indian society there is an absurd perception of beauty. A fair complexion is considered to be an essential attribute, especially for a girl, to be perceived beautiful. This trend has been responsible for the growing market of fairness cosmetic products both in rural and urban areas. Despite a multimillion dollar market of such products in our country, the question is do these products work?
Our skin colour is determined by our race and genetic lineage which in turn decides the amount and structure of melanin. Fairness creams can only work to a certain extent. As per dermatology studies, achieving fairness by up to 20 per cent is possible, but not more than that. The fairness creams only block sun rays and prevent secretion of melanin. Thus these help in reducing tan and restoring natural skin.
Extreme use of fairness creams can lead to severe skin damage. Fairness creams usually contain harmful bleaching agent such as hydroquinone and metals like mercury, lead, nickel, chromium. Some creams may have high-levels of steroids that can cause the following problems:
- Thinning of skin.
- Discoloration of face.
- Capillaries become prominently visible.
- Severe acne.
- Hypersensitivity to sun.
- Rebound paradoxical pigmentation.
- Facial hair growth.
- Skin allergy.
- Skin cancer.
Thus these creams should always be used judiciously only under the supervision of a certified dermatologist.
— The writer is dermatologist and Director, Delhi Skin Centre, New Delhi
Do’s and Don’ts
What to do
- Moisturise twice.
- Wash skin with clean water thrice a day.
- Use a sunscreen lotion to prevent tanning and harsh UV rays.
- Use aloe-based creams. These work well for inflammation and for tanned skin in Asian weather.
- Usage external barriers like umbrella and shades.
- Drink six to eight glasses of water daily.
- Eat anti-oxidants rich fruits.
- Increase vitamin C intake. It increases cell turnover, helps protect against sun damage and boosts the collagen and elastin production, vital for healthy skin.
- Go for weekly exfoliation to brighten the skin tone. Regular use of an exfoliation removes the old dead skin cells. It is an important part of both facials and body treatments.
What not to do
- Avoid excessive bleaching every 15 days. Bleaches comprising ammonia and hydrochloric acid can cause both minor and severe burns.
- Avoid products that encourage acne breakouts.
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