Our skin color is determined by our genetic codes, and manifests in the form of melanin. The higher your melanin count, the darker you get. Have you ever wondered why you always become darker after roasting under the sun? Your melanin count just shot up right then – and since it can increase, it is logical to deduce that it can decrease, too. Thus, those who are always exposed to the sun are always looking for skin whitening products.
Most women, especially Asian women, would prefer to have fairer skin, thus the look for skin lightening creams. Fairer skin translates to greater beauty, and when coupled with a killer body and looks you get the stereotypical Asian darling. Darker women are beautiful in a different way, but the influence of Western culture plus Asian powerhouses cum tiger economies China, Japan and Singapore (whose people are relatively fair-skinned) prove dominant.
People want to be fair. So it is not that unsurprising that they scratch their heads in puzzlement over those who bask in the sun to get tans. But here’s the problem. It’s easy to get darker skin – anyone can tell you that; just go under the sun! – while lighter skin is a much bigger, despairingly constant challenge. One little slip and your skin will blush a little darker. It’s an uphill battle, but thankfully it’s not impossible because of the presence of skin bleaching products.
This obsession with fairer skin is what drove the demand for skin whitening products. Creams, mostly. Skin bleaching has become a common fixture on beauty shelves, which various brand names from prominent ones to fresh names in the niche. Skin whitening creams usually contain chemicals that brighten the skin. This chemical cocktail, while effective in some cases, is detrimental to those with allergies or sensitive skin.
When these chemical-based skin bleaching creams react negatively with your skin, you’ll have to be prepared for pretty disastrous results, assuming you care a lot about your complexion (since you tried to whiten it in the first place). In fact, the effects might be irreversible and you’ll be riddled with regret for a long time. A note of advice, then: read the label, and read it carefully. And if you find something that is incompatible with you, put it back regardless of what it promises you.
Does this mean all is lost?
Far from it! With all the hullabaloo about going natural, manufacturers of skin lightening creams have followed suit. Natural-based creams are less damaging to the skin in the long term. The chances of triggering an allergic reaction are lower, though you still have to read the label to ensure they do not use anything you’re allergic to.
Natural-based skin whitening creams are gentler on the skin. When the substance is absorbed it does not have as many potentially harmful effects as a chemical-based equivalent. Chemicals can cause a variety of problems, including but not limited to skin discolouration, allergic reactions and even cancer. Examples of chemicals commonly found in skin bleaching creams are hydroquinone (skin irritation – and skin disfigurement in severe cases) and tretinoin.
What Makes a Good Skin Whitening Cream?
i) Mother Nature’s recepies
A general rule of thumb is: the more natural ingredients used, the better. If your wallet can afford it, go for an all-natural skin whitening cream. But there’s a catch. Like most things touted natural, such creams come with a heftier price tag. This might make more price-conscious consumers hesitate. Is it worth the higher price? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’, especially if you open your mind’s eye and realise that there are more angles to approach the dilemma than just the price factor.
The word ‘natural’ is sometimes misused to trick consumers into buying a particular skin bleaching cream. These not-really-bogus creams have a crafty – if not very funny – way to fool consumers and yet stay true to what they claim to be. Yes, they may have a number of natural ingredients – but what is the percentage and the ratio of natural versus chemical ingredients? The manufacturers of the cream would be foolish to tell you, and as such more often than not you become an ignorant, gullible sheep. One way to circumvent this would be to check on reviews regarding skin whitening creams online prior to your cream-hunting expedition.
ii) Added benefits
Since you’re already going to splurge on some skin lightening cream anyway, why bother spending even more to protect your face while and after you use the product? All-in-one products are all the rage nowadays because they are so convenient: mobile phones are telecommunication devices, cameras, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and even tablet hybrids nowadays; likewise, skin whitening creams can be skin problem relievers and skin rejuvenators at the same time. Why use three different skin products when you can use just one?
Preserving your Skin Whitening Cream
Skin lightening creams have relatively long shelf lives and expiry dates, but improper care will hustle that date into a nearer future if you aren’t careful. That bottle of cream might be expensive (and it might not, but you probably wouldn’t want your cheap cream dying on you prematurely either) and you wouldn’t want to lose it out of carelessness.
Most of this is common sense. For starters, you should always read then follow the instructions on the box containing the cream. Those instructions are meant to preserve the cream until its expiry date, and if you follow them diligently you might find that your cream will still remain usable for a period of time past that date…assuming you dare to use it, that is. The scare caused by products that have exceeded their expiry dates is rooted in solid reasons, but there’s usually nothing wrong with giving or taking some time after the printed date if you’ve taken good care of the products. So the next time the manufacturer tells you to ‘store [the product] in a cool, dry place’, you’d better comply.
Mind the packaging when you’re out shopping for a skin bleaching cream that suits you. Make sure it is sealed at the moment of purchase. This is perhaps a no-brainer to some, but it’s still worth mentioning. Depending on the ingredients used in the cream, the material the container is made of might become a deciding factor too. For example, you should avoid creams containing hydroquinone if they come in clear containers.
Skin lightening is a widespread practice today. It isn’t just for making your skin fairer. Have you any age spots, skin discolourations, and the like? Then skin whitening creams might just be the solution you need to start looking younger and livelier again. Happy hunting!