Addicted to fairness creams? Not fair

by Arunima Srivastava

With fairness market booming with men too now wanting to become “fair and lovely,” wonder if anyone stopped to think of its side-effects!

First it was Shah Rukh Khan who created a buzz with his Lux soap commercial and now it’s Shahid Kapoor who’s hit the headlines for promoting Vaseline men’s face whitening lotion. While fairness creams had remained the domain of women, we have men, who have taken them up rather seriously.

Resultantly, the “fairness” market is booming what with men  too getting in the line to become “fair and lovely.” But in the bid to look good, has anyone thought of its side-effects?

Dermatologist Dr. Amit Vij, says, “Face whitening creams are harmful for all — be it man or woman. They might be in great demand for the fair look they promise but the only ones who’ve been regular in using it would know the harm that the creams have caused to their skin. That’s not to say that the person didn’t achieve his goal — of looking fair, but at what cost?”

But going by the texture of men’s skin and presuming that their fairness creams have higher quantity of bleach, are men at a higher risk of skin damage? “Like I said, these fairness creams are bad for men and women alike. And as for men, their skin is only slightly rough on the beard area; rest is as sensitive and prone to reactions.”

He continues, “The main ingredient of these fairness lotions is bleach, so you can understand how people turn fair. And  it is just that that causes all the harm.”

Warning of the use of these fairness creams in the long run, Dr. Vij says: “The obvious side-effect is thinning of the skin. Daily use of these creams leads to the skin losing its tightness and becoming thinner in return. Growth of acne is another harm that these creams cause to the skin.”

Elaborating further, he says, “Also, most fairness cream consumers are unaware of the photosensitive reaction which these creams cause. Due to this the more exposed one is to the sun, worse one’s skin condition becomes. This would mean anything from getting pink and red rashes — the degree of which would vary from person to person to sun burns, blisters, itchiness to burning sensation, each time the person steps out in the sun.

“Such a skin, that has become photosensitive, could also lead to one have problems if he went in for any kind of packs or massage treatments, for those oils or packs could further react on the skin.”

So how much time do these reactions take to show up? “It varies. For someone, it could react immediately, for another it could take months to show signs of a deteriorating skin,” he says.

In that case, the best way to acquire a fair skin is “by doing away with the pigmentation,” advises Dr. Vij. “Fairness creams only hide them, but that’s   definitely not a permanent treatment and that’s the reason why people are tempted to use them regularly. It’s important that people realize that bleach can never avoid photosensitivity, which is a big problem once one is struck with it.”

So as a piece of another advice, Dr. Vij adds: “All fairness creams are bad, period. Therefore, it’s advisable to keep away from them completely. However, to avoid tanning and dry skin, go for sunscreens, moisturizers and homemade packs as they are more effective and come with no side-effects whatsoever.”

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