The colour of our skin plays an important part in our life’s decisions, whether it is in terms of getting a marriage proposal or having a job opening. In India, we have often found that people always have one belief, the whiter the skin, the better. This mindset has created a culture where people who have dark skin are often bullied with respect to their skin tone. A blatant and clear-cut example of this type of discrimination can be found in manner in which there are limited colour choices available for women with darker skin tones and the overwhelming presence of skin whitening products. While many companies have now started changing their product line to make radiance boosting products, as compared to fairness enhancing merchandise, but the line between skin brightening and skin whitening seems to reduce by the day. Here, we have tried to ease the confusion that terms like brightening and lightening have in a simple manner.
What Is Skin Brightening?
Skin brightening, on the label of a beauty product means that the product has the efficiency to minimise skin discoloration, caused by excessive exposure to sun, acne marks or age spots. This definition can also include hyper pigmentation around the mouse, nose and other parts of your face. Brightening products increase the radiance or vibrancy of the skin, in the sense that if one’s skin is feeling particularly dry and dull, these products can impart a glow to it, while giving it a more plump and youthful appearance. The main point to be noted here, is that in no way does it change the amount of pigment in a skin cell, but rather works on the science that when skin is given enough active ingredients to maintain its hydration, repair the barrier and cleanse the face of dry skin cells, the face automatically appears brighter.
What Is Skin Lightening?
Skin lightening or whitening, on the other hand, works to reduce the amount of melanin produced in your body. It is done by bleaching one’s skin, and reducing the amount of melanin that the skin produces, which results in a whiter skin. There are a multitude of products being sold in the market today that encourage this bleaching of the skin and people buy these products without understanding that bleaching can have adverse effects on their skin, like causing chemical burns. In addition, some brands use an ingredient called hydroquinone, which is carcinogenic or a cancer-causing agent.
The difference between skin lightening and skin whitening
Understanding the difference between skin whitening and skin lightening, with reference to products, may be hard, since cosmetic companies have seemingly mushed these terms, easily interchanging them to suit their marketing strategies. But, speaking strictly in terms of what they should be, brightening products usually contain ingredients like AHAs and Vitamin C that work effectively to get rid of the layer of dead skin on the surface of the skin. Lightening products, on the other hand, contain Kojic Acid, Hydroquinone and Niacinamide, which work with the melanin component of the skin, resulting in a lighter skin texture. So, are they all bad? Not necessarily so. Similar to the way sunscreen works on the deeper layers of the skin cells to protect the skin from sun damage or acne creams works to eliminate acne scars, these products can work as well, if they are well researched, not harmful and scientifically proven, as well as recommended. It’s just that the conversation goes way beyond the efficacy of these products.
The idea of skin lightening is that it presents a false narrative that people have to be fairer in a society in order to be respected and that’s the root cause of the issue. Melanin is produced by the skin to prevent the skin from harmful rays of the sun and reducing the quantity of this pigment, can lead to a plethora of skin-related problems. Therefore, it’s not the colour of one’s skin, but the idea that lighter skin is good that needs to be erased from people’s minds. We simply need to accept the fact that we are all built differently and look differently, so there is no one ideal skin shade and that’s how it should be!
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