The Dangers of Skin Lightening
By Funmi Azike
Genes, stress, lifestyle, food habits, and environmental pollution are well known factors that predispose us to a number of health conditions including cancer. Interestingly, one commonly overlooked factor, is the popular cosmetic practice of skin lightening. Aside from the skin’s ability to absorb the melanin-inhibiting chemicals which can overtime, contribute to a build-up of toxic substances in the body, lightening/whitening/bleaching/fade/brightening products, disrupt its natural barrier functions. This makes the skin susceptible to infections, diseases, sun damage and cancer.
An easily noticeable side-effect is exogenous ochronosis, a condition which causes parts of the skin to turn varying shades of brown/purple/blue. Thin skin, spots, and giant stretch-marks are other common side effects associated with the use of skin lightening products/treatments.
Please, it is not too late to stop now. Bothered about a darker complexion? Health concerns should be your priority. In my opinion, what makes the skin beautiful is not just the colour, but a combination of clarity, texture and glow. There are safe ways to achieve this without endangering your life.
- Protect your skin. Instead of spending tons of money buying skin lightening products, do make conscious efforts to avoid factors that cause your skin to get excessively dark especially prolonged exposure to the sun. Include the use of sunscreen/sun-block to your beauty regime.
- Follow a consistent beauty regime which should include proper cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing. You can seek professional guidance on the right products for your skin type.
- Seek professional help for skin conditions including hypo/hyper-pigmentation, sunburns, eczema, rash, acne, spots, scars and melasma (pregnancy/childbirth complexion problems). The indiscriminate use of steroid medications (commonly available in tubes) might provide temporary relief but eventually leave you with far more damaging and traumatising skin problems.
- Improve your complexion by drinking enough water as it helps to hydrate your skin and keep it blemish free. It is important to avoid excessive intake of heavy and oily foods.
- Allow your skin heal itself. For example, if your complexion gets dull from exposure to the sun or lack of sleep; do not rush to start on a skin lightening product. If you follow a proper skincare regimen, your skin should recover after a while.
- Get professional facial treatments regularly to help you achieve a flawless complexion.
- Eat right. There is no particular food that instantly lightens the skin but balanced diet is a must for a healthy complexion. Incorporate more cereals, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet.
- You must learn to love yourself enough to appreciate your unique colour. You must love your body enough to want what is best for it all times. When you begin to care about yourself, you will find it easier to make the necessary adjustments and sacrifices you require to stay beautiful and healthy.
If you are already experiencing some of the side effects of skin-lightening, feel free to send me a message for a proper consultation. If you begin now, you will not only be repairing the physical damage already done but likely internal ones too. Till next week, stay confident & beautiful.