‘Fair’y Tales – A Scientific Take
One of my pals, a doctor by profession, quips that there are two big fat lies in the medical field. The first being the promise on re-growth of fallen hairs and the next being the ones on skin lightening.
Everyone’s skin tone depends on the geographical location and exposure to sunlight as pointed out in the introductory article of this series. A pigment called ‘Melanin’ gives the skin its colour. The lesser the melanin content, the lighter is one’s skin. Naturally people living in the tropical regions are dark skinned and people living in colder climate have lighter skin colour. This design is nature’s wonder to protect us from sun rays.
Underneath our skin is the epidermis, the outer most layer of the skin. Just after these skin cells lies the melanin producing cells called Melanocytes. These cells produce melanin according to the need. Melanin protects the skin from harmful UV radiations of the sun.
Skin lightening, scientifically speaking, tries to lock the secretion of one’s skin artificially. This could be possible only by using bleaching agents. One of the most commonly used bleaching agents is Hydroquinone. The way it works is given in the diagram given below. This may sound good. But it comes with uninvited side effects. Such bleaching agents react with melanin and control their secretion. This certainly disrupts the natural balance. The following map helps us in understanding the skin tone distribution across the world.
No skin lightening cream in the market is capacious to make your skin actually lighter. All it can do is to make the secreted melanin to spread evenly across the skin. This might look as if the skin tone has improved. On the other hands bleaching agents like Hydroquinone on continuous usage may result in rashes and much more potentially harmful side effects depending on your skin’s sensitivity. Hydroquinone was banned in UK from 2002. Unlike the pharmaceutical products it is not necessary for the skin lightening products to prove their efficiency clinically, by law. This is because they only come under cosmetics category.
Some products claim to have clinically proven themselves. Of course, that’s true. But most of their tests are carried out in winter seasons when the possibility of exposure to sun is at its least. Also such products are tested in Europe or other colder parts of the globe, which for sure will not provide the same result in topical countries. One thing is sure. Women are easily vulnerable. (See the quote by the side). All the market games are played psychologically upon women.
Also the quote by the most famous yesteryear model Cindy Crawford comes as an eye opener crushing the illusion over the myth created around beauty. Human beings are most beautiful in the way they are because beauty is in the eyes of the person who sees. You are the most beautiful woman/man in this world, minus your make up itself. Because you are ‘ truely you’ without your make up.