The Dark Side of Skin Lightening: A review of a Public Health Issue Affecting Dermatology
Keywords:Skin lightening, dermatology, cosmetic industry, health issues
Women in Pakistan are obsessed with the concept of glowing whitish complexion to get good marriage proposals, jobs and desired status in society. Most of these fairness creams contain very high amount of mercury and hydroquinone. These act by inhibiting the tyrosinase enzyme responsible for melanin production. The use of skin fairness products that frequently contain toxic ingredients is associated with significant adverse health side effects, resulting in immense challenges for dermatologists. Despite current regulations, lightening agents continue to dominate the cosmetic industry. In this review, our international team of dermatologists tackles the topic of skin lightening as a global public health issue, one of great concern for both women’s health and racial implications. We aim to inspire a global discourse on how modern dermatologists can utilize scientific evidence and cultural competency to serve and protect patients of diverse skin types and backgrounds. In doing so, we hope to promote healthy skin and inclusive concepts of beauty in our patients and society.