For decades American women of Hispanic and African descent have used skin-lightening creams to achieve lighter skin, the prevailing standard of beauty. In the latter part of the 21st century, use declined. In the same way that many African American women — WNBC’s news anchor Sue Simmons, for example — are found wearing Afros in their publicity shots or old photos, many women stopped bleaching their skin.
Hyprogel, made in Germany, contains the powerful steroid clobetasol propionate and includes a warning to use only as directed by a doctor. Fair & White, from France, normally contains no steroids, but counterfeit versions with undisclosed ingredients have turned up in stores. NYTimes
Some skin-lightening products contain mercury. Even if governments try to control the distribution of skin-lightening creams, the Internet has made them available in prescription-strength doses. Demand is high and use is rising.
While no large-scale research has been done on this project, doctors are very concerned. via NYTimes
Photo: Tim Sharp/Associated Press (left); Eric Jamison/Associated Press