Dangerous Use of Skin Whitening Products on Rise

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.

Athlete Sammy Sosa’s skin is visibly whiter after his use of ‘skin softening’ products.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