Let’s Embrace Our Natural Skin Colours & Forget About Whitening Beauty Products

During my childhood days, I used to envy friends who have fairer skin than I do and how my brother was blessed with the ‘good genes’ from my Filipino mother. On the other hand, I inherited the Indian look from my dad. Well, you know what I mean — It’s hair everywhere.

At times, I tend to feel ugly because I was dark, as having a darker complexion equals to being unattractive. As a result, I spent my teen years using products that promote ‘whitening’, from facial cleansers to moisturisers. In fact, I even used a lighter shade of compact powder to elevate the colour of my skin.

Thankfully now, I’ve grown to embrace and love my skin tone because I understand that it ultimately represents who I am. However, I can’t help to wonder, how many of you out there are still eager to ‘bleach’ your skin?

Why are Asians so obsessed with having fair skin?

Having fair skin has become a beauty standard in Asia, where it is pretty common for people to go as far as to spend thousands of ringgits for whitening beauty treatments. This includes unreliable low-grade products and illegal Vitamin C injections that promise fast results.

The thing is, a lot of people tend to follow Western beauty ideals, and the obsession is so extreme that even the Ministry of Health Malaysia has highlighted on this issue. 

© Irina Bogolapova | Dreamstime.com

Whitening beauty products could be toxic

What many don’t know is that bleaching creams often contain steroids that may cause the skin layer to become thin. Meanwhile, some products use mercury which could be carcinogenic (in other words, could cause cancer).

Another method commonly used to whiten the skin is via injectable products, such as the viral Vitamin C injection that contains glutathione. Doctors said the abuse of glutathione, commonly prescribed to cancer patients to help them cope with the side effects of chemotherapy, has been linked to several fatal skin disorders, as well as cause the liver to malfunction. 

Hospital Kuala Lumpur dermatologist Dr Azura Mohd Affandi also cautioned against using the chemical, as improper and unsafe injection practices can lead to communicable diseases. “Those who administer these injections could be beauticians who are not trained in medical practice. Worse still, the equipment used may not even be properly sterilised and can cause bacterial infections, hepatitis and even HIV.”

She added that another major concern with the haphazard administration of glutathione into the body via injections is the creation of air embolism, where air bubbles enter the veins or arteries, causing a blockage that leads to shortness of breath, or worse, death.

With that being said, perhaps we should all learn to embrace our natural skin colours and focus on “bleaching” our personalities instead. It’s what’s inside that matters, because even if you have the fairest skin like Snow White, you may still appear unattractive when you have an ugly heart.

‘Hitam tapi manis’

This is a Malay term that Malaysians love to use, which literally means dark but sweet. Think about it, when was the last time you heard someone screaming for vanilla cake? When you’re in love or heartbroken, it’s always chocolate that people crave for.

No Asian flush

You never have to worry about people wondering if you have had too much to drink because your face doesn’t go red after consuming one or two glasses of alcohol. True story.

You’re naturally tanned

Forget going sunbathing or spending $$$ on tanning treatments, because you’re already tanned enough. What’s more, inflamed sunburns on exposure to sunlight has never been an issue for you.

Less likely to get sunburned 

Dark skin is naturally protected from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, due to the high concentration of melanin. For those who didn’t already know, melanin acts as a natural defence against UV rays. Hence, more melanin produced will prevent harmful radiation from entering your skin.

Wrinkles develop slower 

Over time, skin ages and will lose its youthful appearance due to photoaging. It refers to skin damage caused by prolonged sun exposure, specifically UVA and UVB rays, and can lead to skin cancers. Lucky for dark-skinned peeps, you are less likely to experience this due to the natural sun protection, leaving your dark skin with less wrinkles and look smoother, even when exposed to the same amount of sunlight.

This includes the appearance of fine lines, deep wrinkles, broken blood vessels on the nose and cheeks, along with freckles, age spots, and rough scaly spots. On the other hand, individuals with fairer complexion who are constantly exposed to the sun might develop keratosis in the long run.

You are beautiful, no matter what colour you are

It sure doesn’t matter whether you’re brown, yellow, white, black, fair or dark. It’s the inside that counts and as long as you stay true to yourself, you are beautiful. Remember, beauty comes in all colours and sizes.