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Skin lightening, a trend gaining popularity in America, is recently under scrutiny for the potential health risks posed by the use of such products. Northwestern University’s research, recently published in the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, revealed a significant knowledge gap among users about these potential hazards.

Skin Lightening and its Appeal

Often marketed as whitening or bleaching solutions, skin lightening products are predominantly targeted at women. These products promise an enhanced aesthetic appeal and social standing, drawing many into regular usage. Northwestern University’s research surveyed a large number of respondents, a majority of whom were Black women. Many reported using these products despite not being fully aware of their potential side effects.

Potential Health Risks of Skin Lightening Products

One of the notable concerns pointed out by the research is the presence of harmful ingredients in skin lightening products. Hydroquinone, known to cause skin rashes, swelling, and discoloration, is one such ingredient commonly found in these products. The research found that a substantial number of users were unaware of the presence of such ingredients in the products they used.

Whitening Products

Why Do People Use Skin Lightening Products?

Dr. Roopal Kundu, the lead author of the study and director of the Northwestern Medicine Center for Ethnic Skin and Hair, revealed that motivations behind the use of these products vary widely. Some people use these products to address specific medical dermatological conditions or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentations. In contrast, others use them influenced by the societal constructs of beauty favoring lighter skin.

The Influence of Colorism

Colorism, a bias favoring lighter skin, emerges as a significant factor influencing the use of skin lightening products. This bias is not confined to the Black community in America. It is a global issue, influencing individuals across different nationalities and ethnicities. The effects of colorism extend to various facets of life, from personal interactions to professional opportunities.

The study underscores the critical need for public education regarding the potential health risks of skin lightening products. Concurrently, it calls for a broader dialogue about colorism and the societal constructs of beauty. The desire for lighter skin, driven by societal norms and colorism, necessitates a conversation about these deeply rooted issues and the health risks associated with achieving such beauty standards.

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