Skin whitening cream - Is is healthy? Is it moral?

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  1. 2patricias profile image62
    2patriciasposted 14 years ago

    We use Google Ads on our website ( which are fed to the site according to contens.  We are happy with these ads at least 98% of the time, but we are concerned about ads for skin whitening cream.  As a result, we use the facility that allows us to block these ads.
    Our concerns are based on two things.  The first of these is moral/ethical.  It feels wrong to us to promote the idea that there is anything wrong with skin that is not snow white!  In fact, we think all colours of skin can be lovely.
    Our second worry is that these creams may have ill effects on skin if used over a period of time.
    We would really like to know what other Hubbers think about the ethics of skin whitening creams.
    We would also like to learn of any personal experience, or knowledge about the long term effects.

    1. quotations profile image91
      quotationsposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      I assume Michael Jackson must have used some product like this. And we all know how he ended up. So I vote block those ads from your site and maybe you can save someone from becoming a bleached circus freak.

    2. geetanjali profile image60
      geetanjaliposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Fairness creams sell in countries where people are predominantly dark skinned, but aspire towards lighter complexions. Their very basis is wrong. They are also very bad for the skin. I read that there can be no fairness cream without skin-bleaching agents such as hydroquinone, steroids, mercury salts, and a number of other ingredients, including bismuth subnitrate, hydrogen peroxide, magnesium peroxide and zinc peroxide -- all of which have negative effects. These range from irritation, allergies and sun sensitivity to even cancer!

      1. 2patricias profile image62
        2patriciasposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        That list of potential ingredients is startling!  I wonder if the labels on these products contain a warning about increased risk of sun burn?

        1. geetanjali profile image60
          geetanjaliposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          Most of them don't actually. And even if there is a warning, it's in very small print. I got my information about fairness creams here -- … ign=invite
          Take a look for more details.

          1. 2patricias profile image62
            2patriciasposted 14 years agoin reply to this

            Thank you for the web address.  I have had a look and it is all very interesting.

    3. Ivorwen profile image67
      Ivorwenposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      My mom used a whitening cream, specially designed to combat the effects of hormone induced color changes.  She actually tried several, before finding one that worked to rid her of the 'pregnancy mask' she had.  The cream she found also helped her skin in many other manners.

      For her, it was not a moral issue, but a desire for even colored skin tone.

    4. tksensei profile image58
      tksenseiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      File this under: Reading Way Too Much Into Something

  2. doncarlin profile image61
    doncarlinposted 14 years ago

    Not for it. Especially for the women - I like my women to have the dark mocha skin color. And the jet black hair.

  3. Mark Knowles profile image58
    Mark Knowlesposted 14 years ago

    I never even heard of this. Not sure why anyone would buy it either.

    But if people buy diet pills and penis enlargement creams and teeth whitener and hair implants and cosmetic surgery and butt implants and botox treatments and cosmetics tested on animals etc, I am sure they are dumb enough to buy that too smile

    1. doncarlin profile image61
      doncarlinposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      LOL, yeah good point! PT Barnum once said no one ever got poor by underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

      1. MrMarmalade profile image69
        MrMarmaladeposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        100% agreement with you Mark
        I do not know what the complaint is. There is no reason offered that it may harm you. Well no proof offered.
        Why the comment?

        1. 2patricias profile image62
          2patriciasposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          We asked the question about whether skin whitening products are harmful because we have no idea how they work.  Also, some of those we have seen advertised are made by companies we have not heard of previously.
          Of course, there could be no health hazards at all - but there must be Hubbers with more knowledge.  This is a very wide community.

    2. 2patricias profile image62
      2patriciasposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks for putting our concerns in context!  Of course when one looks at the whole cosmetics/ semi-pharaceutical market there are 100s, probably 1000s, of products that could be questioned.  It could be argued that the entire industry is based on vanity!

      That leads on to  deeper questions:  who drives the vanity?  And who profits?

  4. Marisa Wright profile image90
    Marisa Wrightposted 14 years ago

    I don't think we can judge whether they're moral or not, but I do know that some skin whitening creams can be very damaging to the skin.

    When I lived in Africa, they were marketed everywhere, and a lot of them were made by shonky companies and had very harsh bleaches in them.  The burns they left went deep into the dermis so women were left with nasty scars.

    Here in Australia they would never be approved for sale, and I imagine the same would apply in America and Europe.  The skin whitening lotions sold by the big cosmetic companies are fairly mild (and in fact, probably don't do much!)

    1. 2patricias profile image62
      2patriciasposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Thank you Marisa for the interesting information about Africa.  And it is reassuring that the products sold by the big companies are fairly mild.

    2. 2patricias profile image62
      2patriciasposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      It's quite frightening to think that people have skin burns after using suspect creams. We had heard of possible cases of skin cancer and situations where women were afraid to go outside as they were afraid of sunburn after using these creams.

  5. balletomanehk profile image74
    balletomanehkposted 14 years ago

    I don't know much about the ill effects of whitening facial creams -- I have heard about those bleaching ones that Marisa talked about, but not enough about the milder ones. All I can say is that they are extremely prevalent in Asia. The trend seemed to have started in Japan a decade or two ago and spread all over the place. Where I live -- Hong Kong -- almost all major cosmetic brands carry the whitening line. People are obsessed about not getting any freckles on their skin, and have an exaggerated imagination of the damage that the sun can do. Of course the ozone layer is getting thinner over our polluted city, but still, I'm talking about people who wear a visor that covers the whole face on a fairly cloudy day, and "vampires" who draw the curtains whenever there is a bit of sun breaking out. Luckily my husband, who is from the Nordics, prefer me with my freckles, so I get to save a lot of money, lol! Well, from a sociological point of view, I think whitening creams carry the connotation that being fair-skinned is preferable, which raises the issue of racial discrimination on a deep, subconscious level.

  6. 2patricias profile image62
    2patriciasposted 14 years ago

    Thank you for contributing such interesting information.  I had no idea skin whitening creams were so prevelant in other parts of the world!  The obsession with avoiding the sun could carry another health risk, namely calcium deficiency.  The body needs Vitamin D to absorb dietary calcium - and sunshine is the best source of Vitamin D.
    The strange thing is that in many parts of the Western World, many people feel compelled to develop a sun tan - sometimes with unhappy consquences.  I think the fashion is gradually changing, but for many years having very pale skin was considered unattractive!

    1. balletomanehk profile image74
      balletomanehkposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      You are absolutely right about that! There is a general ignorance about the benefits of the sun but nobody seems to care about that. And when people get bone diseases such as osteoporosis, they wouldn't stop to think that it has anything to do with the lack of exposure to the sun.

      I guess it is true that what we don't have, we crave, and what we have, we avoid! Because of the relative abundance of sunshine here, people take it for granted and want to go the other extreme of avoiding it. By contract, in parts of Europe and North America where the sun is not so abundant, for example, people tend to go to the extreme of getting sun tans artificially by visiting sun tan parlors or using sun tan lotions.

  7. VioletSun profile image77
    VioletSunposted 14 years ago

    For some reason, I think of skin whitening as being harsh as its actually bleaching the skin , but the bronzers which darken skin as being less harmless...  I use bronzers on occasion on my legs and a little on my face during the summer.

  8. Marisa Wright profile image90
    Marisa Wrightposted 14 years ago

    I agree with you that people underestimate the importance of sunlight, but you can understand their reaction in some countries.

    Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Australia.  You are more likely to get skin cancer than lung cancer, breast cancer, bowel cancer etc and it is just as likely to kill you.  So it's hardly surprising if some people react by shutting out the sun altogether!

    In recent years, we've seen schools insist on children wearing legionnaire-type hats (peaked caps with a long flap at the back) and long sleeves whenever they play outside.  Kids wear rash suits (like wetsuits but lycra instead of neoprene) when they go swimming.  And I can't remember the last time I saw a woman out with a stroller where I could actually see the baby - there always seems to be a blanket or coverlet thrown over the opening (I always think it must be like a sauna underneath...).

    I do think it has gone too far, because now we are starting to see, for the first time in generations, children presenting with symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency.  There must be a middle ground somewhere!

    1. profile image0
      derekcaulfieldposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      I agree with you bigtime, we need sunlight, just don't spend hours lying in the sun especially unprotected and you'll be alright

    2. 2patricias profile image62
      2patriciasposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Skin cancer is increasing in the United Kingdom, and some say this is linked to the increased number of foreign holidays.  One of us (2Patricias) is originally from the USA, and has had incidence of skin cancer in the family.  So we know that it a dreadful disease.
      If only everyone would accept the need for moderation!

      1. Marisa Wright profile image90
        Marisa Wrightposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        You're right, and the foreign holidays probably are to blame.  Malignant skin cancer is linked more to sunBURN than sunTAN, so it stands to reason that if crazy Brits get off the plane and straight on to the beach to bake to a crisp, they must be putting themselves at risk.  (BTW I can call them crazy Brits because I am one - a Brit, that is, or at least an ex-one).

  9. profile image0
    vivicaposted 14 years ago

    It is big in Asia! Almost everyone wants to be whiter. I have naturally fair skin and everyone comments on it but I honestly think that I am too ghastly. Moral wise, it is a tough question to answer as it depends on your cultural upbringing. I guess that unless the ads say anything about why being lighter is beneficial and cause the viewer to feel bad about herself, I'd say it is morally wrong. However, though, the arguement of the product maker is that these women want to be lighter and we are just giving them what they want (hence making money)

    Although, most ads that I've seen in Asian countries always suggests that this girl gets the guy she likes because he notices her as she turns lighter. That, I think, is lame and stupid and does not promote a healthy body image

    Skin bleaching is unhealthy as it causes damage to your skin and can cause severe allergic reaction. Many of these creams work but peeling away your outer skin surface.However, since skin colouration is influenced by the amount of melanin in your body, I don't think that this cream works in a long term and I believe that it can cause health issues.

    I am not sure what Michael Jackson takes but I heard that it is a combination of pills and bleaching cream. However, he always covers himself so I suspect that he might have rash caused by the cream?

  10. richgerman profile image59
    richgermanposted 14 years ago

    maybe the best thing that we should do is to be contented what the color we have i mean.  People has no contentment in life. black people like to be white and vice versa. the best thing is to be true to yourself and yeah i agree with mark other things that for enhancement is kindda not good too. their are some side effects for that as we grow old.

  11. Health Conscious profile image59
    Health Consciousposted 14 years ago

    I have never heard of these silly creams and am having a hard time understanding 2 things.

    1. How can anyone do that to themselves especially just to get a man.
    2.How can anyone live with themselves after selling these products especially to beautiful young women.

    But with further thought, most of us have been living many years, doing the same kind of damage, just at a much slower rate.  Almost every product you use that comes into contact with your body has been made with synthetic chemicals which bring harm both to the skin and when these synthetic compounds soak into the body. Look at labels, the shear volume over time is astounding, minuscule damage every time, never being allowed to heal.

    The last 5 years have brought a flood of research proving this.

    Some one mentioned the high instances of skin cancer in Australia and England, you are not alone. It is all over the world. Why dermatologist continue blaming this on the sun is beyond me. Several chemicals which are prevalent in skin care products including most sun screens have been shown to alter chemical make up when exposed to the sun becoming carcinogenic.

    This taken with other studies, have proven that proper nutrition can allow the body to gain and maintain optimal health. This should allow us to be comfortable about our health.

    We have learned so many great things about staying healthy and living longer, happier lives, why do we continue to allow the products we use to be so full of these chemicals.

    Sorry for the rant.  I just can't help it.

    About the initial question about blocking the ad. It is your hub - you are not beholden to anyone to alter your convictions.

    Last point - Income opportunity for you ladies with contacts in the areas of the world that use these fairness creams--- Get in touch with some of the companies that produce the organic based sun screens that use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide and get them to repackage as a rub on lightener==It will give them a white hue and then can be washed off. 

    Most of the good ones have botanicals which will actually help the skin.

  12. thranax profile image74
    thranaxposted 14 years ago

    I think everyone should stay the color they are. But if someone who is light colored wants to get a tan the normal way thats fine smile

  13. 2patricias profile image62
    2patriciasposted 14 years ago

    Thanks for your comments.  Regarding chemicals in body care products and cosmetics, it is interesting that a lot more organic/herbal (etc) products are now available.  Possibly this reflects a growing interest in health and the environment.

    On the subject of natural suntans, we must stress that moderation in all things includes moderation in the sun - a little goes a long way.  But some is a needed for optimum health.

  14. PayPerClickPlay profile image39
    PayPerClickPlayposted 14 years ago


    And witnesses just reported Micheal Jackson was spotted in Vegas and they said his skin was peeling off, and he obviously overdosed on skin lighteners?

    Wealth Without Health is Worthless

    1. 2patricias profile image62
      2patriciasposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Good quote!  And the reference to Michael Jackson is sobering.

  15. patnamohan profile image58
    patnamohanposted 14 years ago

    Hey, I like dark complexion lady..........white No..........No..........Be dark attracts me

  16. profile image0
    daflaposted 14 years ago

    You can block these ads.  There is a filter that you can use on Google Ads to block unwanted advertisers.

  17. mstuckey07 profile image60
    mstuckey07posted 13 years ago

    Skin whitening creams are so prevalent in my country. A friend of mine recently visited such country and was shocked that every product she saw in the grocery store from shampoo, soap, lotions, skin cleansing creams, have skin whitening ingredient.  The main ingredient which I found out is gluthathione which when applied to any skin topically produces a bleaching effect on the skin melanin.  I think that from my countrymen's perspective  having a whiter skin is albeit the same as belonging to a higher social caste.  while we out here in the United States appreciates a browner or darker skin,. I do not know why people wants what is not naturally given to them.

    1. profile image49
      ladyvenusposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Well have you noticed M. Jackson he more than white now.

  18. profile image48
    KoalaDummyposted 13 years ago

    thats dumb

  19. Lena M. profile image60
    Lena M.posted 13 years ago

    Wow, after reading this thread I've learned a lot.

    I went to China last summer and whitening sunscreen was everywhere. Of course, the "whitening" part was probably there all for commercial appeal.

    I don't think whitening products in that sense are really all that bad. It's basically just the reverse of the popular tanned look in Canada and the United States.

    I thought MJ was very extreme, and I suppose he is, but I didn't know people in other parts of the world did that kind of stuff too. Bleaching your skin to a distinguishable degree is ... wow. It's not healthy, but people can do what they want to their skin if they want to, unless it's considerably damaging/deadly. If people do that because they aren't comfortable with their skin color, well, that's unfortunate. But not allowing that freedom of ... applying questionable creams to their skin ... that shouldn't be.

    1. profile image49
      ladyvenusposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      That's the irony whites wants tan. Black and brown like to be whiten grrrrr. Just like curly wants to be straight and straight to be curly. why not accept our true colors hehe

    2. profile image49
      ladyvenusposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Chinese people are already yellow they don't need that cream anymore hehe.

  20. LondonGirl profile image80
    LondonGirlposted 13 years ago

    I'm very fair-skinned, and so I have to be extra careful in the sun. Even in the UK, I burn easily, and I'm not worried about vitamin D, I get enough of it, I'm sure.

    I don't use fake tan or anything, I'm happy with very pale skin, and straight hair, and can't be arsed to change either!

  21. profile image49
    getyourgirlfbackposted 13 years ago

    They did wonders for Michael Jackson!

  22. profile image50
    ethan1066posted 12 years ago

    Well, these whitening cream contains chemicals like sulphur in them which can create skin cancer. I am totally against these fairness creams..

  23. CASE1WORKER profile image65
    CASE1WORKERposted 12 years ago

    Not sure re the chemicals bit but I can underszstand people using them. I have  a condition which means that areas of my skin have no pigment and dont tan! ( we only noticed it when I lived abroad) If you are from asian or black origin with the same condition it must be a nightmare. My blotches are there if you look whilst if I had dark skin it would be like a patchwork effect which would be difficult to cope with.

  24. kephrira profile image59
    kephriraposted 12 years ago

    If you have a problem with skin whitening cream, do you also have a problem with fake tan, or even worse - tanning booths which are a known cause of skin cancer?

    They are both exactly the same, morally.

    I have heard people complaining about these before, and it seemed like they were accusing dark skinned people of being racist against themselves! Seems a bit ridiculous to me. Just because they want whiter skin doesn't mean they have a problem, anymore than if people want a tan.


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