Promoting natural skin care and cosmetic products, Herbally Radiant has been supporting celebrities, social activists and others who oppose skin whitening chemicals at the cost of skin’s health. Asian and African consumers are being tapped by cosmetic players, questionably promising fair skin with strong pharma-based formulations.
The latest campaign by Indian herbal skin brand “Banjara” to reject the dominant domestic narrative that considers darker skin to be socially less liked, deserves support. Its MD, Ramesh rightly remarked that “focus of skin products should be on healthy skin and not skin whitening.”
Not long ago, well known Bollywood actresses Bipasha Basu, Freida, Priyanka Chopra, Nandita Das and others strongly opposed the marketing of ‘fairness’ creams. Aishwarya Rai was furious when her photo on the cover of Elle was photo-shopped to make it look whitened; she threatened to sue the magazine.
Herbally Radiant has highlighted the health risks from the whitening creams being sold in the market. These are dangerous cocktail of compounds like steroids, hydroquinone, and tretinoin; the long term use of which can lead to lethal health concerns like permanent pigmentation, skin cancer, liver damage, mercury poisoning and other disorders. The ingredients in the formulations of these blitz products are shrouded in mystery, and awareness of their hazardous effects is low. While the stigma and the stereotypes they promote is a matter of concern, they are guilty of causing irreparable damage to the skin.
Complaints of side effects from such formulations have been received frequently, especially among women in the age group of 20-30. Dermatologists have warned that nearly 30 per cent long term users report adverse effects after continued use of various fairness creams.
The so-called skin lightening creams contain mainly two chemicals, hydroquinone or mercury. Long term users report a difficult-to-treat condition called refractory pigmentation. Lightening creams reduce the amount of melanin in the skin. Melanin is the pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their color. Dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin compared to light/fair-skinned people. Prolonged use of the fairness creams contributes to thinning of skin, premature aging signs and might also cause untreatable skin discoloration (achronosis).