Yet ANOTHER reason you should avoid using skin lighteners

I never really understood the appeal of skin lighteners and I really didn't realize how prevalent they were until I lived for a semester abroad in the Dominican Republic. There I was, truly soaking in the sun and working up a tan that I have yet to recreate, while a bunch of my local dominicana friends were staying in the shade and running to La Sirena to buy these skin bleachers.

It left me scratching my head. Sure, I've had to endure some ignorant comments about my skin color--but I've taken comfort in the fact that anyone who has ever had anything negative to say about my beautiful brown skin has generally been a stupid racist. I even had a really, really bad experience while in the DR involving a bartender refusing to serve me because he felt I was too "negra" for his establishment. The self-hate is super depressing ya'll.


But there is no denying that the manufacturers of skin lightening and bleaching creams are encouraging us to hate ourselves. Instead of trying to change who we are, we should be embracing our diverse skin tones. We love our Latin culture and would never want to whitewash our music or cultural traditions so why do some find it acceptable to try to whitewash our skin? Plus, a lot of these creams and potions have seriously nasty stuff in them.

Back in 2010, the NY Times published a story about the horrible side effects of these creams, including thinning skin and easy bruising due to the fact that a ton of these creams are imported from abroad and contain steroids and gross chemicals.

Now, California health officials have announced a broad testing of these skin lightening creams to find out if they are contaminated with mercury. As in the highly toxic element also known to cause sensory disorientation, skin discoloration and skin shedding--like your face can literally fall off! All in the name of getting a shade or two lighter.

In the end, it's just sad to me that some women put having lighter skin at such a high premium. But, I guess that's what centuries of colonialism and racism will do.

What do you think about skin lighteners? Would you or have you ever used them?

Image via Parker Michael Knight/flickr

Topics: manchas (en la piel)  skin tone  skincare