Someone who has traveled to a couple countries throughout Asia, I have been able to witness the Asian skin whitening craze first hand.
Throughout many Asian countries, light skin is highly prized.
Having a lighter complexion is considered more attractive, especially in South East Asian countries.
In the already light skinned people of North and East Asia, having very clear white skin is a sign of glamor and wealth.
Deep Rooted Cultural Influences
The Asian skin whitening craze has deep cultural roots going back centuries.
Li Yanbing, vice-secretary general of the Chamber of Beauty Culture and Cosmetics of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce gave an interview with China Daily back in 2012 that shed some light on how deep rooted this craze is.
He mentioned that skin whitening in modern day China goes back to ancient times. And he went on to mention an ancient Chinese saying that has passed through the ages; “One white covers up one hundred ugliness.”
Japan has a similar saying too; “white skin covers the seven flaws. This means that a light-skinned woman is pretty even if her features are not attractive.
Many Asians associate darker complexion with working on a farm in the hot sun or some other so-called menial job. Lighter complexion on the other hand is associated with high status positions and cultural refinement.
Western media influences in Asia also play a big role in purveying the idea that lighter skin is something to be prized. Consequently, there has been a growing demand for skin lightening treatments.
And it is not just facial lightening creams that are in demand either. Whole body lightening creams are also soaring in popularity.
Asian Skin Whitening – A Lucrative Market
The Asian skin whitening industry is said to be worth in excess of US$13 billion. Japan represents the largest market globally while China (around US 3 billion) and India (around US 400 million) are fueling the huge growth in the industry.
India’s obsession with light complexion has seen its skin lightening market grow by double digit rates yearly. Its market accounts for almost 50% of the overall skin care market.
Elsewhere in Asia, a survey conducted by the UK-based market research firm Synovate found that 40% of women in Hong Kong SAR, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan use skin lightening lotions.
Effective Herbal Based Skin Lightening Cream For Asian Skin
So What’s Wrong In Wanting Lighter Skin? To each his/her own. But, the skin lightening industry is not without its detractors.
Critics accuse the industry of pandering to stereotypes about race and social class. They also argue that the industry promotes a distorted view of beauty and doesn’t do enough to educate the public on the potential side effects of whiteners.
And the potential for side effects is very real. Japanese Kanebo-brand skin lightener was recently recalled when users experienced an outbreak of white blotches on their skins.
Side effects or not, in India, the search for lighter skin has expanded into a direction that many detractors consider to be sordid. Now, there is a vaginal bleaching product called Clean And Dry Intimate.
The commercial for this product shows a couple sitting in their home; the husband casually reading a newspaper while the wife pouts to herself because, obviously, her man is ignoring her due to her dark-colored private parts.
Fortunately, she gets a hold of Clean and Dry, which makes her privates a couple shades lighter. Her husband is happy again. Whew! Divorce no longer on the cards. Wonder why he married the woman in the first place.
At any rate, the tagline of the ad read: “Life for women will now be fresher, cleaner and more importantly, fairer and more intimate.”
Those in India in favor of skin lightening argue that critics are being hypocritical when they speak out against the industry.
Alyque Padasee, director of the Clean and Dry advertisement said, “Lipstick is used to make your lips redder, fairness cream is used to make you fairer – so what’s the problem?”
While the debate rages on the, the centuries-old belief that ‘fairer is better’ shows little sign of waning.
From The Old To The New
In Asia in particular, there were many old fashioned treatments used to lighten skin.
In China, wealthy women used to eat crushed pearls. In Korea during the Koryo dynasty, children of wealthy families used peach floral water to wash their faces. In India, women would bathe in turmeric.
Now in the modern era, cosmetics that inhibit the production of melanin are the most popular treatments.
There are many ingredients that can be found in those treatments. Arbutin, kojic acid and Vitamin C derivatives can be found in many of these treatments.
Many treatments now claim not only to make your skin fairer but also claim to moisturize skin and fight aging.