skin whitening

Toxins in Skin-Lightening Products: Are we aware?

The skincare industry is expanding rapidly day by day. It is over $500 billion in sales in 2019. But it is largely unregulated in many countries. Females especially in the South Asian region are obsessed with fair skin. Also, they often use harmful products to be fairer that often leads to burn their skin or skin cancer. As a result, consumers buy skin-lightening products mixed with toxins without even knowing the consequences. How does that affect consumers?


Before looking for the answer to this question, another question arises, why do people think that fair means beautiful?

Credits: Design-tuts

How did the prejudice against the dark spread?

There are some subtle hints in history. That stimulates the idea of having fair skin is superior. In the history of the South Asian region particularly India, the Aryans were the conquerors of the dark-skinned Dravidians. The subcontinent’s long history of being oppressed by light-skinned oppressors accumulates the thought more.

Credits: Blackpast

In the 18th century, the Europeans began insisting that skin color is the indicator of intelligence and power to justify their torture of Africans.

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Even in mythology, dark-skinned characters are portrayed as demons mostly. It seems that the black competition to be fair has been going on for many years.

And the influence continues…..

Nowadays, when you turn on the TV, you see advertisements for skin-lightening creams. Our society presents it in such a way that dark-skinned girls have no chance of success in life because of their skin complexion. As if dark means ugly. As if they are not worthy of love. Even according to a subcontinental custom dark girls are to pay more dowry in marriage.

Credits: Homegrown

Also, the entertainment industries, all over the world tend to promote the same theory indirectly. There is a subtle relation between the entertainment industry and beauty products. Celebrities, irrespective of their gender, preferred to be light-skinned. Hence, general people grow extreme desirability of having fair skin in their minds. Therefore, they buy skin-lightening creams without knowing the side effects.

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European Union bans nearly 1328 chemicals from being used in skincare products. These include makeup, lotions, serums, creams, etc.   On contrary, people tend to overlook the restrictions as well as side effects. But is it safe for you?

Credits: New Women India

Have you ever looked at the label of beauty products before buying? You will see a list of ingredients that you can’t even pronounce! These are chemicals, some of them are toxins as well. 

Harmful Toxins in Whitening products 

Approximately 25% of African people use whitening skincare products regularly. On the other hand, nearly 40% of Asian people use these on regular basis. Among the South Asian region, 90% of Indian people think of whitening products as the necessity of their skin. 

Seems like Indians have obsession for fairness! Again, is it safe to use regularly?

Let’s consider from a different point of view.

Credits; Inhabitat

A prolonged intake of harmful chemical foods increases our health risks. So before we buy food we check whether it contains harmful chemicals. But, the skin is the largest organ in our body. But do we check whether it is harmful before buying skin-lightening cream?

Here are some harmful toxins in whitening products.


  • Skin can absorb a certain amount of mercury. But the inorganic salt of mercury is harmful to the skin. 
  • To your knowledge, according to the Food and Drug Administration of the USA, the safe limit of mercury in beauty products is 1 ppm only. 
  • The use of a higher amount of mercury can lead to mercury poisoning in your skin. This will result in an allergic reaction or skin irritation.
Credits: Google Site
  • It can also cause gastric irritation.
  • Long-term use of mercury can contribute to renal or kidney failure.


It is a skin bleaching agent. It removes darker patches. Melanin is responsible for your skin color. It reduces melanin production. But, again, a higher percentage in your beauty creams can often cause-

  • Skin burning sensation
  • It reduces skin thickness
  • Prolonged intake of it can dislocate the structure of the skin layer
  • Dryness & redness
  • Inflammatory reaction 
  • Organ failure


Parabens are used as preservatives in both beauty and makeup products. Scientists have found that long-term use of parabens in your daily skincare routine can cause breast cancer as well as skin cancer. Also, statistics said nearly 95% of patients with breast cancer have an excessive amount of parabens in their bodies. 

Credits: Made Safe



  • It is a toxin that helps to absorb the product to your skin faster than any natural product.
  • It is declared as a human carcinogen. But, do you know what human carcinogen is? It is the elements that are responsible for causing cancer in the human body.

Artificial Fragrances

You often love to buy skincare products with fragrances. Skin whitening creams and lotions contain chemical fragrances. But, it can be filled with hundreds of chemicals, some of them may be toxins as well. 

Credits: Pinterest

Artificial fragrances may cause

  • Migraine headaches
  • Asthma or other respiratory problems

Some Quick Tips

  • Skin creams mostly anti-aging and skin-lightening creams that contain mercury and hydroquinone. Check the percentage of these two ingredients before buying.
  • Use paraben-free skincare & makeup products.
  • Avoid beauty products with chemical fragrances. Because they often contain toxins in the name of chemicals!
  • Try to read the full ingredients list before buying any new skin-lightening cream. Also, try to figure out if there is any hidden toxin present in the product.
  • You can consult a certified dermatologist before start using a beauty product.
Credits: Indian Makeup And Beauty Blog

Harmful chemicals in skin-lightening creams have been banned in many parts of the world. But all these harmful products are available online. Are you pushing yourself to the brink of death by whitening your skin?