Skin Bleaching Practices: Products, Mechanisms and Effects
Asian Journal of Research in Dermatological Science,
Skin bleaching is the use of chemical substances to lighten the colour of the skin. Despite various publications and documentaries on the harmful effects of skin bleaching, it is still becoming increasingly common especially among the black skin coloured individuals. A lighter skin has been perceived to be synonymous with beauty. Most skin lightening products are known to act on different pathways of melanin biosynthesis. The major lightening products used include hydroquinone, mercury and topical steroids which come as soaps, body wash, gels and creams. Skin lightening can cause a myriad of cutaneous and systemic adverse effects and so continuous public health awareness to sensitize individuals on the dangers of skin bleaching and proper regulations by the Government and relevant authorities must be put in place.
- Skin bleaching
- skin lightening
- cutaneous; systemic
- adverse effects
- public health.
How to Cite
Yusuf MA, Mahmoud ND, Rirash FR, Stoff BK, Liu Y, McMichael JR. Skin lightening practices, beliefs, and self-reported adverse effects among female health science students in Borama, Somaliland: A cross-sectional survey. Int J Women’s Dermatology. 2019;5(5).
Olumide Yetunde Mercy. The skin bleaching culture in Nigeria. Part 1: History. Niger J Dermatology. 2018; 8(2):19–31.
Exposure to Mercury: A Major Public Health Concern. World Heal Organ ( Prev Dis through Heal Environ [Internet]; 2007.
[cited 2020 Oct 25];
Agorku ES, Kwaansa-Ansah EE, Voegborlo RB, Amegbletor P, Opoku F. Mercury and hydroquinone content of skin toning creams and cosmetic soaps, and the potential risks to the health of Ghanaian women. Springerplus. 2016; 5(1):319.
Couteau C, Coiffard L. Overview of skin whitening agents: Drugs and Cosmetic Products. Cosmetics. 2016 Jul 25;3(3):27.
Sarkar R, Arora P, Garg Kv. Cosmeceuticals for hyperpigmentation: What is available? J Cutan Aesthet Surg [Internet]. 2013;6(1):4.
Apuke OD. Why Do Women Bleach? Understanding the rationale behind skin bleaching and the influence of media in promoting skin bleaching: A narrative review. Glob Media J [Internet]. 2018;16(30):1–4.
Ajose FOA. Consequences of skin bleaching in Nigerian men and women. Int J Dermatol. 2005;44(s1):41–3.
Olumide YM, Akinkugbe AO, Altraide D, Mohammed T, Ahamefule N, Ayanlowo S et al. Complications of chronic use of skin lightening cosmetics. Int J Dermatol. 2008;47(4).
Slominski A, Tobin DJ, Shibahara S, Wortsman J. Melanin pigmentation in mammalian skin and its hormonal regulation. Physiological Reviews. 2004;84.
Serre C, Busuttil V, Botto JM. Intrinsic and extrinsic regulation of human skin melanogenesis and pigmentation. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2018;40.
Videira IF dos S, Moura DFL, Magina S. Mechanisms regulating melanogenesis*. An Bras Dermatol [Internet]. 2013;88(1):76–83.
Gillbro JM, Olsson MJ. The melanogenesis and mechanisms of skin-lightening agents - existing and new approaches. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2011;33(3):210–21.
Millington GWM. Proopiomelanocortin (POMC): The cutaneous roles of its melanocortin products and receptors. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology. 2006;31.
Skin Lightening Products Market Size, Share and trends analysis report by product (Cream, cleanser, mask), by nature (Synthetic, natural, organic), by region, and Segment Forecasts, 2019 - 2025. Gd view Res [Internet]; 2019.
[cited 2020 Sep 12];
Davids LM, van Wyk J, Khumalo NP, Jablonski NG. The phenomenon of skin lightening: Is it right to be light? S Afr J Sci [Internet]. 2016;112(11/12).
Ogunbiyi A. Hazards of skin lightening agents in West Africa. Kosmet Medizin. 2009;30(5):176–82.
Al-Saleh I, Elkhatib R, Al-Rouqi R, Al-Enazi S, Shinwari N. The dangers of skin-lightening creams. Toxicol Environ Chem; 2012.
Jacobs M, Levine S, Abney K, Davids L. Fifty shades of African lightness: A bio-psychosocial review of the global phenomenon of skin lightening practices. J Public Health Africa. 2016;7(2).
Liu Marian. Skin whiteners are still in demand, despite health concerns. CNN Heal [Internet]. International; 2018.
[cited 2020 Sep 22];
Mulekar S, Mhatre M, Mulekar S. Depigmentation Therapies in Vitiligo. Open Access Books [Internet]. 2019;1.
[cited 2020 Nov 27];
Coondoo A, Phiske M, Verma S, Lahiri K. Side-effects of topical steroids: A long overdue revisit. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2014;5(4):416.
Darj E, Infanti JJ, Ahlberg BM, Okumu J. The fairer the better? Use of potentially toxic skin bleaching products. Afr Health Sci [Internet]. 2015;15(4):1074–80.
Hydroquinone / published under the joint sponsorship of the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Labour Organisation, and the World Health Organization. World Heal Organ Int Program Chem Saf [Internet]. 1994;178.
[cited 2020 Oct 23];
Rozen JN, Alseddeeqi E, Rivera J. Cosmetic agents causing endocrinopathy in an African immigrant. Can Fam Physician. 2012;58(2).
Sonthalia S, Daulatabad D, Sarkar R. Glutathione as a skin whitening agent: Facts, myths, evidence and controversies. Indian J Dermatology, Venereol Leprol. 2016;82(3):262.
Arbutin. MD Edge Dermatology [Internet].
[.cited 2020 Oct 18];
Bhattar P, Zawar V, Godse K, Patil S, Nadkarni N, Gautam M. Exogenous Ochronosis. Indian J Dermatol. 2015 Nov 1;60(6):537–43.
Abstract View: 617 times
PDF Download: 553 times