Beauty blogger warns of skin lightening risks

According to a 2014 YouGov survey, 74% of people believe that celebrity culture has a negative impact on young people; impacting body image and self-esteem. One emerging trend on the rise is black celebrities with increasingly lighter skin in the name of fashion and beauty. This is leading to more people trying and using skin lightening products without realising the potential risks.

Beauty blogger Wande Alugo, who set up the popular WandesWorld.com blog, highlighted the scale of interest in this issue with her YouTube video focusing on skin lightening which has attracted more than half a million views. She tells us why she used skin lightening products when she was younger – and what led her to stop.

“As a fresh-faced 13 year old I started dabbling with skin lightening products - desperate to fit in and look like the female models and celebrities featured in my favourite glossy magazines. As I flicked through I discovered there was no one that looked like me, and being a teenager I just wanted to be like everyone else and feel accepted.

I’m ashamed to say I hated my dark skin and turned to skin bleaching products to raise my self-esteem. It wasn’t until I did some research and found out that chemicals – such as hydroquinone - in some lightening products were really harsh and could lead to the development of cancer that I stopped using them.

I now think it’s crazy that people are prepared to risk their lives just to have a lighter complexion, I can’t think of anything worse than suffering from skin cancer when you know it is self-inflicted and could have prevented it.

Many users of these products don’t realise that they can have the exact opposite effect on the skin and cause even darker patches to appear, as well as prematurely aging the skin.

The best thing I ever did was go and see a reputable dermatologist, it doesn’t cost a fortune and they really helped to save my skin – it is so much healthier and I understand the type of skin I have and which products I should be using.

Those of us with black skin tend to suffer with hyper pigmentation and it’s important to know there are many lightening creams that are safe to use and which help change the skin tone.

Not all skin lightening products are bad, there are a whole range of products that are designed to help and look after the skin, but I would recommend getting professional advice on which ones would be best for you and ensure you buy via a dermatologist or reputable company.

We should all be proud of who we are, whatever our skin colour. Dare to be different.”

Hydroquinone facts:

  • The chemical is banned from use in cosmetic skin lighteners in the UK
  • It inhibits the production of the pigment melanin which gives skin its colour.
  • However melanin is vital to protect the skin against UV radiation so your body will over compensate by producing more melanin.
  • This results in a darker patchier appearance developing
  • It damages the elastin strands in skin causes premature ageing and weakening of the skin
  • It can cause neuropathy, a disease of the nervous system
  • It can damage your liver
  • It increases the risk of the development of skin cancer from exposure to UV radiation