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Skin bleaching products make their way to urban cities in Los Angeles


In 1969, FDA announced that an artificial sweetner cyclamate would be banned in the United States starting September 11, 1970 becuase studies have linked the product to cancer. Fifty-five other countries were still allowed to use the product. In the same sense, Africa, Europe and several other large countries, have banned hydroquinone because studies have linked the product to skin cancer. The product is still widely used in the United States.

Hydroquinone is a main ingredient within beaching products that work by inhibiting an enzyme reaction in skin cells. It decreases the formation of melanin in the skin which decreases the formation of the skin turning the color brown.

These bleaching products could be bought in almost any beauty supply store and even in grocery stores and department stores. The more concentrated products can be prescribed by a dermotologist.

Mostly used to reduce the appearance of age spots or smaller blemishes, these lightening products promise to enhance beauty by lightening dark spots on the face have now become an ideal lotion for many darker complexioned women, especially African American women.

Within the first 10 music videos that were viewed on BET (Black Entertainment Television), it was of no surprise that majority of the prize women in the music videos were light skinned or of another ethnicity.

These women are fit within the "beauty" criteria which seems to symbolize lighter skin. Many black women have come to rely on bleaching products to fulfill the void of becoming what they consider beautiful.

"Consumer demand of bleaching creme products can be traced to the belief that lighter-skinned people are more successful, intelligent, and sexually more desirable. This demand is centered on fair-skinned celebrities. It all goes to how someone is raised and how they have come to define what speofi physical traits are considered beautiful," said psychologist M.D. David M. Brooks.  "Music videos also have a huge effect on how many of the viewers now define beauty. You see something long enough and your mind conforms to that image and believes it is what beauty is defined."

As far as health implications of using the product goes, hydroquinone can cause serious health implications. There is no safe way to bleach the skin beyond its natural color. You can only go so far with bleach said dermatologist Dward Jeffes.

"While the bleaching could appear to be working in the beginning, lightening the pigments in your skin, oxidation between sun rays and enviornmental chemicals we are subjected to can actually start darkening the skin," said Jeffes. "When this happens, women would tend to apply more of the cream which contains toxic chemicals that can affect the immune system and organs. This happens when enough cream is layered on top of the skin and into the bloodstream. Serious damage could occur."

At this time, there is no linkk between cancer and hydroquinone poven in the United States according to the FDA.

Black women come in all different shades, tones and complexions, and as women in general, it is hard not to be what society has labeled pretty. But it needs to stop ladies. Light is not always right and what you are needs to be considered beauty in your eyes at the least. We cannot let this society break what we have long survived: to be black women.

Stop feeding into these things because it is you and only you who is putting yourself at risk to serious health implications from hydroquinone to be "music video pretty".


Pictures of various bleaching products targeted to black women


  • Anjie R 5 years ago

    bleaching the skin is definitely a disorder that is unhealthy to both the mind and body. We black women need to really see the beauty white america keeps trying to take away from us. That includes our skin complexion.

  • cul kev 5 years ago

    i've often said that the hardest occupation in this world is being a black man; but the hardest thing in this world is definantly being a black woman. i feel for you guys when i look at the magazines or turn on a music video; u don't see enuf of the inda arie's, kelly rowlands, and jill scotts of the world. what is constintly placed in front of us is a made up image of face hair, light skin, and skinny bodies that don't truthfully depict all balck woman. i hope that at somepoint we realize what we're doing to ourselves and end this self loathing madness.

  • kenji 5 years ago

    That was really interesting and sad i really didn't know all of the challenges that black women go through. I guess being light skinned i kinda took it for granted. But after reading this articule it has defenitly given me sum insight on the mental aspect and damage that can be done through music videos and tv always showcasing lighter skinned women. Thank you Lina Houze I look forward to reading much more.....

  • Lvon 5 years ago

    Very good article. I am a 60+ African American woman. I am aware that bleaching was popular in the 40s and 50s, Then in 1968, James Brown came out with "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm proud." He wrote the song to wake up the consciousness of America and it became an anthem for the black power movement. Remember "the Afro" also known as "the natural"? This was another statement of black pride and empowerment. I know you also addressed the health risk of bleaching and that is good. But there is also a stigma attached to "nappy hair." Now sisters have a choice of Indian, European, Asian and fake hair, in various lengths, in weaves or wigs.

  • DDent 5 years ago

    that was a really insightful article...we need more articles like these from black women who are in the know.I would enjoy reading more of your work... where can i find you?

  • james 4 years ago

    this is a vey good article its good to see young women educating other women on the risks of these products!