The Scary Side Of Skin Lightening Creams Isn’t Just Psychological

Skin-lightening creams might be controversial for their implications on race and beauty, but they’re also seriously dangerous, reports The New York Times. These creams are so strong that many users thin down their skin to a point that it bruises to the touch, exposes capillaries, and causes acne. The culprit? Steroids. (Eek!)

Oftentimes mislabeled, or not listed in the ingredients at all, many users are unaware that they’re putting such harmful products on their faces. And one shouldn’t even think for a second that steroids are commonly used in dermatological practices. Dermatologist Dr. Erin Gilbert tells the Times, “Clobetasol is the most potent topical steroid we make in dermatology … There’s almost no indication where you’d use it on the face. And it’s basically provided to people as cosmetic products. It’s illegal.” What’s more is that certain brands even use mercury in their mixtures, which can be a powerful poison.

Another concerning aspect: these lotions are no longer niche products. The Times suggests that the skin lightening cream demographic is unexpectedly wide, and according to one doctor, sufferers of side effects aren’t “necessarily immigrants,” but also “Ph.D.’s to women from corporate America, teachers to engineers — the entire broad spectrum of women of color.” Meaning, skin lightening creams are becoming just as popular for treating acne scars and other irregularities in skin tone. Problem is, there’s not a lot of truth in labeling when it comes to these products. [New York Times]

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