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Fact-check: Beauty products, home remedies cannot make you fairer

Published on Tue 24 Jan 2023 at 05:25

While many factors influence the skin tone, the pigment melanin is by far the most significant. 

By Toibah Kirmani

It has been socially implanted that dark skin isn’t beautiful. There’s a flourishing industry of fairness products. Similarly, social media is rife with videos (examples here and here) promoting the fallacious notion that you can become fairer overnight, or over the course of a week. 

However, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. According to science, there are trillions of cells in the human body and they constantly replicate, producing their own replacements as they get older and more damaged. So how is it possible for a fairness cream or home remedy to permanently alter one’s skin tone? 

Variation in pigmentation, which is brought on by genetics (inherited from one’s biological parents and/or specific gene alleles), exposure to the sun, natural and sexual selection, or any combination of these, is what gives people their skin tones. While many factors influence the skin tone, the pigment melanin is by far the most significant. 

Melanocytes are skin cells that create the pigment melanin. Each individual has roughly the same number of melanocytes. However, the amount of melanin generated and how it is distributed throughout the skin depends on each person’s heredity.

“Why would you want to modify the colour of healthy skin?” asks Dr Masroor Wani, a practising dermatologist from Srinagar, India. “Our skin is dark for excellent evolutionary and biological reasons. Dark skin is comparatively healthier than lighter skin. There’s no need to look fair just because fairness creams say so! Avoid being duped by these videos,” he advises. 

Most fairness creams contain hydroquinone, corticosteroids, or mercury, ingredients that are known to have harmful side effects, when used without medical consultation. They can cause scarring, discolouration, reduce immunity, increase the risk of skin cancer as well as neurological issues. 

The healthiest way to get a glowing skin is to consume a balanced diet. Include fresh fruits, leafy greens, seafood, and whole grains into your diet on a regular basis. Avoid alcohol and foods that are deep-fried or overloaded with sugar. 

In case, you have any concerns about your skin, it’s best to consult a qualified dermatologist and not social media ‘experts’.