Skin Brightening vs. Skin Whitening: The Gray Zone of Beauty Brands

“In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act” -Janelle Monáe

The global demand for skin care products that change skin tone is growing fast. People often talk about skin brightening and skin whitening. But what do these terms really mean? How do they reflect on the beauty brands that sell these products?

Argue with your kindergarten teacher, but understand that the debate between skin brightening and skin whitening is more than just about personal choice. It’s about how we see each other and ourselves in the light of our shared history and current social norms.

What’s in a Name?

Skin Brightening Explained

Skin brightening is all about bringing back the natural glow to your skin. It targets issues like dullness, uneven skin tone, and texture problems. The goal is to make the skin look vibrant and healthy without altering its natural color. It includes steps taken to restore skin after injury.

Skin Whitening Defined

Skin whitening products work differently. They aim to lighten the skin, directly targeting melanin, which gives skin its color. The goal here is generally to change the overall color of the individual, usually across their whole face or whole body. These products are more controversial due to their ingredients and the health risks they might pose.

Why Words Matter

The words beauty brands use matter a lot. “Brightening” and “Whitening” send different messages about beauty and skin tone. The language in marketing these products can influence how people see themselves and others.

What’s Culture Got To Do With it?

History Shaped Our View of Beauty

Many cultures around the world have their own ideas about what makes skin beautiful. Over time, history has shown us that people often preferred lighter skin. This idea did not start recently. It has roots going back centuries. Often, these preferences are tied to social status, wealth, and power – and racism.

Colonialism’s Long Shadow – Skin Whitening

Colonial history left a big mark on beauty standards. Countries with a colonial past might still see lighter skin as more desirable. This is because, during colonial times, lighter skin was often associated with being more superior. Sadly, these outdated and moronic ideas can still influence how people see themselves and others today.

Studies Show the Impact

Research has pointed out how skin tone can affect a person’s life in many ways. For example, studies have found that people with lighter skin often receive better treatment in social settings, job markets, and even within legal systems. This unfair advantage is something many are fighting to change.

Beauty Brands and Their Responsibility

Beauty brands play a big role in how people see themselves. They have the power to shape beauty ideals. With this power comes a big responsibility. Brands must think about the messages they send when they sell skin brightening or whitening products. It’s important for these companies to promote beauty in a way that’s healthy and respectful to all skin tones.

What Consumers Should Know

When you buy a beauty product, you’re also buying into the idea it sells. That’s why it’s so important to understand what’s in your skincare products and what those ingredients do. For example, some skin whitening products contain harmful chemicals that can damage your skin over time. Being an informed consumer means making choices that are good for you and reflect the values you believe in.

The Power of Words in Marketing

The words that beauty brands use matter a lot. Words like “brightening” and “whitening” can have different meanings, and it’s up to the consumer to understand these differences. Brands should be clear and honest in their marketing, helping consumers make informed decisions about the products they choose to use.

Skin Whitening: Did you know?

The Risks Involved

While skin brightening focuses on enhancing the skin’s natural appearance, skin whitening aims to change it by reducing melanin. This process can involve risky ingredients like hydroquinone and mercury, which have been linked to harmful side effects, including skin irritation, increased risk of sunburn, and, in severe cases, mercury poisoning. We know many of people may not agree with our view on hydroquinone, but what are the odds you got the tube on your dresser from a licensed dermatologist? Enough said!

Awareness of these risks is crucial for anyone considering skin whitening treatments.

The Legal and Health Considerations

Around the world, the regulation of skin whitening products varies greatly. Some countries have banned substances like hydroquinone and mercury in over-the-counter products, while others still allow their sale. This disparity highlights the importance of understanding the laws and regulations in your country and the potential health implications of using such products

The Influence of Media and Culture

Media and social influencers play a significant role in promoting beauty standards, including the use of skin whitening products. Often, these products are marketed as a way to achieve an idealized beauty standard that may not reflect the diversity and beauty of all skin tones. This can lead to a cycle of dissatisfaction and harm, as individuals strive for an unattainable or unhealthy standard of beauty.

Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

The beauty industry is witnessing a significant shift towards inclusivity and health-focused skin care, moving away from traditional standards that emphasized altering skin’s natural appearance to fit a narrow beauty ideal. This change is driven by a growing awareness and appreciation of diverse beauty, including the natural beauty of melanin-rich skin tones.

Rise of Inclusivity and Diversity

The call for inclusivity in beauty has led to more brands celebrating and catering to a wide range of skin tones. This positive trend is not just about expanding shade ranges in makeup but also about developing skin care products that address the specific needs of diverse skin types without compromising health or promoting unrealistic beauty standards.

Skin Positivity Movement

Social media has played a crucial role in the skin positivity movement, encouraging individuals to embrace their natural skin, imperfections, and all. This movement challenges the notion that clear, lightened skin is the only standard of beauty, promoting a message of acceptance and self-love that resonates with many, especially those with darker skin tones who have long been underrepresented in beauty narratives.

Innovative Skin Care Solutions

Advancements in skin care science have led to the development of innovative products that focus on enhancing skin’s health. Ingredients like antioxidants, peptides, and ceramides are at the forefront of these innovations, offering benefits such as protection against environmental damage, improvement in skin hydration, and support for the skin’s natural barrier. These ingredients cater to the needs of all skin tones, emphasizing health and radiance over lightening.

And So What VOUEE?

As consumers become more informed and vocal about their needs and values, beauty brands are adapting. The future likely holds a continued move towards products and marketing that respect diversity, promote skin health, and contribute to a more inclusive notion of beauty. This evolution suggests a beauty industry that values every individual’s natural beauty, offering solutions that celebrate rather than alter natural skin tones.

VOUEE’s Stance

We are 100% against skin whitening in all of its forms. We stand against the emotional and mental toll it takes on people. We stand against unlicensed hooligans selling harmful products. We stand against health organisations who sit idly by while people apply mercury to themselves. We are against people who validate people’s beliefs around value being linked to skin of color.