Fairness has always been considered as the ideal beauty standard every girl should aspire to achieve. It is generally considered that to be lovely and beautiful, you need to be fair. This attitude towards fair skin is something that has affected women since time immemorial, not simply as a beauty standard but also in important aspects of life such as relationships and employment. This focus on fairness is a predominantly Asian aspect, whilst Europeans with naturally fair skin, on the other hand, are eager to get ‘tan’.
So, what is it with this skin color? Why do some people have fair skin, and some have dark skin?
It’s all about melanin!
Let’s take a look at the world map.
You would have observed that people living in countries over the equator and close to the equator generally seem to have darker skin, than the people away from the equator. Being closer to the equator means that your skin is exposed to sunlight all over the year as opposed to seasonally, and extensive exposure to sunlight can lead to skin mutations such as cancer. To protect against this, the skin naturally produces what we call “Melanin”, the pigment that gives the skin its color and what protects our skin from harmful UV rays. When your sun exposure is high, your skin produces more melanin, and our genetic code remembers this, which is why most Africans, Asians and Arabs are considerably darker than Europeans. In short, having darker skin means that you are better protected from the harmful rays of the sun. And living in a tropical country like Sri Lanka, this is something we all need!
How fairness creams work
Although it is highly advantageous and even healthy to have dark skin, most women still aspire to achieve fair skin due to established beauty standards. The most popular method of achieving this fairness is of course, to use a fairness cream. However, do you know how fairness creams work?
All skin whitening creams function by inhibiting tyrosinase. This is a chemical that is required for the production of melanin in the skin. By restricting the production of melanin, these creams promise, and deliver on fairer skin to its users. However, some creams tend to include sun block agents into the cream to bypass the ill effects of restricting the production of melanin and thereby try to avoid the effects of UV rays on the skin, but most creams simply act as melanin restricting agents.
Overall, artificially restricting the production of a skin cell that protects you from the harmful UV rays of the sun, can result in a number of adverse effects in the long run such as skin mutations and a dependence on the whitening cream.
Well maintained, healthy skin = Beautiful skin
Every skin color is beautiful, be it dark or fair. Just make sure to take good care of your skin with a dedicated regime of using proper cleansing agents, regular exfoliation, not forgetting to use skin protection such as sun lotion and most importantly, giving your skin the nourishment it needs, with the use of a trusted moisturizer such as Calamine. Well maintained skin looks naturally even toned and more alive, which is a lot more important having fair but lifeless skin.
Article by Shana Azeem