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Beware of all that whitens

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Customers lapping up cosmetic brands endorsed by social media influencers without medical recommendations must be careful. Some of the products may lead to discolouration or black spots, warns skin specialists.

Dr Al Mutasim al Qasabi, a dermatologist, said women should be wary of misleading advertisements that promise skin whitening creams.

He said in a post that even if a social media influencer has a certificate of accreditation from the competent authorities, that certificate might be for one product, and not for all products on display. So, it is not possible to judge the quality of the product and its suitability. He said many problems appear later with repeated usage.

In the recent period, there is a growing trend among teenagers to lighten the skin, prompting many influencers to promote home-made concoctions instead of using products with medical advice.

Many people fall into the trap of miracle cures peddled by unscrupulous merchants who pay influencers or the so-called “fashionistas” to promote their products.

Side effects of the untrusted cosmetics range from skin irritation to burns. In more severe cases, skin becomes tender and scarred, kidneys and livers are damaged. Some ingredients may even pose risk to babies at birth.

Long-term use leads to thinning and atrophy of the skin, appearance of stretch marks, easy bruising and an increased risk of infection. Over time, it affects the entire body and causes high pressure, diabetes, weight gain and osteoporosis.

The World Health Organization indicated that hydroquinone, which exists in many products, causes Ochronosis, which is the deposition of melanin inside some tissues such as joints and cartilage, in addition to causing skin sensitivity in many cases.

Dr Anjali Mahto, a consultant dermatologist, said untested skin creams are being promoted in Pakistan, the Middle East and the Caribbean countries.

While in the UK, it is forbidden by law to sell products without the name, address of the supplier and list of ingredients. If it lacks one of these basic information it means that it was imported illegally and may contain harmful ingredients. “But in the Middle East there is a lax regulation and it is possible to sell such products in markets and stores without any warnings or detailed information.”

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