think people have to realise that their skin is the colour it is for a reason
and that is their natural colour."
Dr Olivia Stevenson
The beauty industry is worth millions.
on our desire to change the way we look
to be more attractive.
you're black or Asian there's a perception that the lighter your skin, the more
attractive you are.
There are dozens of products that claim to be able
to lighten your skin.
Many are legal.
But Inside Out has discovered
that there are some still on sale that contain a substance that's been banned
here for six years.
Women using these are risking their health in their
quest for lighter skin.
Light and radiant
For some time Neyasha
from Northamptonshire was unhappy with her appearance.
- skin damage caused by lightening products|
Fed up with seeing
images of beautiful, light skinned black women, she decided to take action.
bought a skin lightening product which, unknown to her, contained a harmful illegal
It has left her face burnt and scarred.
She's too embarrassed
to appear on camera:
"I wanted to lighten my skin. When
I applied the cream, I had no idea what it would do to me.
became itchy. I had to scratch my face so hard.
"My face became two
different colours. I stayed indoors, didn't want people to see me.
thought it would clear up, but it just got worse
product she used contained a toxic substance called hydroquinone.
the biological equivalent of paint stripper or bleach.
It might lighten
your skin, but can lead to very nasty side effects.
Dr Olivia Stevenson, Consultant Dermatologist at Kettering
General Hospital says:
"Using hydroquinone as a cosmetic
has potential dangers.
"The main one being that the strength can be
very variable and the use of strong hydroquinone for long periods can be associated
with worse pigmentation.
"You can actually end up with darker skin
rather than lighter skin."
It's a criminal offence to
sell such products.
Yet many shops are prepared to risk a fine or worse.
concerns - dermatologist Dr Stevenson|
- we discovered it's unbelievably easy to buy products with hydroquinone from
shops that are openly breaking the law.
Wearing a hidden camera our Inside
Out researcher went to see if she could find any of the banned beauty products.
It didn't take long.
In The Asafo Market, in Northampton's Wellingborough
Road, the shop assistant happily sold us two products - Clair-liss toning cream
and Clair-liss toning body oil.
Both contain the banned substance hydroquinone.
He gave our researcher no indication that the products are dangerous.
In fact he suggested mixing them together, which can be even more hazardous.
Next stop was a shop called Afro and Multi-Cultural Hair
The shop assistant here sold us a lotion called Skin Light.
and Asian women feel strongly about whitening|
It too contains
Third was Goddess where once again two items bought both
listed hydroquinone as an ingredient.
It was a similar story at Makola
We purchased two skin lighting products and both, you guessed it,
At the heart of the matter is the cultural pressure
for black and Asian women to lighten their skin tone.
It's something many
women feel strongly about.
Murrain from Northamptonshire says:
am happy with the way I look and think we should all be happy with the way we
look. We shouldn't be thinking about making our skin lighter."
Glashen also from Northamptonshire, agrees:
"I am happy with my skin,
the colour of it.
"I have no wish to be lighter, I have no desire
to use these sorts of products to make my skin lighter. I think I am desirable
as I am."
- banned from skin lightening products|
Although some women
are happy in their skins, the sad thing is there are obviously many who are not.
We found plenty of shops happy to supply their needs.
to ask them why.
The owners of Asafo Market and Afro and Multi Cultural
Hair Products didn't want to talk to us.
The manager of Makola Market wrote
to us saying he "wasn't aware these substances were illegal".
says they've taken them off the shelves.
Since we filmed, the owner of Afro and Multi Cultural
Hair products also called us to say that she didn't know these products were illegal
because "everyone sells them".
to celebrate black beauty with fears over whitening|
has now stopped.
We've also told Trading Standards who say they will be
investigating across the county.
The majority of shops we investigated
in Northamptonshire were selling banned skin bleaching products.
recent prosecutions, it seems there is either widespread ignorance or the belief
that they won't be caught.
Neyesha has a message for them:
the shops that are doing this, I say - it is high time you stopped. You are causing
And dermatologist Dr Olivia Stevenson is
"The main problems with people buying unknown
cosmetics is that they don't know what's in them.
"At best they may
be wasting their money. At worst they could be putting things on their skin which
are potentially dangerous.
"I think people have to realise that their
skin is the colour it is for a reason and that is their natural colour.
their natural skin pigment is a losing battle."
relating to this story:
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