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Duration: 39 minutes

Skin lightening is big business. The market for cosmetics to lighten darker skin is now reported to be worth millions of pounds; Anita Rani (presenter of Watchdog and The One Show) is on a journey to find out why. Starting in her own family, with her mother's preference for lighter skin, she explores the pressures within the Asian community that lead a growing number of people to want to "lighten up".

Anita says: "I have never understood why fair equals beautiful because I love being brown. Through this film, I want to find out where this pressure to change your skin colour is coming from."

Illegal cosmetics are available under the counter in Asian and Afro-Caribbean shops up and down the country. Many illegal creams contain banned chemicals which pose health risks and can cause irreversible damage. Anita goes undercover to see how readily available they are, and she meets one woman who regrets ever using them.

She takes a hard look at the businesses that make money on the promise of lightening dark skin, and tackles the cosmetic distributors and lifestyle magazines that promote and advertise skin lightening products.

Finally, Anita tests one of the legal leading brand skin lightening products for herself. Will it work?

Last on

Sat 5 Dec 2009 03:45 BBC One


Anita Rani
Kevin Jarvis
Kevin Jarvis


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