By Sudha Hariharan
Discrimination on the basis of colour is something our Constitution does not accept. Yet, you only have to skim the matrimonial ads where the demand for fair brides and, fair grooms too stares at you. What is the reason for the Indian obsession with fair skin? The caste system? The untouchables or Dalits often have dark skin in comparison to the higher caste.Being fair is just considered being “more beautiful”.
And the advertising industry is leaving no stone unturned to cash in on this obsession. So are the numerous cosmetologists and beauty experts. Even the most talented actors who didn’t measure up on the fairness scale fell prey to the various fairness treatments. That’s neither Fair nor Lovely !
The fairness cream industry in India is worth around $450m – Fair & Lovely, marketed by Hindustan Unilever, has more than a 50 per cent share of the market. The BBC reported that in South Asia more skin lightening creams are sold than bottles of Coca Cola and another market research has predicted that the global skin lightening industry will reach $10bn by 2015, led by the growth in India and China.
Dr Megha Shah, Cosmetologist, Beauty and Curves Clinic talks about why celebs are increasingly opting for melanin treatment.
Skin whitening, skin lightening, and skin bleaching refers to the practice of using chemical substances in an attempt to lighten skin tone or provide an even skin complexion by reducing the melanin concentration in the skin.
“The obsession with fair skin in the Indian subcontinent is overpowering. It is difficult for actors to maintain fan following if one is viewed as dusky/ dark skinned. They resort to any amount of skin lightening agents to get the tone that they want. So, they are now going through Melanin Treatment which not only makes the skin look youthful but lightens the skin tone by several shades”, says Dr Shah.
What are these treatments? Popularly these are known as skin whitening or skin lightening treatments. They comprise different skin lightening surgical and non surgical procedures. They lighten melanin saturation over a period of time.
“In the past this was done by using a lot of chemicals and chemical peels. It was done with the help of different vegetative like glycolic acid, lactic, trichloroacetic, salicylic etc. This used to peel and abrade the uppermost layer of skin but the brown sunburn- like appearance of the skin post treatment made its usage limited to certain extent amongst the celebrities and stage performers who had to face the camera daily and very frequently.”
“Along with this, microdermabrasion and dermabrasion were done in the past. These are old skin resurfacing procedures and they were used to treat facial scarring, tanned skin and sun-damaged skin. They also needed extra care post operatively. And its use became limited with the advent of better and newer technologies.”