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Dr. Kim Mulvihill reporting A strange sounding beauty practice is making a comeback. Dr. Kim Mulvihill reports on women "lightening" their faces to appear more desirable, youthful and beautiful.
"Lighter skin... the lighter the better."
For countless women of Asian descent, lily-white, flawless skin is still the feminine ideal - - - even if its pursuit may sound troubling.
Jeanne Joiner, Doesn't Like Skin Pigmentation: “If you're dark skin, you're lower class.. You're sort of a laborer, you work in the farms you work in the fields. If you're upper class, you're always indoors and you've been taken care of , you're using your sun screen."
In fact, the desire to get rid of dark spots caused by sun damage, pregnancy, or hormones - is felt by many women.
It's little wonder the biggest boom in cosmetics are skin whitening gels, lotions and serums. Some of these products contain hydroquinone - a drug that lightens dark spots by interfering with the production of melanin. Stronger versions are available by prescription.
But hydroquinone can also irritate the skin and make it even more sensitive to sun. In fact, any sunlight may reverse the effect. In rare cases, instead of lightening the skin, it can permanently darken it
The F-D-A says it is safe and effective when used as directed, and many swear prescription hydroquinone works best.
Jeannie Joiner used to feel pressured to have lily white skin and tried prescription creams. It was an uphill battle.
Jeanne Joiner, Doesn't Like Skin Pigmentation: "You can do a quick fix, you go out in the sun and boom its back"
She now takes care of her skin by using a good sunscreen and vitamin c.
Mary Tay writes about skin care in Asian magazines. She hopes all women obsessed with whitening their skin will grow to understand - beauty is more than skin deep.
Mary Tay, Skin Care Professional: "I think the idea of feeling beautiful is having reached a harmony between what you feel from the outside and how you feel from the inside"
Many cosmetics companies are now using botanicals instead of hydroquinone in their skin whitening products.