Indian attitudes don’t change: Whitening products continue to sell

New Delhi, April 16: Matrimonial advertisements for “fair girls” or commercials of beauty brands glamourising the light skin show that the obsession for fair skin persists among women in India despite a majority of Indian women being of brown or dark pigment.

According to market researchers ACNielsen, in 2010, India’s whitening-cream market was worth $432 million (Rs.2,600 crore). In 2012, Indians were said to have consumed 233 tonnes of skin-whitening products.

“The fairness creams marketing strategies, which show that a girl can’t get married unless she is fair, change the mindset of individuals. The visual media has changed the strategy so much that even fair people also use fairness products,” Ravi Mittal, managing director of SKEYNDOR India, a Spanish skincare brand, told IANS.

Although anti-ageing skincare products are doing well, whitening products selling fast. “Whitening skincare products account for approximately 56 percent of the market,” Mittal said.

Age is no bar in such cases and Mittal has observed that women from teens to middle-age are all part of the ‘who is the fairest’ race.

Veena Kumaravel, founder of the Naturals salon chain, seconds this.

“People are coming in and asking for skin lightening treatments. Whether they are from south or north India, people want to look fairer than what they are. We can’t make them absolutely fair as we don’t do chemical peels and all. We remove the tan, which makes the skin lighter and brighter,” she said.

Facials are the first service women prefer and lightening treatments are demanded by 90 percent of women in their 20s before their weddings.

“Women get tanned and so they go for such treatment. In the south, the skin texture is not dry and the weather doesn’t change much so they don’t need moisturising facials. They instead opt for lightening ones. In the north, winter is more about moisturising, but otherwise for special occasions, they want skin lightening treatments,” Kumaravel told IANS.

Some of the whitening services offered by Naturals are Young Radiance at Rs.1,400 and Magical Spark, which costs around Rs.600.

Geetika Mittal Gupta, dermatologist and director of International Skin and Anti-Aging Centre (ISAAC), said the demand for whitening treatments like Photofacials and Vitamin C peel Facials has gone up manifold.

“Photofacial costs Rs.5,000 and Vitamin C peel Facial is priced at Rs.3,000. The demand has gone up over the past few years for such whitening treatments,” she said.

Gupta said the treatment is safe as it is carried out under medical supervision, but advised to strictly follow after-care routine.

“Photofacial is one of the best medi-facials that not only fights the early signs of ageing but also enhances the glow of your skin. Lasers are most effective because of their controlled accuracy and strength in targeting deep layers below the skin’s surface. It is like getting rid of your imperfections from inside out, and there’s more of a predictable outcome as compared to chemical peels or micro-dermabrasion,” Gupta said.

“Your skin type makes a lot of difference and on an average three to five sessions are suggested a month apart. With little or no down time, this treatment is fairly comfortable,” she added.

Vitamin C peel Facial, on the other hand, is imbibed with properties of vitamin C and fruit acids; so it is beneficial to the skin. It also helps remove pigmentation.

While the services offered at salons and clinics have been declared safe by experts, this can’t be said about all the fairness creams available in the market.

“Many fairness creams are made of bleaching agents and ingredients which are banned in Europe as they lead to skin sensitivity and hyper-pigmentation. Many fairness products come with steroids which in the long run would lead to skin damage,” Mittal pointed out.

So, if you still wish to be a part of the herd, do it with care.

IANS