Do Fairness Creams Really Work?

fairness creamThe first thing that comes to my mind when I see any fairness cream advertisement is “oh my god that is so racist”; it’s like going to a black person and saying “ would you want a fairness cream? You should use it because you aren’t fair enough to be human. I don’t know why I hate their ads but I do; it’s highly racist when you showcase a girl sad when she is dark and happy when she is fair. Generally in the fairness creams advertisement you will see the girl being normal, sad and not reaching her goals because of her color and BANG she uses a stupid cream and she gets what she wants and everyone falls in love with her.

fairness creamDon’t you feel sad for the girl? She has the same talent, the same face, same body but fair skin ( just on the face by the way :P). I find it highly annoying because I see things in that ad that others don’t. I am a literature student and an essential part of my study is that of post colonial nature. I study a specific paper which deals with the affect of colonization on the colonized (effects of the English on Indians). I study literature regarding this but the one thing that surprises me is the actual practice of this in India.

My dislike of the fairness creams stems from my knowledge of colonization in the idea of a fairness cream; trying to be fair is more than just wanting to be pale. The people who buy the fairness cream are getting included in this cycle of wanting to be white- it’s like trying to be like a white person because unconsciously you feel they are superior to you or their appearance is more desirable. I don’t think any Indian consciously wants to be white but I can’t generalize.

Some Facts About Fairness Creams

fairness cream2I know it’s easy for me to say that “don’t use fairness creams” considering the fact that I am fair but let me tell you the truth behind fairness creams. Our skin color is determined by our race and genetic lineage which in turn decides the amount and structure of melanin (the pigment in the skin which is the reason for our color). According to most dermatologists, achieving fairness up to 20% is possible, but not more than that. The fairness creams block sun rays and prevent secretion of Melanin, which gives the dark colour to the skin. So in effect fairness cream reduce tan, prevent the skin from getting darker by preventing melanin secretion; but fairness creams cannot change a person’s natural skin color. Nothing can change that structure of melanin. It’s the same as if you have curly hair, you cannot use any product to naturally make it straight , you can comb it when its wet but the actual and natural structure of your hair will remain curly, you can even get it chemically treated but the new hair growth will always be curly. A fairness cream does the same , it removes your upper skin layer so that the skin below appears. Fairness creams can contain harmful bleaching agent such as hydroquinone, the percentage of which is between 3- 4%, but most of them do not mention the percentage of the chemicals on the packets which can cause skin allergy, cancer, kidney problem. Hydroquinone is a strong inhibitor of melanin production, meaning that it prevents skin from making the substance responsible for skin color. Hydroquinone does not bleach the skin but lightens it, and can only disrupt the synthesis and production of melanin hyperpigmentation. It has been banned in some countries (e.g. France) because of fears of a cancer risk.

I am not trying to turn you away from the fairness cream you have used for some years now but I just want you to question the products you use. You should think before you apply something on your face because it represents you. Anything that is used by you or comes in contact with you changes and formulates your personality. If you are applying a cream to your face because it boost your confidence it is okay but you should question if you are comfortable in your natural skin color. I am not against some person using anything on their face but the question is of “questioning” the product.

There are natural variants to make your skin ‘clear.’ I use besan with lemon on my face; that is the only thing I have used for 7 years now to wash my face 🙂 The lemon clears your skin of any marks and dark spot. Lemon will not erode the upper layer of the skin but it will lighten the imperfection in your complexion. I am not miss white but I like my complexion. Be proud of what you have, any color, any shape, any size… a person is beautiful when they smile 🙂

Some Myths About Fairness Creams


  • Fairness creams can make you fair: All fairness cream or skin whitening creams are effective only if the pigment is in the epidermis. If the pigment is deeper, the product canot help or make changes. Thus, fairness cream can help remove a tan or discoloration due to some pigment in the top layer of the skin. It cannot make a dark person fair.
  • Manufacturers list all their ingredients on the product label: This is not true. Manufacturers are not required by law to mention all the ingredients on the product label.
  • Fair skin is better than dark skin: Medically, dark skin is believed to be less vulnerable to skin diseases than light skin. More melanin in dark skins provides protection from the sun and, in turn, disease. Light skin contains less melanin and thus less protection.
  • Ayurvedic or herbal fairness creams have no chemicals: This is a myth. Only home remedies for fairness can be free of chemicals. All commercial products have chemical bases that give them the texture and consistency and preservatives that prevent them from going bad.
  • Herbal ingredients have no side effects: A person can be allergic to plant based herbal ingredients also. It is advisable that they apply the cream to a small area on their hands before using them.

Also Read:

Himalaya Herbals Fairness Cream
Lotus Herbals Cocofair Ginseng Fairness Creme
Oriflame Fairness Lotion with Mulberry & Vitamin E
Kaya Fairness Nourishing Day cream with SPF 15
Skin Care : Revlon Touch and Glow Advanced Fairness Cream
Face: Skin Whitening Products

images: 1, 2


45 thoughts on “Do Fairness Creams Really Work?

  1. The biggest problem in INdia(rather South asia) is that ppl here have a wide variety of complexions ranging from porcelain white to coffee brown!!!people belonging to other countries do not have such a wide variety of complexions…

    Now this is where the prob starts!!Dark complexioned people would want to become fair coz seeing fair ppl in their own society.This makes INdia a large market for fairness creams…Even black women in African countries do not suffer from low self esteem coz everybody has the same colour.

    1. Actually Sonam, people in African countries and African-Americans also have different degrees of skin shades and unfortunately go through the same discrimination within their community, as it happens in India. I came to know about this issue when I was living in America. They also have creams which they call “skin-whitening” products.

      1. Btw, great article! I am glad someone wrote this on IMBB. I am really surprised when eminent actors like Shahrukh Khan and Shahid kapor endorse fairness creams.
        Ashwariya Rai mentions in articles that she does not like fairness creams but many of the L’oreal products she endorses claim to lighten skin.

      2. Yeah……Nikki I think it may be prevalant in African-American communities where the parents of children born have different races.

  2. Very nice article Komal :clap: :clap: :clap:
    Really, I don’t understand why gals r behind becoming fair! U should love urself the way u r…
    Inner beauty is most important thing, and the complexion is least important and nowhere related to ur confidence. When we were to get married, my hubby had asked me to use fairness cream coz of sasu ma(she wanted gori chitti bahu :/ ) to which my answer was she has to accept me as I am, I love myself the way I am. If not go and get some gori ladki 😛 He he, poor hubby never said me any such thing since then for the sake of his mom 😉

  3. I really hate the way they showcase the fairness products, so mean.
    marketing ke liye kuch bhi karega kya……. shame less ppl………

  4. hiiii Komal… a very good article…..i have seen many girls n even boys wasting thier money to buy des products to have a dream change come true…but all is vain..they only ended up with empty wallets and itchy painted face….

    the better way to gain fairness is by consuming inside one’s body not outside..
    i have met wid a ayurveda xpert a year ago and he said that there is very simple tip about the products to be used for skin and that is: ” do not apply things on your face which u cannot watever u apply on ur face…it consumes it..i.e it goes inside… so b carefull not to let ur face taste taizaab…..

    well, thnx komal for such a awareness :thanks:

  5. good piece of opinion komal :yes:
    which motivates me to do something on long, shiny silky straight hair obsesssion to which i seriously don’t see a colonial past dimension! :smug: :smug: :smug:

  6. It’s great that someone wrote about this considering Indians and their fascination with fairness.Products claiming to make your fair rely mostly on advertising which are actually pretty dumb.And as if this was not enough now we have fairness creams for men also.

  7. i loved reading ur post,komal…its true yet a shame for the pple who believe in “gori chamdi”….but a gr8 write-up.. keep up the gud work.. :clap: :clap: :clap: :bravo: :bravo: :bravo: :rose: :rose: :rose:

  8. hey komal really a great article….
    thr are so many things still in our country which bothers me so much and one of them is the ENGLISH ka keeda :teeth:
    very well written article :bravo: :bravo: :bravo:

    1. very true :waytogo: ,, :talktohand: some myths are widely spreading all over asia,,, but on the same hand some people keeps blind faith on them… :violinbash: :violinbash: :poop: :poop: :poop: :poop:

  9. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE LOVE LOVE(to the power of 2k) ur article!!!!!!!!
    I hv dark skin i was constantly told by my peers to use fair& lovely back in skul(but i did’nt)
    I seriously dont understand the craze behind fair skin! I mean, fair skin is excellent but dark skin is equally good too.
    A few weeks back, i spotted emami’s fair and teens formulated specially for teens. I mean, WTH??? I hope ppl wid deep complexions stop being conscious and love their skin for what it is. :shy: :shy: :soldier: 🙂 🙂 :))

  10. actually indian girls are mistaken between fairness and bright complexion….. an average indain girl wants to brighten their complexion and wants to reduce the pigments and falls in the trap of fairness cream….fairness cream cant provide the fairness at all instead they react badly in the skin…..i can say coz i tried sum of the fairness cream long years wen for me the flawless skin means the fair skin now i know the difference…..but still lots of indian gals are unaware of consmetics and skin care gimmicks……most of them not only purchase the lethal fairness cream but also the cheap expired or unbranded brands. of korea and china….i see many gals purchasing lipstick eyeliner and makeup kit that cost only 20- 50 rs …..thats seriously damage their skin and instead of visiting the dermatalogist they purchase the fairness cream as its their sanjeevani buti

  11. Nice article Komal! I agree with you about the wrong portrayal in the fairness products ads. Though I do think that when a person takes care of his/her appearance, it adds a certain confidence to the personality. The more important point as far as skin goes is its clarity, quality and glow and not the ‘shade’. A lot of dusky women like Jessica Alba, Beyonce are considered beautiful for their clear, glowing skin. Its all about our perceptions as individuals and as a society and its really sad how today these perceptions and formed and influenced by media

  12. i love you komal for writing this article. you deserve an applause :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
    its high time girls..even guys after dat “hi handsome hi handsome” jingle learn this. sigh

  13. :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: very great & Nice article… u deserve a Choclate & big applause… :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

  14. ahh.. the 1st fleeting thought that came to my mind when i saw this title was jomol’s ginseng fairness cream experience 🙂

    Anyways the basic rules of advertisement is to make you feel BAD .. feel bad about what you have , make you feel incomplete & failure then showcase you one stop solution for all your failure. REPLACEMENT THERAPY.
    So fairness creams are not different if you notice, every other ad will 1st make you feel bad then good with their products. So we are one’s who should be keeping a check on our emotions and think before we buy such things in haste.

    BTW i agree fairness isn’t everything a healthy glowing clear skin is better :).

  15. When one has darker complexion, they want to be fairer…..when one has lighter complexion, they want to be darker (hence…THE “Tan”, THE “Bronzer”)… one is truly happy……The best way to go about beauty, is to know the best features of your face, highlight them and be confident! :waytogo:

    Most Indians have beautiful almond shaped eyes, broad, yet (not plumped) nice-sized lips, great cheekbones, oval shapes……I so love black eye liner/kohl products or gold and silver based highlighters,shimmers….we are the ones that can wear them best. We can play with so many different range of colors to suit our mood…..the trick is to blend well and play it subtle….. :whistle:

  16. very nice article Komal… actually the difference between being fair and having a clear complexion is considered one and the same. but in real both are two different things… having a clear flawless skin does not mean that to have fair skinned… secondly we should respect what God has given to us…. starting from the color of the tip of a hair strand till the color of your nail bed, has a reason behind it. God has created each one of us in a different way that will help us to survive better in the nature. And i believe going against nature is a sin in itself… but on the same note i want to add…. taking care of whatever is given by God is also our duty….

  17. :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: exactly my thpought opn fairness creams…excellent write up , topic as well as writing!! keep it up!! :clap: :clap: :clap: :rose:

  18. I highly regard your opinion but I sincerely believe there is no such harm in trying to become what u want. After all it’s your skin, your colour and one can do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t cause serious damage to the skin. :snicker: I m pale and am comfortable with my porcelain skin, if someone isn’t with their honey coloured complexion why can’t they go ahead and do something bout it. ?:) ?:)
    As of the advertising part yes those ads suck big time and are soooo goddamn dumb. :duel: And I believe girls today are confident enough and go ahead and leave their mark regardless of being fair or chocolate skinned. It’s bout the confidence and understanding of your own comfort with your complexion I believe. And yes people are beautiful if they believe themselves to be. :highfive:

  19. Great article Komal… yes its very true now a days we girls are behind makeup and fairness creams but we ignore the harmful chemicals used in these products which causes different dieces.

    I read an artical about lead content in high brand lipsticks which causes cancer. hence we should be always aware about the quality of the product we are using. High cost or high brand dosn’t mean they are giving safe product.

  20. Amazing article, Komal, kudos!!! I’m glad you wrote about these ‘fairness creams’….and please do go ninja on the issue, you’ll get all the support you need….its pathetic how our society has programmed people to perpetuate the colonial attitude of ‘fair is superior’…..women in our country spend millions of rupees on products that ultimately cause damage to their skin, all for the elusive dream of ‘fair skin’ or ‘gori chitti’!!!!! its awful how rascist and degrading this whole thing is……..and its apalling how foreign cosmetic brands entering Indian markets have also cashed in on this inferiority complex afflicting majority of our population and floated products with things like ‘skin lightening systems’ that, in the US or Europe, would be sufficient grounds for a big, fat law suit waiting to be slapped on them ….

  21. Very nice article…Komal…Good job ! :thumbsup: the fairness creams really sucks….it is important to have inner beauty but also outer beauty…..but one can also look pretty although they dont have fair skin….some actress of Bollywood like Priyanka Chopra i mean what will i say….i find her prettier than Amisha Patel…but amisha patel is fair….nd priyanka chopra is not fair but she is prettier than amisha patel…

    So be happy with whatever God has given u… :present: … :lashes: ..

  22. “He will notice me when my skin gets fairer”. This is the tagline for a fairness cream ad that is shown on TV. Did the makers of this ad ever stop to think what this ad would do to the self-esteem of every young girl with dark skin? I guess they think that each of those girls would run to the store to buy their product. Such ads should be banned on TV. This is casteism in another avatar.

  23. Very well written article. Not only do they show all wrong things, even the basics are not captured clearly. They show a girl with dark complexion, make her use the cream on her face and then suddenly she turns fair or pinkish all over her body. I guess they should start advertising it as a “miracle cream”. And also, they show as if, anyone is eligible to get a boyfriend or job only with their fairness and not by their goodness or intellect. How mean…

    1. komal your article was done aftr some amount of research which appreciate id jus like to point out something to you that this indian fixation with white skin goes even further than those 200 years of british raj
      indians were dominated by the moghuls bfre and the moghul aristocracy were light skinned n light eyed as they ruled n were in power ppl began associating affluence and prosperity n superiority wit fair skin,,but it dsnt stop there
      maybe maybe even further down stemming from our varna system when the brahmins performed the austerities which compelled the shudras to do the menial laborious job automaticvally this rang of society was exposed more to the sun thus more melanin secretion and gradually over generation as a corollary of adaptation and evolution the shudras beca,me darker and brahmins got fairer and ppl over the years considered dark skinned ppl to b poor and fair to b rich

      would like your take on this
      im doinga tiny ppt presentaton on how indians r fixated by fair skin n came across your blog
      keep up th good work

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