Be Happy With Your Skin Color
● Some people in Africa, Southern Asia, the Caribbean, and the Middle East associate a lighter complexion with prosperity and high fashion. As a result, a considerable number of men and women in these places use products to lighten their skin tone—but sometimes at a high cost to their health.
Some skin-lightening creams contain hydroquinone, a bleaching agent that suppresses the production of melanin, thus reducing the skin’s natural protection against damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Hydroquinone penetrates the skin and may cause irreversible damage to connective tissue. A result is premature aging. The chemical may also be cancer-causing. Other creams contain mercury, which is another toxin.
Furthermore, continuous use of such products can cause disfiguring rashes, unsightly blotches, and skin so weakened that it cannot be stitched if cut. And if the chemicals in some of these cosmetics are absorbed into the bloodstream, they can damage the liver, the kidneys, or the brain—even causing organ failure.
Ironically, while some dark-skinned people want to lighten their complexion, many fair-skinned people go to great lengths to get a deep tan. To be sure, moderate exposure to the sun can be healthful. It can, for example, enable the production of vitamin D. But extended exposure, especially when the sun is high in the sky, can be harmful. A tan, in fact, indicates that the skin has already suffered damage and is trying to protect itself from further exposure to harmful UV rays. But that protection is limited. A dark tan on fair skin, for instance, provides a sun-protection factor of no more than four. While regular use of sunscreens may help, it does not provide complete protection against skin damage and certain cancers, including melanoma.
Hence, the World Health Organization recommends “strengthening the message that everyone should be happy with their natural skin colour,” which “is an important step in promoting ‘sunsmart’ attitudes.” However, those who are truly wise focus on what the Bible calls “the secret person of the heart,” which, unlike aging skin, can improve with time!—1 Peter 3:3, 4; Proverbs 16:31.