MANILA, Philippines – Skin whitening brands are just anywhere.
Most are readily available in the markets and in online shops.
For some, skin whitening creams can improve their looks, “the fairer, the prettier.”
Whitening products can fade wrinkles and make you young, says 39-year-old Marcelina Tadong.
“Sa ibang bansa maputi tapos tayo sa Pilipinas maitim. Siyempre gusto rin nila gayahin iyon, (People from other countries are white-skinned and Filipinos are dark skinned. Of course, [some people] want to look like them),” she said.
Experts said skin whitening products must be registered under the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to ensure that they are safe to use.
According to the FDA, any whitening product that contains one part per million of mercury poses health hazards.
“Nagdi-decrease ng pigmentation ng ating balat kaya siya ginagamit na pampaputi. kaya lang kung mataas ang kaniyang concentration isa siyang poison, (Skin pigmentation decreases that’s why they use skin whitening. But when it [skin whitening] is of high concentration, it turns to poison),” noted FDA Acting Officer in Charge Eric Domingo.
Mercury poisoning can damage the kidney and prolonged exposure to the chemical has fatal effects to the human brain.
“Nakaka-irritate siya ng balat. Maaaring sumakit ang balat, magkaroon ng sugat, magkaroon ng peklat (It can irritate the skin, can harm the skin, rashes, wounds and scars may develop),” Domingo said.
“Maaari din itong problema kapag mataas talaga ang concentration, maaari siyang ma-absorb ng katawan ng tao, (Taken in high concentration can cause severe damage because (the chemicals) can be absorbed by the human body),” he added.
In the case of pregnant women, mercury poisoning can be fatal to the unborn child.
Skin expert Dr. Cathy dela Rosa explained many fall victim to counterfeit or fake skin whitening products for not reading the label or ignoring the chemical contents written on the packaging.
“The problem nowadays is kung anu-anong products po ang naglalabasan. Minsan walang labels or minsan, hindi natin alam kung anong ingredients ang nandito na maaaring harmful sa ating skin, (The problem nowadays is a lot of products have come out in the market. Some are labeled. But sometimes we do not read the ingredients and they can be harmful to the skin,)” Dr. Dela Rosa, an aesthetic dermatologist and anti-aging specialist, explained.
“My advice to my patients is to be able for them to read labels,” she added.
Dela Rosa said it is still best to consult professional dermatologists to determine the proper beauty products that are appropriate to your skin type.
She also noted that Filipinos have naturally brown skin which is adaptable to the Philippines’ tropical climate.
“We live in a tropical country so itong melanin itong kulay natin is actually our protection at swerte po tayo dahil sa balat natin (we are lucky to have this type of skin). It doesn’t cause burning,” she noted.
“Maganda siya talaga (It’s a very good type). It protects us from skin cancer. It protects us from other illnesses caused by the sun,” she added.
Friends Lea Vergis and Mary Rein Quijano believe they do not need skin whitening products to have beautiful skin.
“Mas prefer ko iyong natural way lang na paglilinis ng mukha, (I prefer the natural way of cleansing my face,)” Lea said.
“Wala po akong ginagamit especially sa gabi. Naghihilamos lang kasi mas prefer ko iyong kusa akong pumuti, (I don’t use anything especially at night. I just wash my face with water because I prefer the natural glow,)” said Mary Rein.
“Huwag na pong gumamit ng products lalo na iyong hindi hiyang, (Refrain from using any (skin) products especially those that are not appropriate for your skin type,)” added Mary Rein.
Rhea Manansala, for her part, said she will not risk her skin’s health on products that are not tested by experts.
“Kapag whitening medyo nakakatakot kasi siya na kapag nasira na kasi iyong balat mo baka hindi na bumalik sa dati, (I’m afraid of using skin whitening products because they can damage the skin and my skin may not return to its natural state,)” she said.
“Mas malaki iyong damage, (They may cause larger damage,)” she concluded. — (with reports from Aiko Miguel)
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