The Race to Turn Fair

Dr sahib I just want to be fair, want a glowing skin, want to look fresh...

These are the words I hear day in and day out from each of my younger patients whether they are boys or girls. The question is why this sudden fad has engulfed our youth for the past few years. We seem to have forgotten that we Pakistanis or Asian are born a brown race by the will and great thoughtfulness of Allah the Almighty. We must also remember the old saying all that glitters is not gold. Our beautiful brown colour protects us from the harsh sun rays, saves us from deadly skin cancers and other diseases.

White skin races are suffering from recurrent skin cancers, early ageing of skin in the form of wrinkles, black spots on the face in the form of freckles and seborreoric keratosis. They may also develop much darker spots known as sun spots or actinic keratosis, these are pre malignant and eventually develop into skin cancers if not treated in time.

This craze to become fair comes from two apparent factors; 1) Social pressures 2) Media. All women looking for brides for their sons, desire for girls who are fair and pretty, and reject nice decent girls, because of the complexion and some minute marks or scars. This racism should be finished. This is against our religion as well as ethically wrong. Criticizing physical attributes of any one means displeasing Allah, because all people are created equal by God. Media adds fuel to this smouldering fire by advertising so called fairness creams that claims to change the complexion within seconds. The so called miracle creams are actually steroid containing products that lightens the colour slightly but have adverse effects in the form of excessive hair growth, pimples and thinning of the skin leading to red faces, brown pigmentation and early wrinkling. In other words early ageing! So how to deal with this situation? The thing to remember is that there are actual substances that can dilute skin colour without causing bad effects, and there are ways and means to cure scars and marks.

Pigmentation can be diluted with applications of different substances made up of fruit acids, plant extracts, vitamin A derivatives, components of vitamin B and amino acids. Fruit acids are probably the oldest forms of skin scrubs and lightening agents. Egyptian women were the pioneers in this field. Juices of sugar cane, grapes, lemon and peach were frequently used, which contain alpha hydroxy acids. The extracts of Pine Bark are also included in the list of lightening agents. These are rediscovered now and mixed into different creams – when applied in proper proportions for some weeks can lead to lightening of the skin tone.

Sun protection is a compulsory feature as sun rays have skin damaging affect and frequent exposure leads to patchy pigmentation. Black hijabs also absorb sun light and may increase pigmentation of the skin. Therefore, by changing the colour of the hijab into a lighter shade will help in protection from the sun along with a sun block application.

The simple way to look after the skin and to look fresh is actually a regime which has to be followed always. Wash regularly with a mild soap – soaps that are frequently advertised on the media usually contain harmful acids that will dry out the skin and abrade it, making it vulnerable to environmental changes. This cause pigmentation, early wrinkling or eczematous changes.

Moisture is important for the body to maintain suppleness of the skin. Therefore, to moisturize the skin after washing is important. There is no need to buy expensive moisturizers as simple creams available in the market are nice and do not harm the skin. Drinking plenty of water, approximately 6-12 glasses a day, will hydrate the skin and reduce early formation of wrinkles. Fruit and vegetables are easy sources of vitamins and antioxidants. The darker the colour of the fruit or vegetables the better it is. Fruits like plums, pomegranate, oranges and black grapes are really good antioxidants. Similarly vegetables like tomatoes, beet root, carrots, spinach, broccoli, green pepper and green chiles are great source of antioxidants. Therefore, should be taken frequently.

Experimentation with different chemicals or plants may lead to excessive pigmentation of the skin. Makeover is not bad for the skin; the rule is to wash off the makeover as soon as possible. The newer foundations contain sun blocks and actually are protective.

The real key to the beauty is a beautiful personality that comes with a clean & honest heart and a smile. It changes everything and makes you beautiful. Stay pretty by not having bad feelings about anybody; forgiveness is the key for a clean heart. Anger, malice and making a sour face spoils the beauty of fairies, too.

The writer is a practicing Dermatologist. [email protected]

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