Thailand's Latest Skin-Whitening Fad Might Be the Most Disturbing One Yet
Stefanie Lee | 2 Jul 2015
Asia’s skin-whitening industrial complex never stops innovating.
The latest product? A chemical goop for women (and men) unhappy with the color of their limbs. Simply slather it all over your arms and legs. Wait a week. Then peel back your skin to reveal the milky white you are hiding beneath all that pigment.
It looks about as pleasant as it sounds.
Here’s an instructional video in which skin sloughs off a young woman’s forearm in translucent sheets. It may look familiar to anyone who’s endured severe sun poisoning.
Asia’s supermarket shelves are filled with a dizzying variety of skin-whitening agents. Many in Asia are as obsessed with lightening their skin as westerners are about tanning it.
The product lines go far beyond lotions and pills. There are skin-whitening injections. Armpit-whitening deodorants sold at 7-Eleven outlets. A heavily advertised “whitening feminine wash” for female genitals.
This isn’t a fringe market. One research firm predicts that the “global skin lightener” industry — powered by transnational conglomerates such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble — will be worth $23 billion by 2020.
As for goops that cause skin peeling? Most don’t really work, according to Sumali Pongjibrasan, an expert with Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration, who was interviewed by a Thai TV channel when the fad emerged last year.
“In reality, these skin-peeling solutions are just chemicals that have a temporary effect,” she said. “The only solutions that have permanent effects use banned substances. And they’re very dangerous.”
For a lengthy analysis of Asia’s skin-whitening obsession, written by a Thai female author, check out this article: “Thailand’s skin whitening craze: How far will it go?”
DR Celine Leong, Astique Clinic
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Microdermabrasion uses micro-particles to exfoliate the dull surface of your skin, vacuuming out particles of dead skin to allow a fresh new glowing skin to resurface.
Chemical Peel, $214 for 2
Chemical Peel is a 3- to 7-day controlled skin peel system. This medical-grade cosmetic treatment is based on the inhibition of tyrosinase, a critical enzyme in the melanin (pigment) production process, and is designed to lighten blemishes and resistant pigmentation, and brighten your complexion quickly and effectively.
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Medi-facials are skin treatments formulated to improve general skin health as well as to address specific skin conditions.
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Specially created by our doctors over the years, Astique's Radiance Ex Treatment is effective in treating pigmentation, fine lines/wrinkles, enlarged pores as well as dull and oily skin.
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At ASTIQUE, we use the Medlite from HOYA ConBio®, the latest in Q-switched laser technology. The Medlite has been studied in many clinical trials and is approved by the FDA for the successful treatment of pigmentation disorders.
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Dr Ivan Tan, Nu.Reflections Medical Aesthetics
Pigment Laser, from $250 onwards
This highly versatile treatment is used to treat a variety of pigmentary disorders such as freckles and sun spots, melasma and aged spots. This treatment can also help on enlarged pores and gives the skin an overall rejuvenated appearance.
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Dr. Elias Tam Tak Chuen, EHA Clinic
Fractional Skin Laser, from $856 onwards
Starts at $856 for one session and is a good solution for acne scars
Pigmentation Laser, from $428 onwards
Laser for skin rejuvenation or pigmentation using Q-Switch - starts at $428 for one session
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