You’re shopping for some masks and you come across packaging with the word “whitening” on it. The immediate thought you may have is, “Is this mask going to make my face whiter?” This can stir up some conversation about whether or not this involves skin bleaching to make the skin literally whiter. There may even be some controversy in regards to racism and why K-Beauty brands are marketing skincare products that make you “whiter”. It can be misleading and off-putting to see whitening on products, but I’m here to clear up any misconceptions you may have.
What does skin “Whitening” mean?
The term whitening can be considered insensitive in context to the racism and colonization of African American and other dark-skinned people in the past. However, in Korea, the beauty standard revolves around having fair, porcelain skin. It symbolizes health, purity, and wealth which may sound classist to some extent but it is a cultural norm for many East Asian countries to want “whiter” skin.
However, the measures that Koreans take to achieve whiter skin doesn’t amount to the extreme methods of skin bleaching and laser treatments. When it comes to K-Beauty whitening products, the term is interchangeable with the word “brightening”. Koreans, like many of us, want to have bright and healthy skin, so that is why brands would often translate this brightening effect as “whitening”. These products are designed to offer a glowing, radiant, and transparent look to the skin rather than actually lightening the pigment of the skin.
What do Korean “Whitening” products do?
Whitening skincare products, as mentioned before, are often skin brightening products. Hyperpigmentation, freckles, sun spots, and acne scars are all discolorations on the skin that we particularly don’t want on our face. K-Beauty products may include a vitamin C ingredient that can naturally brighten dull complexion - which may result in a “whiter”, even complexion.
These masks, creams, and serums aren’t formulated to strip your skin of its natural melanin but rather even out the skin tone for a bright and glowing complexion. Safe and natural ingredients are often used to target uneven skin tone and pigmentation for a clean and clear complexion that gives off a radiance.
You may also come across some makeup products that actually make your skin whiter, but rest assured that there is till no harmful bleaches or ingredients to achieve this effect. Most of the times, the “whitening” agent in these primers and face base products is the active SPF or sun protection that is included in the formula. Koreans are diligent with using sunscreen, so they are able to kill two birds with one stone since SPF ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide offer both protection from sun damage as well as a brighter complexion base for makeup.
“Whitening” MASK SHEETS You SHOULD Try:
If you were initally concerned about K-Beauty “whitening” products, rest assured that you will not be harming your skin or completely changing your skin color. 95% of the time you see the word “whitening” on the product, just know that you are probably looking at a brightening product. So if you suffer from uneven skin tone, pigmentation, etc. you might actually enjoy these types of products.
Until the next one,