Gerald Dewes: Skin Whitening Is Dangerous, Aggressively Marketed, Despite Companies Changing Marketing to Avoid Appearance of Racism

Frank Report is happy to announce that we have a new columnist. He is a well-known health foods producer and distributor, and a wellness authority: Gerald R. Dewes.

His products are consumed all over the world and include the famous Alvita Teas, as well as a line of superb syrups found in many favorite drinks, made with ingredients such as stevia, honey, pure cane sugar, and never with carcinogenic sweeteners. His coffee beans are consumed as coffee in many of the finest restaurants in the world, and his remarkable new baked corn chips have exploded on the market much as they explode on your taste buds.

Now the fine foods mogul has consented to write on health topics, based on his considerable trove of knowledge, not only about foods and supplements but how the industry works. His first topic is on a subject he feels strongly about – the misuse of skin whiteners by misinformed consumers.

Gerald R. Dewes, an expert on food and supplements.

By Gerald Dewes

Maybe things will change with the Black Lives Matter movement. But for years, one of the biggest trends in aesthetics has been skin lightening or bleaching.

The idea has been that lighter is more beautiful, more desirable. It is especially prevalent in Asia, and India in particular.

Let us skip past the racist notion that beauty is something that can improve with lightness, and instead look more precisely at the health issue.

Before doing so, I would like to say that it is not exclusively darker-skinned people who want to become lighter, but it is also quite true that lighter-skinned people often seek to look darker, buying tanning lotions and sitting out in the sun, risking skin cancer, to get a brownish tint to their skin.

For purposes of this article, I am addressing only the trend of darker-skinned people who want to become lighter- and who use certain products that contain dangerous chemicals to achieve their goal.

Unfortunately, the majority of chemicals in whiteners are harmful and, in many cases, deadly.  Another name for skin lightening is “bleaching” and bleaching your skin is never a healthy thing to do.

And just as people worldwide are addicted to tanning, which may or may not be healthy, there are many addicted to bleaching, which is never healthy.

Celebrities like Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Keri Hilson, and Lil Kim are said to be lightening their skin, for aesthetic purposes.  But many more, from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds, see “white is right” as a reason to lighten.

Beyonce bleaches her skin, apparently.

There may be a racist societal component in this.

A study in 2011 suggested that light-skinned black women receive shorter prison sentences than dark-skinned black women.

In 2015, another study found that white interviewers regarded light-skinned black and Hispanic job applicants as more intelligent than darker-skinned interviewees with the same qualifications.

skin bleaching celebrities
It is not just women who bleach. Sammy Sosa, the retired baseball player seems to be getting whiter by the day.

Cynthia Sims, of Southern Illinois University, found a gap in career opportunities between dark and light-skinned women in India, while a Seattle University study by Sonora Jha and Mara Adelman found that the chances for a dark-skinned Indian woman dating online were “nonexistent”.

In Bollywood, India’s version of Hollywood, the obsession with light -kinned actors has reached a fever pitch. One watching some of Bollywood’s movies would think they are using English or American White actors.

Many Bollywood actors are reputedly whitening their skin.

Gora gora rang: Why do Indians love fair skin so much? - YouTube

They may feel it is to their advantage. Studies have consistently shown that in the competitive market for jobs and marriage, lighter skin has advantages.

Hopefully, this will change with the ideas inculcated in the best ideals of the Black Lives Matter movement and perhaps we can achieve a day when the skin color you are born with is to be cherished and accepted without prejudice or any preconceived notions.

But change is usually slow, and at this moment there are countless women and men taking chemicals to lighten their skin. Many of them do not know that the ingredients and components used in skin whitening products are carcinogenic substances.

These so-called beauty products increase the risk of cancer and organ damage and “should be avoided at all costs,” as the UK’s Local Government Association reported. Even over-the-counter skin-lightening creams are “like paint stripper,” according to a UK Local Government public health alert.

The use of lightening chemicals leads to long term health issues. In many cases, irresponsible manufactures ignore the possible death sentence they sell.  This is not unlike the tobacco industry, but, at least in America, Big Tobacco is required to put a warning label on their death-causing product.

Image result for skin bleaching side effects pictures | Lighten ...

Here is a list of some chemicals found in skin lighteners.

Mercury (element) - Wikipedia
Do you really think that mercury is going to be good for your health?

 Mercury: Mercury is toxic. It can cause kidney failure and damage to the nervous system. It is an unregulated ingredient in most countries. Ironic –we take great pains to avoid mercury in our food, yet mercury is, in fact, present in skin lightening products and easily absorbed by the skin.

Steroids: (or corticosteroids) in skin-care products cause vasoconstriction or thinning of the blood vessels. This causes less blood to flow to your skin to give it a pale look. However, this can affect blood pressure levels, blood sugar levels, cause depression and headaches. It also thins the skin so it reduces melanin, which actually causes sensitivity to sun and UV rays. It can cause skin cancer.

BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) and BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole):

These ingredients are used in small amounts as preservatives in food. They are used more readily in skin whiteners Both are anticipated carcinogenic substances and proven to cause animal cancer, especially above minimal limits.

Dangerous Side Effects Of Hydroquinone In Skin Whitening Products ...
There can be dangerous side effects from the use of hydroquinone.

Hydroquinone. The FDA proposed banning this skin lightener for years. In Europe, the use of Hydroquinone has been banned for use in skin lightening products since 2001. Its use in skin lightening has been associated with leukoderma-en-confetti, a condition that is characterized by confetti-like depigmented areas of the skin, and ochronosis. Renal adenomas and leukemia occurred in animal experiments indicating the nephrotoxicity and carcinogenic properties of the substance.


This is a toxic substance used to emulsify skin creams and can contaminate cosmetics. It is unregulated in most countries. Exposure to large amounts of dioxane can cause kidney and liver damage.

Constant use of skin lightening products has been proven to cause cell mutation and damage due to the absorption by the skin. These products also cause the production of free radical cells in your body that causes cancer.

While cancer may be the final result, along the way, organ failure, liver damage, brain damage, psychosis, depression, blood sugar irregularity, etc. can be acquired immediately.  Many people who take skin whiteners have found that, while they do not get any fell disease, they just do not feel well. This may because of the harmful ingredients in the products that are inimical to well being and good skin health.

So what drives the manufacturing of these harmful products?

Money obviously  The use of skin lighteners is big business, projected to be $31 billion by 2023, according to Global Industry Analysts, and fueled primarily by the middle-class growth in the pacific Asia region.

The list of companies that manufacture skin bleaching and lightening creams with harmful ingredients is not limited to no-names either.

Shiseido’s:  line includes whitening serums and bleaching creams. Also included is a power brightening mask, which is supposed to guarantee “deep-penetrating whitening.”

Consumer Health Digest revealed the active melanin destruction and prevention ingredient in Shiseido’s exclusive 4MSK blend may inhibit melanin production.

Monopotassium salt, an ingredient in White Lucent’s secret formula, is also used as a pesticide, according to an EPA.

Lancôme Blanc Expert Ultimate Brightening Hydrating Cream reviews ...

Lancome: The Blanc Expert product line by Lancome has several bleaching products. According to Lancome’s website, Blanc Expert “features the latest brightening technology designed to regulate melanin production and awaken the luminosity of the skin.”

The Lancome proprietary blend called Melanolyser™ contains a yeast extract that dissolves and prevents the formation of the melanin that cause skin pigmentation and darkening. Kojic Acid Dipalmitate is another ingredient used in Blanc Expert products and is known for its skin-whitening effects. The International Journal of Molecular Sciences published a report in 2012 revealing that exposure can lead to a disrupting effect on thyroid metabolism and can possibly be a carcinogen.

Clinique Even Better Skintone Correcting Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20


Clinque claims to even skin tone by diminishing dark spots with its Even Better skin-bleaching products. An active ingredient in Even Better products is dimethoxytolyl propylresorcinol. This ingredient is known to inhibit tyrosinase, which is the enzyme in skin that produces melanin.

Avon Anew "luminosity" Ultra Advanced Skin Brightener Spf15 1 Oz.

Avon: The Avon advanced skin-care product line, Anew, has a collection of skin-brightening products called Luminosity. According to Avon’s website, the moisturizer and serum-bleaching systems are supposed to reverse the signs of aging by diminishing skin darkening that occurs with age.

The Luminosity line has several ingredients with known potential side effects ranging from cancer to immunotoxicity. Environmental Working Group reports the active ingredient Octinoxate has startling possible side effects including: biochemical or cellular level changes, developmental/reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, allergies/immunotoxicity, and organ system toxicity.

Fashion Fair Vantex Skin Bleaching Creme 2 Oz.: Beauty

Fashion Fair: Fashion Fair, a Black-owned cosmetics company, has an entire line consisting of bleaching creams and dark spot removers called Vantex. An advertisement for Vantex Bleaching Cream promises to help “improve skin clarity.”

The active ingredient in most Vantex products is Benzene 1, which is a flammable chemical also found in cigarettes. Benzene has been banned in several countries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the major effect of Benzene exposure for a year or more is on the blood. Benzene can cause harmful effects on the bone marrow, and it could lead to a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia. It may also cause excessive bleeding and affect the immune system, increasing the chance of infection.


L’Oreal: L’Oreal claims 23 percent of global skin-care sales, making it the top-selling skin-care and cosmetics brand in the world. According to its website, the White Perfect skin-whitening product line is “enriched with Tourmaline Gemstone and vitamin C, which has proven action against melanin synthesis.

Another active ingredient, Octocrylene, penetrates the skin and acts as a photosensitizer. This results in an increased production of free radicals under exposure to sunlight.

A 2010 study conducted by researchers from Centre Hospitalier Universitaire has shown that indirect DNA damage can be a result of prolonged exposure to Octocrylene. An increased concentration of free radicals can possibly lead to skin cancer.

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 15

Aveeno: Aveeno has a skin-lightening product line called Positively Radiant. The moisturizers and skin toners are marketed to promote a natural skin-bleaching experience. Aveeno’s website states that users will achieve “more flawless radiance.”

Although Aveeno products are advertised as a natural solution to skincare, their complete ingredient lists would prove otherwise. For example, one ingredient in the Positively Radiant Brightening Cleansing Wash is a topical antiseptic called Benzalkonium Chloride. reports that side effects of exposure to this chemical include severe allergic reactions (rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips or tongue), infection, severe or persistent irritation, redness, pain, or swelling.

The dangerous effects of skin lightening creams | Celebrating ...

Now it is true that some companies that sell skin whiteners are feeling the pinch of equating their marketing of products as akin to the marketing racism. L’Oréal al announced it will remove words like “whitening” from its products.

Unilever chose to rename their “Fair and Lovely” skin-lightening cream removing the word “fair.”

Johnson & Johnson said it would stop selling some Neutrogena and Clean & Clear products, advertised as dark-spot reducers in Asia and the Middle East.

But the products, even with new names, are still poisonous.

After pressure from Minnesota public-health and environmental activists, Amazon removed more than a dozen skin-lightening products with toxic levels of mercury off its website.  But as long as there is demand, the products will be sold on platforms other than Amazon.

On a recent trip to the Philippines, I observed whiteners being sold in corner markets, convenience stores, street carts as well as the large departments and drug stores. Most products had labels listing ingredients known to be harmful. Others were devoid of labeling.

As the market grows in tandem with the desire to maintain a light complexion, there will be people who will choose their notion of beauty and use the magical thinking – known to many tobacco smokers  – that they alone won’t get sick from the disease-producing products they consume.

How many people who wound up with lung cancer employed that brand of magical thinking up until the day of their diagnosis? People, who fooled themselves into believing that the cancer-producing chemicals in the products they consumed would only affect others, never them.

It is the same with skin whiteners.

Of course, you can’t forcibly stop people from using it, just like you can’t stop people from smoking or using drugs, try though you may.

The best we can do is inform and educate. I make no comment on whether it is desirable to be darker or lighter than the skin you were born with, but, the one overriding issue is that most of the products that accomplish true lightening are dangerous to long term health.

Maybe, you might just consider the fact that light or dark or in between, you are simply better off as you are.

About the author

Gerald Dewes

Gerald Dewes is the editor of the 'Finance' section of

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3 years ago


Brilliant piece, it belongs in the New Yorker.

I am looking forward to your next piece!

3 years ago

Mr. Dewes,

Excellent article! Great anthropological essay/report on society and health.

The fact that African Americans as well as other races feel the pressure, and need too whiten their skin speaks volumes about the inherent prejudice of society at large.

It’s akin to the peoples of Asian dissent changing their eye lids to appear more Caucasian.

Once again excellent article. Thank you!

Please keep writing for the Frank Report!!!!

3 years ago

White is [redacted] beautiful.

It is not “racist” to point that out.


That is why “Black Lives Matters” 🤢🤮are so whiny and attacking [redacted] statues.

They don’t care about Muslim and Turkish slavers of Africans, before, during, and after some white nations.

They don’t mind Mexicans being descendants of the first European slavers of Africans, themselves occupied by Muslim filth who enslaved blacks first.

While white people statues and culture are being destroyed by pure evil jealous filth, the scumbag Turks in occupied Constantinople have turned the Hagia Sofia Byzantine Greek Orthodox Church into a dirty mosque.


3 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

You are a wonderful human being!!!!!

Have you ever considered becoming fertilizer or donating your organ pre-death?

3 years ago

Organs pre-death not organ “ “

3 years ago

There isn’t much information on Dewes online. LOL

The Indian caste system is very influential in skin lightening, as the lower castes generally have darker skin. LOL

Lighter skin enhances facial expressions on film, so anybody in front of a camera has an incentive to use these products. LOL

Where is the outrage regarding MLM scams, including Amway, which scam 10s of millions of new people every year, even though they have done nothing stupid like put carcinogenic chemicals on/in their bodies? LOL

3 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

—even though they have done nothing stupid like put carcinogenic chemicals on/in their bodies? LOL

Feeling indirect social pressure from society is not nearly as “stupid” than attempting to get rich quick, predicated on deceiving family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances into buying over priced crappy products, via MLMS…..

Not mention, the stupidity of people filling up their garage with products they can’t not sell and have acquired thousands of dollars in debt doing so.

Who are the idiots and who are the person who’s just want too belong?

3 years ago

People not person

3 years ago

Actually person is correct

3 years ago

Perhaps they weren’t aware they were putting carcinogenic chemicals on/in their bodies. LOL

Or perhaps they decided to accept the risk instead of being poorer and blacker. LOL

You obviously don’t have a clue how MLM scams work, most people are not sold the “get rich quick” story and they believe the MLM scam is legitimate, so there is no deception involved. They simply aren’t aware their upline is lying to them. LOL


3 years ago

Welcome to the FR family, Mr. Dewes.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

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