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Bleaching of skin

Skin whitening is the practice of using substances, mixtures, or physical treatments to lighten skin color. Skin whitening treatments work by reducing the content of melanin of the skin. Many agents have been shown to be effective in skin whitening; some have beneficial side effects (e.g.: are antioxidants, nutrients, or decrease the risk of some types of cancer); some are a significant risk to health (for example, those containing mercury).

 

Bihaku (美白) is a Japanese marketing term meaning “beautifully white” which was first coined in the 1990s with the emergence of skin whitening products and cosmetics. The products are mostly aimed as a facial treatment rather than the whole body.

Discrimination based on skin color, also known as colorism or shadeism, is a form of prejudice or discrimination in which people are treated differently based on the social meanings attached to skin color.

Colorism, a term coined by Alice Walker in 1982, is not a synonym of racism. “Race” depends on multiple factors (including ancestry); therefore, racial categorization does not solely rely on skin color. Skin color is only one mechanism used to assign individuals to a racial category, but race is the set of beliefs and assumptions assigned to that category. Racism is the dependence of social status on the social meaning attached to race; colorism is the dependence of social status on skin color alone. In order for a form of discrimination to be considered colorism, differential treatment must not result from racial categorization, but from the social values associated with skin color. A 2015 study, for example, finds that among African Americans, skin color differences are associated with perceptions of discrimination from whites and other African Americans.