Why A Skin-Whitening Selfie Camera Is A Hit In China

lighterWhen did social media become a stage for broadcasting photo after photo of your own face? I know I sound all Clint Eastwood “Get Off My Lawn” right now, but I can’t count how many times I’ve clicked into someone’s Instagram account only to see an endless stream of selfies — the series of headshots in one place sort of feels like a museum, if it was devoted to narcissism instead of classicism. In Asia, the need to take and post selfies online is even more eyeroll-inducing, because it usually comes with a minor dose of prejudice: quite a few Asian women consider “light skin” as the ideal skin tone, and dark skin is associated with ugliness, so they do everything they can to appear as white as possible.

Quartz has an interesting (and sad) story of women in China paying up to US$1,000 for a Casio “magic selfie” camera that can “slim” the face and “lighten” the skin tone of anyone. The camera’s official name is Exilim TR, but it’s mostly known as ”zipai shenqi” in China, which means ”Godly tool for selfies.” Seriously.

In a video that accompanied the Quartz piece, various Chinese women express their love of the selfie camera, saying vapid things like “yeah, it’s true that you can edit a selfie with apps and software, but this camera does it automatically.”

The notion of “white = beautiful” is absurd, and it has for centuries oppressed those with dark skin. Recently, a group of Southeast Asian women in the US have begun fighting back, in the form of an online movement, but Asia can be a bit behind when it comes to progressivism. Some women in Asia, especially China and in Southeast Asia, go to great lengths to stay as white as possible, resorting to face masks that make them look like a Luchador, skin-whitening face creams that do nothing, and bad plastic surgery.

Casio’s skin lightening shtick isn’t new. LG phones have had a “beautifying selfie” mode, which does the exact same thing, for years. Here’s me trying the filter on the LG G4.


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Products to lighten skin have limited effects: physician

Skin color is mainly determined by genetics and applying skin lightening or whitening products would only help to recover a person’s original skin tone, so people should not overestimate their effects, a dermatologist said yesterday.

As a large number of women in Taiwan want to have a lighter skin tone, many products have been produced claiming to have skin lightening effects, Taipei Chang Gung Memorial Hospital dermatologist Huang Yu-huei (黃毓惠) said, adding: “It is impossible for people with dark skin to turn into ‘snow white’ by using these products.”

She said the ingredients used in most skin lightening products can only reduce melanin production and concentration in skin, but cannot make skin lighter than its original color.

Products with more or higher concentrations of whitening agents might not achieve better results, because skin has a limit to how much it can absorb and products with higher concentrations cannot be effectively absorbed, irritating or damaging skin, which can cause redness, itching or tingling sensations, Huang said.

“For facial creams, an amount about the size of a soybean applied twice a day would be enough,” she said, adding that skin lightening facial cleansers do not provide better or faster whitening when used several times a day, because they are washed off, and frequent washing of the face could even cause skin to become too dry.

Applying a skin lightening facial mask immediately after suffering a sunburn could also irritate injured skin, Huang said, adding that people with sensitive skin might even suffer from itchiness or swelling.

Food and Drug Administration Division of Medical Devices and Cosmetics section chief Hung Kuo-teng (洪國登) said the Ministry of Health and Welfare has only approved 13 types of skin lightening ingredients, most of which only deter melanin production and reduce the concentration of melanin already in the skin.

Hung advised consumers to carefully look at skin lightening products’ ingredients before making a purchase to avoid possible allergic reactions, to avoid applying such products on inflamed skin and to remember to take measures to protect against exposure to the sun.

From – http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2016/03/31/2003642859

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