Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Teo

Skin Bleaching

  • Christopher A. D. Charles
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_285


Skin bleaching is not only a controversial and global practice but also an old one. The Ancient Egyptians and Greeks used white lead on their skin, as did the Japanese Geishas in recent history. Skin bleaching occurred in medieval Europe and the European Colonies in Africa and the Caribbean; it was practiced in the United States in the early 1900s. It still exists today in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region. People of all ages, races, ethnicities, genders, social classes, incomes, and education levels lighten their complexion (Blay, 2007; Charles, 2010).


Skin bleaching refers to people’s use of homemade, cosmetic, or dermatological products over time to remove the melanin from the skin. This process which is also known as skin whitening, skin lightening, and skin toning can be done formally by a dermatologist or informallyby nondoctors. People who bleach may do so for a duration of only...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the West IndiesMonaJamaica