I don’t know where the word “toning” comes from, but I can imagine that it means to “EVEN one’s skinTONE” as we have come to define it in our African beauty lexicon.
Now with that explained, what is the difference between “toning” one’s complexion and “bleaching” it? I was inspired to write this article after reading the bleaching article on BellaNaija and reading the comments.
In Layman’s term, “Toning” ideally means using products to “even” one’s complexion, while bleaching means to “change” one’s natural birth color.
As black woman, Hyperpigmentation (and often times Hypopigmenation) is one of our BIGGEST skincare problems. Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of an area of skin caused by increased melanin, this can be caused by excessive exposure to sunlight, misuse of products or genetic disorders. This is often described as patches of darker skin scattered all over the face, chest or body.
So where does one draw the line between wanting to “even” their skintone as opposed to “Changing” it??
Most people that want to tone their skin are doing so in the hopes of having a more even uniform skin tone, so they do this by using fade creams for a short amount of time, while those that chose to bleach continue using items like fade cream for long period of time with the hopes of completely altering their color. The issue of bleaching in the black community and African continent is a big one because bleaching one’s skin poses health dangers in the long run. The choice to partake in such a dangerous skincare behavior is up to the individual, however it is important that we @ myHairmyBeautyNigeria stress that using harmful chemicals like; Hydroquinone, Mercury, and Steroids, often found in MOST bleaching creams is TERRIBLE for the skin. If you are doing so and are not aware of the dangers of these products, please STOP for the sake of your health and skin.
WHY ARE BLEACHING PRODUCTS DANGEROUS?
Our skin is the largest organ in our body, and one of the many functions of the skin is Absorption. It does this through the cells, hair follicles and sebaceous glands. When we topically apply products to our skin, our skin absorbs these products (depending on the products molecular structure); when these products are absorbed, they enter our blood streams. Research shows that chemicals like Hydroquinone, Mercury and Steroids are carcinogenic (cancer causing), so by applying these products to our skin, we are exposing ourselves to carcinogens. More over, research shows that using Hydroquinone over a long period of time causes what is known as Ochronosis or the redarkening of treated areas, while Steroids have been known to thin the skin.
I DON’T WANT TO BLEACH, BUT I WANT TO EVEN MY SKIN, WHAT DO I DO?
An even skintone is achieveable when we pay ATTENTION to our skin. This means using sun protection when we know we will be exposed to the sun. The no.1 cause of skin damage, aging, and damages to the elastin and collagen is Sun exposure, and yes even though we are black women, we STILL NEED sunscreen. So use sunscreen (SPF 30) 30 minutes before we expose ourselves to sunlight.
To achieve an even skin tone we can also help speed up our skin’s turnover rates by using chemical exfoliants like Alpha Hydroxy and Vitamin A. We will go deeper into this in a follow-up article, but if you have any questions you can email us (myHairmyBeauty@yahoo.com)
But remember, before topically treating any pigmentation issues, you should FIRST visit a dermatologist to get an appropriate diagnosis of the cause of your pigmenation issues!