Skin Whitening Lotions in Japan
By Grace Buchele Mineta
On November 1, 2014
Although skin tone varies drastically depending on your racial background (along with time spent in direct sunlight with or without sunscreen), much of the Asian world seems to have an preference for light skin.
I’ve heard bihaku (美白, literally means “beautiful white”) used to describe skin that is beautifully pale and blemish-free in Japan. Since learning the term, I’ve see this marketing term on ads and beauty product in our local pharmacy.
Growing up in Texas, most the people I knew spent their summers by the poolside, working on that perfect tan. Japan is a little bit different.
My husband and I used to just buy whatever facial lotion was on sale. Neither of us realized the prevalence of whitening cream in facial lotions until the third time in a row where we ended up with sometime to make us more pale.
Now I specifically seek out a lotion without a whitening additive.
When I asked my husband about it, he said many people believe “色の白いは七難隠す,” which is an old Japanese saying that “white skin covers seven flaws,” or ‘even if you have unattractive features, as long as you are pale, you can still be beautiful.’
What do you think of the Japanese obsession with white skin?