In the never-ending search for milky white skin, a new product has been doing the rounds in Thailand in recent weeks – ‘Chlorine Soap’.
The main active ingredient in this latest product is calcium hypochlorite, which is commonly used to disinfect swimming pools and for water treatment. The soap’s manufacturers claim that it kills bacteria on the skin and whitens skin in 1-2 weeks.
Scientists have already raised questions as to the safety of the product, which is being sold on Facebook and various websites.
Dr. Nopadol Nopakun, President of the Dermatological Society of Thailand, said this and many other whitening product makers are guilty of misleading would-be customers as, “skin color is deep beneath the epidermis – using soaps or scrubs cannot lighten naturally-dark skin tones”.
Kasetsart University’s Dr. Weerachai Phutdhawong described the product as “very dangerous”, adding that it could cause damage cause damage to the eyes and skin.
He called for the new ‘Chlorine Soap’ to be taken off the market.
In Thailand, and many other Asian countries, white skin is considered more beautiful than dark skin, and many women will go to great lengths to attain it, often to the detriment of their own health. Many products have been found to contain mercury, and other dangerous substances.
Palangpon Kongsaeree, associate professor at the Department of Chemistry at Mahidol University told Asian Correspondent earlier this year that the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) in Thailand has estimated that around 20 percent of all whitening products contain dangerous toxins. Although he added that, “Personally, I think this figure is underestimated as the preliminary screening is not very effective.”
He said dangerous chemicals are used in whitening products because nothing else works. “Non-dangerous products like those counter brands are not effective and, if any, would take a lot longer time to see the whitening effect,” he said.
Nevertheless, Thailand’s skin whitening craze shows no sign of abating as whitening products, whether approved or not, continue to fly off the shelves. In an article for Asian Correspondent in 2012, popular Thai blogger Kaewmala wrote:
Many Thai women shun sunlight like vampires and cover themselves with sun-blocking, whitening products, so much so that doctors complain about young Thai women’s vitamin D deficiency. They go to great length to make their skin lighter. Whitening lotion, whitening deodorant, whitening pills, whitening injection, whitening laser–all promised to make a woman skin ‘white’, bright and glowing. Many cosmetic products contain mercury and other harmful ingredients but that rarely stops Thai women wanting to be fair and beautiful.