The number of skin whitening products has increased and many people are using them without proper information or knowledge. The companies that manufacture these products play on the feelings of the people in Asian countries. The reality is that these skin whitening products have steadily increased because the society in Pakistan prefers fair skin over a dark complexion. The reason for it is not ego or advertisements, but rather inherent instincts. Historically, in Pakistan, rich families spend time indoors, in their air conditioned homes or offices, with little need to work in the hot sun, making their skin fairer. While the poor families have to work or travel on foot, and cannot afford the luxury of staying home, this exposure to constant sun tans their complexion. It is for this reason that fair skin is desired as it exhibits opulence.

The situation is completely opposite in Western countries, where it is cloudy for most part of the year. There, it is the middle class that is deprived of sunshine and has fair complexion. While the rich can afford to go on vacations to sunny places, with beaches, which gives them time in the sun to get tanned. That's why tanned skin tone is more desirable there,  as it exhibits opulence. In Western countries, the products advertised are to help the consumer get tanned or color their skin darker.

It is proof that demand is the essence of business and free market, where the demand drives the wheels of invention in every society. Therefore rather than denigrating the manufacturers of skin whitening products, the government and media can demand that skin care products should register with the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) and prove their claims of skin whitening with scientific data. If they cannot prove that, than these products should be registered under the ‘Herbal' category, with clear indication on the product packing.

ENGR SHAHRYAR KHAN BASEER,

Peshawar, November 5.