From darkening of the private parts to sagging vaginas due to loss of elasticity—these are the harsh realities which many women face. It’s a problem that make self-conscious women feel insecure and uncomfortable with their partners or spouses, and some are prepared to go to any lengths to correct it. Men, it seems, are no different as they, too, are gravitating to products that promises to lighten the colour of their penis, scrotum, anus and underarm.
The hottest rage for lightening the vagina, breast, nipple, anus, underarms, penis and scrotum is Pink Privates Intimate Area Lightening Cream, which is not sold in pharmacies or cosmetic shops but online, through www.alamodett.com Listed at a reduced price of TT$299.99 for a one-ounce bottle, the product which is made in America, promises to rid skin discolourations in eight weeks.
The Web site, pinkprivates.org, says its product does not contain dangerous ingredients such as hydroquinone, mercury or steroids. Throngs of people, both men and women, have been purchasing the product through bank deposits at FC branches and PayPal, which allows payments and money transfers via the Internet. The product is delivered to the customer within two working days.
Reviews from three customers who purchased the product on Amazon.com for US$24.98 showed mixed reviews. Two customers said they noticed a slight change in skin tone, while another described it as just a moisturiser. This, however, has not stopped people from demanding the bleaching agent or a host of others on the market.
‘Bleaching cream a temporary solution’
Esther Primus, manager of Living Lovelly, a weight-management, body-sculpting and aesthetic centre in Curepe, is advising women not to use bleaching agents on their private parts. Bleaching products have been around for years, Primus said, and it is highly popular with women. She, however, said, “Bleaching cream is only a temporary solution. There are other ways to lighten your skin, one of them is with machines.”
Primus said a woman’s vagina becomes discoloured/darker due to constant shaving. “Also depending on the type of soap you use your vagina becomes darker,” said Primus, a licensed practical nurse. As the vulva loses its elasticity and collagen, Primus said the skin also becomes discoloured. She recommended baking soda to make skin tones clear.
Primus also suggested simpler and more effective ways—the use of vitamins, minerals or non invasive surgery—to tighten and lighten the skin.
Kalloo: It’s a mental thing
Obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Sherene Kalloo said while bleaching agents contain different ingredients, two in particular—mercury and hydroquinone—are harmful and can cause cancers. “I would not recommend a patient use a product that contains those ingredients.” If a patient thinks they have dark areas that need to be whitened, Kalloo advised that they visit a doctor to ensure they do not have a pre-existing medical problem.
Kalloo said erythrasma (a skin disease that causes brown, scaly skin patch), genetic factors, yeast infections and Addison’s disease can cause darkening of the skin. She urged people with discoloured skin not to buy and use creams, sprays or gels over the counter or online since they may have some pre-existing condition and may cause themselves more harm than good. In the past, Kalloo said people used lactic acid, a peeling agent.
“I think it is more of a mental thing...Some people would want to change, not for themselves but their partners...for satisfaction otherwise. I have been hearing people more and more asking about the use of bleaching agents, and what do I think about it.” Asked if she would advise her patients to use bleaching creams, Kalloo said once the product has no properties to harm the consumer and will help a couple improve their relationship and oneself “basically there is no harm in it being used.”
Bleaching of private parts a constitutional right
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said while it would be difficult to police everything that enters the country, he was more concerned about consumers not reading the labels of health products. “The most we can do is to educate and inform the public. We can’t seize and apprehend because then we will be going against certain rules and regulations of trade. At the end of the day, when you look at what is happening, the systems of these things and everything need a law to change it.”
Khan said if people want to bleach their private parts “to make it look whatever colour, that is their right according to our Constitution. If someone choses to have their private parts bleached, no matter what I say they will still do that.” Khan said online purchases must pass through Customs and Excise. “People have to take responsibility for themselves,” he said.
If you must bleach private parts:
• Visit a doctor to ensure you do not have a pre-existing medical problem
• Make sure that you find a product that will work safely and effectively
• Make sure that you find a product that does not use any potentially dangerous ingredients such as hydroquinone
Some lightening creams listed on the Internet:
Pink Privates, Pink Daisy, Intilight, Secret Brights, Dr Pinks, South Beach Gel, Gentle Intimate Lightening Cream, Biofade Intimate Lightening Cream