In Asia, pearlescent and translucent white skin has commonly been regarded as a precondition for beauty. In this post, we look at a brief history of skin whitening, as well as outline some methods to get milky white skin.
Skin Whitening: A Brief Look
Many Asians who try to achieve paler skin often suffer from the misconception that they are trying to obtain a more western appearance. A common counter argument however, is that Asia’s obsession with skin colour stems from historical class divisions where only the aristocracy had pale skin. While this is true, the value of pale skin extends all the way back to the Japanese Edo period, where it was considered a woman’s moral duty was to apply white power to her face.
Current perceptions of beauty in Asia are perhaps an extension of the beliefs already deeply embedded in history and culture. In fact, there is a traditional Chinese saying that ‘one white covers up three uglinesses’. What this means is that if a woman has other physical flaws, these are ignored if she has white skin.
Natural Remedies for Paler Skin:
1) Milk Facial – Used by former Miss Korea Son Tae Young
- Mix flour and milk together in a two-to-one ratio. i.e. if you use 2 tablespoons of flour, mix this with 1 tablespoon of milk
- Cut out a piece of gauze large enough to fit your face (with holes for the eyes and mouth)
- Spread the ‘milk facial’ evenly over the gauze, and place on your face for 15 minutes
- Rinse off
Tip: if you don’t have the time to do this, you can try a milk ‘toner’ instead. Steps: 1) soak a cotton pad with milk, 2) wipe your face with the cotton pad, 3) leave on for 10 minutes or until your face is no longer wet to touch. 4) Rinse off.
Yogurt masks may sound weird, but they actually do work. Why? because yogurt contains probiotics (active cultures) which are effective for soothing skin irritations and acne. The lactic acid in yogurt also helps to get rid of dead skin cells and shrink pores.
If a yogurt mask is used for a long period of time, it will subtly lighten and even out your skin tone.
A tablespoon of yoghurt should be enough to cover your entire face. Spread the yogurt evenly on your face with a cotton pad or an old foundation brush (don’t your fingers!). Leave it on for 10-20 minutes until the mask has dried. Rinse off with warm water.
Although there are no limits on the type of yogurt you can use, I would recommend one with a thicker texture, simply to avoid dripping and mess.
Remember those weird Asians who carry umbrellas on a perfectly sunny day. Well, you’re now going to become one of them. Shade is your friend on the quest for whiter skin.
4) Rice water
Washing your face with rice water can make your skin whiter and more transparent. This is because rice contains antioxidants which protect our skin from the sun.
Rice water is made by soaking uncooked rice with..well…water. It is the same process as washing your rice before you cook it; except, instead of tipping the water down the drain, you’re going to use it to wash your face.
Note that the above remedies work best if you have pre-cleansed your skin. And always remember to moisturise after the treatments.
Skincare products that claim to whiten your skin can often be frustrating to use because the results are often temporary, or non-existent. However, I have yet to encounter one that’s made my skin darker haha (so nothing to lose right?).
This one might seem obvious but it hardly seems to be mentioned in relation to whitening. Choose a good sunscreen that is SPF 30+ because this will block out 97% of the suns rays; especially those nasty UVA rays which darken the skin. However there is no need to go overboard and pay extra for an SPF 50+ sunscreen, because this provides only 1% more protection than SPF 30+.
There are some really great masks out there for both whitening and brightening the skin. Masks tend to have an immediate effect on your complexion because they are soaked in serum, giving your skin instant hydration. However, whether or not they have any lasting benefits is contentious. Two Asian brands you should check out are My Beauty Diary and Silk Whitia.
Exfoliation can immediately brighten the skin and create the illusion of whiter skin because it removes dead skin cells. You should try to exfoliate no more than twice a week.
If you have sensitive skin, I would recommend a peeling scrub. Two of the best peeling scrubs out there are Laneige’s Multiberry peeling pack (Korean) and Cure Natural Aqua Gel (Japanese). I’ll quickly demonstrate how each of these work.
Below is Laneige’s Multiberry Peeling Pack on my hands. You apply it on dry skin and rub it until dead skin comes off (pic 3). Cure Aqua gel works exactly the same way.
Below is My Beauty Diary’s Vanilla Souffle Face Scrub (China). It is similar to Laneige and Cure, but the formula is foamy as oppose to gel-like.
If your skin is a bit tougher, then a sugar scrub or a granulated scrub is the way to go. However, tough skin doesn’t mean that you should damage it with the harshest scrub available.
The scrubs below are in order of most rough to least rough. I’ll briefly explain the differences:
- Sugar scrubs – are the most harsh on your skin because of the size of the sugar granules. I would recommend using these only once a week. Because sugar is a natural exfoliator your skin will feel super smooth and literally glow afterwards. In the picture is Skinfood’s Black Sugar Mask Wash Off.
- Gel scrubs – contain small micro particles and well as larger ones (although no where near the size of sugar scrubs). Because they are a gel formula, they can often be drying on your skin. In the picture is Tony Moly’s EggPore Blackhead Out Oil Gel
- Cream scrubs – similar to gel scrubs but they are much less drying. In the picture is Shiseido Pure Deep Cleansing Foam.
Hmm….this post seems to be getting too long….maybe I should stop here haha. Basically what you need to bear in mind is that serums are often on the expensive side. You pay a lot for very little and opinions on their effectiveness are divided. Personally, I don’t really see the need for serums until a later stage in life.
If you want more info about the brands mentioned or where you can get them, shoot us an email, or comment below!