Pores and skin-whitening merchandise discover one other largely unregulated market on social media

Skin-whitening products find another largely unregulated marketplace on social media


This story is part of ‘White lies’, a series by CNN’s As Equals investigating skin whitening practices worldwide to expose the underlying drivers of colorism, the industry that profits from it and the cost to individuals and communities. For information about how CNN As Equals is funded and more, check out our FAQs.

Once primarily sold in markets and beauty stores, skin-lightening products have exploded in their availability online and today, they are pervasive on every major social media platform.

On Facebook and Instagram, vendors hawk creams and serums that promise lighter skin yet offer scant information about the products themselves, while on YouTube and TikTok you can find thousands of tutorials by people promoting potent products or home remedies without qualifications that support their claims. On TikTok alone, the hashtag #skinwhitening has over 254 million views, while #skinlightening has another 62 million.

“Social media has become the most powerful tool right now for…