Skin bleaching has been around for centuries. It first came to light as a practice of ancient Persian farmers. They would make a homemade bleaching cream, containing a pure concentration of hydroquinone, and apply it to achieve a clean and delicate appearance. In modern times, skin bleaching is very prevalent in certain communities across the world.
In the United States, Canada and Europe, skin bleaching creams, lotions and treatments are mainly used to improve the appearance of dark skin blotches, moles, freckles, scars and hyper-pigmentation. These problems can show up as dark spots and patches on the skin. Many people find these dark colored blemishes to be either annoying or embarrassing. As a solution, most people use skin lightening preparations to fix these issues.
A more controversial use of over the counter skin lightening preparations is trying to make the overall appearance of the skin a lighter shade. For example, a certain percentage of people in the African American community use skin lighten creams for the sole purpose of changing their skin tone to a lighter color. In Asia and India, having a lighter skin tone is seen as very desirable and skin lightening products are widely popular. This is also the case in parts of Africa and South America.