July 19, 2022 – Skin whitening products are popular on social media, with the hashtag #skinwhitening on TikTok alone garnering more than 250 million views. This has prompted concerns about the potential harms of these unregulated products, according to a June 22, 2022, CNN article.
The products promote the colorist idea that lighter skin colors are superior to darker ones—and may also contain dangerous ingredients such as hydroquinone and mercury, said researchers quoted in the article.
Amanda Raffoul, a postdoctoral researcher with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s research incubator STRIPED, is studying the way skin whitening products are promoted on TikTok and also plans to study whether Google is effectively implementing its new policy on restricting colorist advertisements. Raffoul told CNN that she hopes that Google and social media companies will start regulating user-generated content about skin whitening much like they do other potentially harmful content such as hate speech and the promotion of disordered eating behaviors.