Many toothpaste makers also sell over-the-counter teeth whitening strips to help make your smile dazzle. If you have severe discoloration, these strips may not give you the results you're after. That's when professional teeth whitening may cross your mind, so here are some things you should know.
Your teeth are equipped with an enamel surface that's designed to protect your teeth from the effects of coffee, smoking, wine, and aging. Over the years though, your enamel begins to wear down so it becomes more transparent, and the yellowish color of dentin (your tooth's core) begins to show through. Also with time, tiny cracks form in the enamel that allows debris and stains to sink in, which adds to the dull, grayish color.
When you have your teeth professionally whitened, the stains and debris are removed but the cracks will still remain. That means eventually your teeth will need to be whitened again to get that same desired white smile. People choose this option instead of over-the-counter whitening products because dentists have access to high-concentration peroxide gel, so you can achieve better results in a shorter amount of time. To find out what the risks of teeth whitening are read more
Whitening products are a fast-growing segment of the beauty industry in Asia, the Middle East and Africa; for many people, having light, porcelain-like skin is considered ideal. While I understand that every culture has different concepts of beauty, it saddens me to think about the number of women who inevitably think something's wrong with their dark skin. It's easy to understand why Sweetstrawberry, who lives in Korea, feels so frustrated by the narrow ideals she encounters at school.
As globalization spreads, this issue isn't likely to go away anytime soon. While some of the controversy can be attributed to cultural differences—after all, Caucasian people get spray-on tans!—you can't argue with the potential danger of certain whitening products. Those that contain hydroquinone and other mercury-based products can lead to skin blisters and burns (and, ironically, darkening). In some cases, they can lead to nerve damage and even death.
Of course, not all whitening products are worrisome. Some aren't terribly far from what you'd find in your average American Walgreens; they're just sold under a different name. These products are safe because they're not about bleaching the skin; instead, they aim to even out the complexion and protect against age spots. Yet much of the marketing language implies that dark skin is a disorder that needs to be cured. An ad for Olay White Radiance, for instance, "fights the five signs of skin darkening." Pond's just launched a White Beauty Detox product line in India last month. And then there's a Fair & Lovely commercial, whose heroine shows that without the whitening cream, she'd be a jobless, dateless loser. To see it, read more