Skin Whitening in the Philippines | Why are Filipinos Addicted to Skin Whitening and Skin Whiteners?

Skin whitening Philippines is a google search term that propelled many Youtube videos to viral status. It goes without saying that it seems like Filipinos are addicted to skin whitening, or are they?

Fair warning, I don't beat around the bush so unless you're ready for the truth and some harsh reality, do not continue reading!

Skin Whitening in the Philippines 

Why are Filipinos Addicted to Skin Whitening?

So, are Filipinos addicted to skin whitening? I don't think so, but just like for the rest of Southeast Asia, skin whitening products are very popular in the Philippines. Go to any store more than 80% of all the soaps and lotions that you'll see will be skin whitening lotions and skin whitening soaps. 

This is very frustrating if you're not into skin whitening and know for a fact that the majority of those products are marketed falsely (because they don't contain any skin whitening ingredients).

Anyway, I figured to write about this because Refinery29 recently contacted me about a skin whitening video they are filming in the Philippines. They've asked if I can be on that skin whitening documentary video and also to answer some questions for them. I'm publishing one of my email replies to them below. 


Hi Adriana (Refinery29 person who contacted me),

I don't have WhatsApp and I'm heading out to Davao today til next Tuesday for a talk (I teach post grad medical subjects for post grad level so I'm mostly busy with lectures during the day).

I seldom use whitening products and go out of my way to buy some of my toiletry and skin care from abroad because the selection of products without a whitening effect is quite limited in the Philippines. The ones I've used are for blogging/vlogging purposes (requested by my viewers and readers) or those that happen to also have an exfoliating effect as I'm after skin-smoothing and skin brightening, different from skin whitening. 

Fortunately, I haven't had bad reactions yet but that could be because I do a lot of research before trying anything, looking up ingredients and whether the product is FDA approved or not...most people don't. They just buy whatever is hyped on social media.

By the way, other content creators in YouTube do all sorts of things and use hyped (also stupid) skin whitening techniques/products to rack up views. They don't care whether something can harm other people because all they want is to get video views. That's why you see videos of people using baking soda, alcohol, tide detergent, dish soap etc in YouTube claiming it gave them white skin (when they already have fair skin to begin with). The rest are mostly paid content by companies so you see video creators reviewing a new whitening product on an almost weekly basis. I only have 1 video featuring skin whitening soaps but technically they are more like skin brightening soaps (based on ingredients list and effect of such ingredients). So yeah, most of the videos on skin whitening are by fake people endorsing fake claims and marketing to the gullible either for views or moolah. 

From what I've observed, the use of skin whitening products in the Philippines is related to colonial mentality (still prevalent in lower middle-class to poor sectors). The Philippines as a whole is very class-conscious, as is normal in Southeast Asia. The obsession with attaining whiter skin has to do with being perceived as having a cushy life (privileged life). The people here who are truly addicted to using skin whitening products are the same people who buy fake designer clothes, bag, and shoes. It's all about faking wealth...because wealth is perceived as attractive. Much like having tanned skin is perceived as beautiful in the West because it means someone can afford exotic vacations or afford frequent trips to the tanning salon. Sorry, I don't beat around the bush.

I'm rambling, haha! 

Anyway there are a lot of other video creators you can tap for a video with you but please be warned that most are just after their few minutes of fame. I doubt they'll give real answers. I work behind the scenes for some PR and marketing companies in here and know that most local influencers are of that mentality. 

The use of skin whitening products have deep roots but basically it's all about money or being perceived as privileged (most think it's about attractiveness but it is not if you look deep enough). There's even some old text about local princesses bartering for skin whitening plants from China 600-700 years ago because brighter and fairer skin means money/wealth/power/status.

Okay, will shut up now. I better publish this email response in my blog, haha! Sorry this is too long.

If only I were in Manila I can talk about this for hours.




I was kinda harsh, right? 

Refinery29 contacted me to be on their documentary because of my Paano Ako Pumuti video wherein I said that I always had light skin (like really pale) but was only reviewing the 3 products I mentioned there because of lots of requests from viewers and readers. The products I mentioned are actually soaps with skin exfoliating properties so not really skin whitening. I personally think that skin whitening is falsely used in most products' marketing but hey, welcome to the internets!

NOTE: I am not against skin whitening at all. I have a lot of abnormal pigmentation so I also use skin whitening products and review them. However, I use safe and proven ones and try to create responsible video reviews and write-ups. Hindi char char lang!

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