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Skin-lightening products market to reach US$31 billion by 2024

In emerging Asian and African economies, the natural aspiration to enhance one’s circumstances has led to rapid growth in the market for skin-lightening products, which is projected to reach US$31 billion by 2024.

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Recent years have seen evolving awareness of systemic inequities including racism, sexism and pro-Western chauvinism.

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The concept of intersectionality invites scholars and thinkers to take a more nuanced approach centred on how these biases interact, rather than viewing them in isolation or as additive challenges.

Thinking along intersectional lines provides an opportunity to focus immediate attention – and target intervention – on those most at risk. It also equips us to examine how the actions of various stakeholders may reduce or exacerbate these interwoven risks.

Consider the worldwide phenomenon of colourism or systemic bias in favour of lighter-shaded skin over darker. Even in non-white majority countries, research has consistently found fairness of complexion to be correlated with better life outcomes.

Skin-lightening products market is projected to reach US$31 billion by 2024

In emerging Asian and African economies, the natural aspiration to enhance one’s circumstances has led to rapid growth in the market for skin-lightening products, which is projected to reach US$31 billion by 2024.

Though both men and women partake, the vast majority of habitual skin-lightening consumers are female. In one study of university students across Asia, Africa and the Americas, 30 per cent of women participants reported using the products, as compared to 17 per cent of men. 

Our research (paper forthcoming in Psychology of Women Quarterly)[1] uses experimental evidence from India to explore how the combination of colourism, gender bias and economic disadvantage affects demand for risky skin-lightening products. What we found challenges the notion that such products can be empowering to oppressed women seeking to improve their station in life. Instead, we show how a sense of internalised disempowerment activates women’s desire to lighten their skin and, even more worryingly, places their health at risk.

Objectification

We hypothesised that women are the primary audience for whitening products, despite the cross-gender impact of colourism. This is because of self-objectification, a byproduct of sexism that causes women across lines of race and ranges of skin tones to be more sensitive to their appearance due to its implications for their social status.

When women receive reminders of their disempowerment on top of their chronic objectification, they might clutch at the nearest remedy – in this case, skin-lightening agents (which ubiquitous advertisements assure them will make them look far more beautiful and hence transform their lives for the better).

The greater their concerns regarding social standing, the more likely they are to bypass over-the-counter products such as Unilever’s Glow & Lovely (which are medically benign, essentially similar to sunscreen) in favour of riskier “pharmaceutical” products that have been linked to a host of adverse long-term health effects.

The latter category of products are aimed at suppressing melanin production, and many varieties have been found to contain chemicals banned in some markets, including hydroquinone, corticosteroids and/or mercury. Officially, they are available only with a doctor’s prescription.

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INSEAD Knowledge is the expert opinion and management insights portal of INSEAD, The Business School for the World. Knowledge showcases the latest business thinking and views from award-winning faculty and global contributors

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AstraZeneca Approves Thailand’s Vaccine Factory

National News Bureau of Thailand

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BANGKOK (NNT) – AstraZeneca has approved safety standards at Thailand’s vaccine factory and will send the first batch of raw materials for vaccine production in June.

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Ecommerce

Has Covid-19 prompted the Belt and Road Initiative to go green?

Oxford Business Group

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Has Covid-19 prompted the Belt and Road Initiative to go green?
– Covid-19 led to a slowdown in BRI projects
– Chinese overseas investment dropped off in 2020
– Government remains committed to the wide-ranging infrastructure programme
– Sustainability, health and digital to be the new cornerstones of the initiative 

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Following a year of coronavirus-related disruptions, China appears to be placing a greater focus on sustainable, digital and health-related projects in its flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

As OBG outlined in April last year, the onset of Covid-19 prompted questions about the future direction of the BRI.

Launched in 2013, the BRI is an ambitious international initiative that aims to revive ancient Silk Road trade routes through large-scale infrastructure development.

By the start of 2020 some 2951 BRI-linked projects – valued at a total of $3.9trn – were planned or under way across the world.

However, as borders closed and lockdowns were imposed, progress stalled on a number of major BRI infrastructure developments.

In June China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that 30-40% of BRI projects had been affected by the virus, while a further 20% had been “seriously affected”. Restrictions on the flow of Chinese workers and construction supplies were cited as factors behind project suspensions or slowdowns in Pakistan, Cambodia and Indonesia, among other countries.

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Business

Marijuana could generate up to Bt8 billion for Thailand’s pharmaceutical industry

Last year, Thailand removed cannabis and hemp leaves from its list of banned narcotics (seeds and buds remain banned).

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Marijuana could generate up to Bt8 billion for Thailand’s pharmaceutical industry over the next five years, but farmers stand to make little from growing the herb, experts say.

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