Skin-whitening creams are experiencing a massive boom in India as millions strive for fairer skin. People with darker complexions are often discriminated against and lighter skin is widely promoted as more attractive by the media and celebrities.
Skin whitening products, which retail for $0.50-$150, now outsell tea and Coca-Cola. Current annual growth of 18 percent is expected to hit 25 percent in 2010, giving the market a value of $432 million.
Experts have questioned the effectiveness and safety of products amid reports that a significant number of them contain steroids - a claim denied by the manufacturers. Doctors fear their advice is being lost amid a storm of marketing.