The Project Vanity Podcast, Ep 4 Recap: The light and dark sides of skin whitening

If you’ve been a regular reader of Project Vanity, you’ve probably seen that we now have a podcast! I’ve been very excited since Liz and Den first announced it to the team as it’s something that I’ve long wanted for us to do. The topics have been very interesting but my favorite one so far is Episode 4, which discusses skin whitening

Whitening is a popular beauty concern, and it’s not just Filipinos who are seemingly obsessed. In the episode, Liz and Den talk about how the desire to be “white” is universal - other Asian, African, and even Western beauty trends also illustrate the bias for fairer skin. Many fair-skinned people I know are also the ones who regularly use whitening products like soaps, lotions, and glutathione. 

While “glutathione” and “papaya soap” may be top of mind when talking about whitening products, there are so many other ways to get a fairer skin tone. Kojic acid, tranexamic acid, and vitamin C are all great options for brightening the complexion - but only to a certain extent. Chemical exfoliants can make skin look lighter and brighter, but to actually whiten skin involves more drastic and sometimes unsafe measures. 

Digging deeper into the subject, Liz and Den also talk about the issues concerning the use of glutathione. I’m glad they brought this up because it’s a really controversial treatment. Both the Philippine FDA and the Philippine Dermatological Society have released warnings on the effects of injectable glutathione and they are alarming. Apart from allergic reactions, the effects can be as bad as severe liver and kidney injuries. Adverse effects are not just exclusive to glutathione, either - a lot of supplements can also have detrimental effects when not taken correctly and without a doctor's guidance. It’s important that people are aware of these risks, and be guided towards safer whitening options.


The part that I liked best was when they talked about how beauty is a personal choice. I agree that choice to whiten your skin is exclusively a personal one, and that you shouldn’t be shamed for it. I really hate how some people call out others as having “fake fair skin”, not being “natural”, and always being dark in their eyes. It completely disrespects that person’s choice. Why should it matter if fairness is achieved using whitening products?

Personally, I still have certain moments when I feel that fairer skin would look better on me. I am morena, and I used to get really, really dark because of beach trips when I was younger. My classmates would tease me nonstop about my dark color, and it would get so toxic and hurtful that the happiness I experienced during my vacation would be replaced by sadness and shame about my tan. I’m happy to say that now I’m surrounded by people who treat me with love and respect, but truthfully, it doesn’t really matter anymore. Over the years, I’ve developed the confidence to feel good about who I am and what I look like. As Den pointed out, it’s up to me whether I wanted to be a little bit fairer or darker, and it is also up to me whether I’d feel good about it or not. 

Even though I’m not interested in whitening my skin, I found this episode to be very insightful and inspiring. There’s so much more to it than what I’ve mentioned here! I hope you listen to it and feel the same sense of empowerment that I felt. I also feel a sense of pride because there aren’t many local beauty podcasts - in fact, I think the Project Vanity Podcast might even be the first in the Philippines! 

I’m so eager for more episodes to be available, and curious about what Liz and Den will talk about next. I’d love to hear about weight issues, makeup must-haves, basic techniques everyone should know, and even productivity tips! What about you? What do you want to hear on the Project Vanity podcast? And what do you think of the whitening episode?

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