In Japanese culture a white skin is an important component of female aesthetics. In the old days, maikos applied a thick white base mask that was made with lead, but after the discovery that it poisoned the skin and caused terrible skin and back problems for the older geisha towards the end of the Meiji Era, it was replaced with rice powder.
At the end of 2007 it appeared that the cosmetics industry had finally invented a skin whitening product that is both safe and convenient, as we reported in this blog in a whiter shade of pale. Unfortunately it now appears this Rhododenol product is unsafe after all.
2,250 users of Kanebo Cosmetics Inc. skin-whitening cosmetics have reported developing serious symptoms such as white blotches on their skin. Serious effects of the products include depigmentation in an area of at least 5 cm and depigmentation in three or more areas of the body, as well as clearly visible depigmentation in parts of the face. In total, the company has received more than 100,000 inquiries in connection with the recall.
The product in question is named "Rhododenol." Kanebo earlier said it has been marketing cosmetics that use the ingredient as an active substance since 2008 via various retail outlets. The company said it has secured the cooperation of the Japanese Dermatological Association in getting a list of medical facilities which will treat the symptoms posted on the association's website. Kanebo Cosmetics Inc.'s voluntary recall of its skin-whitening line is likely to deal a crippling blow not only to its brand image but also to its parent Kao Corp. It will not be easy to restore the image of the damaged brand. The recall became more damaging due to Kanebo's delayed response.