Celebrity Skin Lightening: Who’s Doing It and What They’re Using

Celebrity skin lightening is as widespread as it is controversial. Despite the fact that society is becoming more and more accepting of different standards of beauty and skin tones, light skin is still something that a lot of people still strive to achieve. This doesn’t exclude celebrities.

You’ll notice some of your favorite celebrities getting lighter and whiter as years go by – all the while, they vehemently deny doing anything to their skin. But denial only gets you so far, especially when a picture is worth a thousand words.

It’s no secret that the skin lightening segment of the cosmetic industry is booming. Some of the most popular skin bleaching products come from real industry giants such as Procter & Gamble or L’Oreal. It means skin bleaching gets access to huge budgets for marketing goals. The result? Apparently, nobody’s immune.

From bleaching creams that work fast to skin bleaching surgery – celebrities can easily afford to indulge in all the recent advances and best formulas. At the same time, celebs’ skin lightening is setting the trend for thousands of girls and women who’d follow in their steps. And everyone wants to know their secret.

Sometimes though, there’s no special, secret treatment. Read on to peek into the personal favorites of several well-known faces who’ve undergone skin whitening.

Celebrity Skin Lightening: Who’s Doing It?

Skin whitening has really evolved into a kind of art and not even an expensive one, for that matter. In recent years, a record number of people go for skin lightening and even regardless of gender. No wonder skin lightening has hit celebrities too. They’re also people after all, right?

If you take a look across cultures, what’s considered beautiful in people’s appearance varies wildly. Since we’ve been living in the age of globalization for a while now, quite a bit of beauty standard mixing has taken place. Still, with mixing comes valorization. Certain beauty trends have emerged as dominant.

The desire for lighter skin everywhere is one of these. Of course, historically, in many parts of the world including Asia, light skin used to be associated with the aristocratic class. While workers in the fields couldn’t stay away from tanning in the sun, having paler skin meant you had the luxury to spend a lot of time in the shade.

Today’s craze for whiter skin might have to do with these historical tendencies. More likely though, it has to do with an imposed need to conform to Western beauty standards. There’s so little racial diversity in Western film and TV that those exposed to this production inevitably grow up to believe light and bright skin is what’s beautiful. This goes hand in hand with the increase of dyed blond hair and hair straighteners.

But why Western, you’d ask, when we all know Caucasian women and men love to get a tan and spend thousands on tanning beds and lotions. True, but if you take a more careful look at what kind of tan are Caucasians after, it turns out that this isn’t necessarily “dark skin”. Most people who like tanning, actually long for the mediterranean olive-colored skin, without actually giving up their whiteness.

And now, here comes the paradox. Even extremely successful people with a blossoming career, idolized by millions and with enough on their bank accounts to last their grandchildren a comfortable life – still wish to alter their appearance by using some of the best ways for skin lightening.

Celebrity skin lightening is definitely a trend and it’s often being frowned upon. Somehow, skin lightening has ended up as a taboo. No one wants to talk about it, but everyone’s doing it. But let’s not be so judgmental so quickly. Celebrities experience immense amounts of pressure to look attractive. For many of them, their careers fully depend on their good looks.

We know they’re setting the standards for thousands of teens and if the message they’re sending is to be uncomfortable with your skin tone, that’s problematic. But celebrities like to wow with their looks and they can afford the best skin lightening creams. It’s a fact. So, the thing with skin whitening is somewhat similar to plastic surgeries and other age-defying tricks they can afford to pull. Perhaps the reason we like to comment maliciously is because we hate how “they did it again” and keep looking perfect.

By comparing celebs’ photographs over the years it’s not so hard to spot external interference. Let’s take a look at some prominent examples – and the skin lightening methods they’re most likely using! The first stop is…

Rihanna Skin Lightening

rihanna skin lightening

Rihanna tops the list of celebrities who are often accused of lightening their skin.  A quick scroll through her past pictures shows how her skin color has ranged a spectrum of shades.

But then again, these differences in color can be attributed to Rihanna’s penchant for frequent, complete makeovers of her overall appearance. She continuously experiments with different trends, although some see this as a mere excuse to whiten her skin.

Many have noticed a certain change in her overall skin color over the years. She has not publicly commented on whether she has, in fact, whitened her skin but people have been quick to compare old photos of her with more current ones. And yes, there is a visible brightening and a leaning toward a more golden, rather than brown, shade.

So, what is she using? We’re guessing that Rihanna’s lightening skin care regimen consists of a melanin-blocking cream to fade away darker pigments. A cream containing hydroquinone combined with a retinol cream can cause visibly lighter and whiter results.

But that’s not all. Rihanna’s skin also shows the kind of difference that can happen when taking Glutathione to change the metabolic pathway of melanin from synthesizing dark, brown or black pigmented melanin (eumelanin) to creating a light, pink or red pigmented melanin (phaeomelanin).

Beyonce Skin Lightening

beyonce skin lightening

Yes, even Queen B, despite being one of the most popular stars of today, constantly topping charts and making waves, has shown evidence of skin lightening.

With a stunning number of awards under her belt, Beyonce is also one of the wealthiest women in the world. She is idolized by millions and is a key player in campaigns and initiatives for equal opportunity for black and non-black artists.

Still, a lot of people have noticed that her skin has become increasingly whiter over the years.

This along with dying her hair blonde among other European beauty trends she has followed. Some have pointed out that this conflicts with her message of equal beauty among different races.

We think the constant change in looks has more to do with switching things up. Plus, Beyonce’s skin lightening looks more like brightening than it does actually bleaching, as is the case with Lil Kim…

So, what is she using? Beyonce’s skin hasn’t really drastically changed colors. If anything, we’d guess that she’s simply taking very good care of her skin, which starts with a strong SPF for everyday sun protection.

But the real trick behind Beyonce’s glowing skin is brightening, which can be achieved without doing anything to “bleach” your skin. By using a clever combination of exfoliants – be it microdermabrasion, chemical peels, or just your everyday AHA-containing products – you can slough off layers of dead skin and reveal brighter, lighter and more even skin underneath.

Lil Kim Skin Lightening

lil kim skin lightening

Rapper Lil’ Kim has also definitely changed her skin tone over the years. Some say it’s a result of skin whitening while others say it’s purely due to makeup.

She has neither confirmed nor denied these claims although a lot of fans have noticed the change.

And given the drastic differences in skin color – as well as her obvious comfort with cosmetic procedures – we’re going to conclude that the lightning has to do with a lot more than makeup.

So, what’s she using? It appears that when Lil Kim does something – she goes the whole nine yards. Which is why her transformations are so drastic. Over the years, she’s changed a whole lot of parts – to the point that she’s recently started looking more Asian than African American.

So when it comes to her skin color, she probably didn’t stop at creams and potions and also added on laser skin whitening. Laser skin whitening is a procedure wherein short pulsed concentrated beams of light are targeted to remove melanin and to stimulate the growth of new skin cells. They’re pricey and you’ll require multiple treatments but that probably didn’t stop Lil Kim.

Nicki Minaj Skin Lightening

nicki minaj skin lightening

It is still unclear if pop sensation Nicki Minaj has indeed lightened her skin but many fans and bloggers have noticed that her skin has been getting lighter over the years. People have been posting pictures of her that are years apart and that show a drastic change in her complexion.

Makeup and lighting can only do so much which is why people have been speculating that she has been whitening her skin. Her skin in 2010 when she was just starting to become famous is clearly darker than it is now.

So, what’s she using? Nicki Minaj’s skin lightening is not too drastic – the sort of lightening you could get from a natural skin lightening cream that contains melanin blockers like kojic acid, licorice root, mulberry extract, alpha arbutin and so on. Or even better, a cream that contains a combination of these natural melanin blockers along with exfoliants to speed up cell turnover and get rid of dull, dark, dead skin faster.

Combine that with a strong sunscreen and this level of lightening can easily be achieved.

Michael Jackson Skin Lightening

It’s impossible to talk about celebrity skin lightening and not mention the king of pop who did it before it was cool. Many don’t know, but the original incentive for Jackson’s start with skin lightening was different than wanting to have whiter skin. They diagnosed him with vitiligo, a skin condition that makes white patches of skin appear.

For a while, the African American pop star claimed that the skin condition accounts for his increasingly whiter skin. Eventually, of course, it was clear that his porcelain white complexion had to do with more than that. Many suspected whether he had vitiligo at all, but his autopsy confirmed it.

It is evident that he underwent skin lightening treatments to get the look we all recognize him from. But aside from his complexion, Jackson’s facial features continued to change too. He got a lot of criticism that he was setting a bad and dangerous example by legitimating White supremacy, while having such a big influence over millions. It seemed like he was abandoning his racial look through corrective nose surgery, straightened hair and complete change of skin tone.

His fans though claim that it was more a stylistic decision. While we encourage you to experiment with your appearance if you feel like it, we definitely don’t recommend you to follow into Jackson’s steps and submit yourself to such drastic and potentially unhealthy skin tone alterations.

Halle Berry

We all remember Halle Berry as one with a fairer complexion ever since she first entered the Hollywood spotlight. Perhaps this is why we haven’t noticed that over the years her skin tone nevertheless got lighter and lighter. Hallie Berry is a superstar and widely considered as one of the most beautiful Hollywood actresses. Still, it seems like she, too, has made use of skin lightening products.

There’s no evidence in the public domain that Berry has ever confirmed the claims about her skin lightening. Once again, we are left to speculate only. It all started from rumors spreading about her apparently bleached knees and elbows. One thing leading to the next, it’s now well established that we can mention Halle Berry in the celebrity skin lightening list.

People who follow her more closely disagree as to the skin lightening technique she’s into. Some have claimed that, one way or another, she must have undergone some kind of a skin bleaching procedure done to the skin on her face and prominent body parts.

We agree with those who point out that the change in her face skin tone isn’t that drastic. She must be using some pretty good quality skin lightening creams, just the same ones that are also available to you.

Mindy Kaling Skin Lightening

mindy kaling skin lightening

So funny, so quirky, Mindy Kaling isn’t your average celebrity but even she has shown herself to be getting lighter and lighter skin as the years progress. But it’s hard to say exactly what she’s doing. In some pictures, her skin lightening efforts look pretty obvious but in others, it just looks like Mindy may be taking better care of her skin than she did in the past by using skin brighteners and staying out of the sun.

Seriously, simply not getting more of a tan can do wonders for your complexion.

So, what’s she using? First of all, Mindy Kaling’s skin was in pretty bad shape when she first came into the celebrity spotlight so the transformation isn’t so much about lightening as it is about her skin looking a lot better and healthier.

That all starts with a good, strong sunscreen. On top of that, we’re guessing Mindy Kaling combined a melanin-blocking skin lightening cream – with either hydroquinone or natural bleaching agents – along with an exfoliating regiment that brightened up her dull skin and imparted that lovely glow.

Keri Hilson Skin Lightening

keri hilson skin lightening

Singer Keri Hilson has long been accused of lightening her skin but has also yet to publicly comment on said allegations. Others have questioned her choices as some of her songs talk about womanhood, acceptance of different types of beauty, and love, among others.

Some say her whiter complexion is the result of makeup and lighting, but others also say that these can also do so much saying that she has definitely gone through some type of whitening procedure. We’d agree – the whitening isn’t that drastic so it’s probably the use of a melanin inhibiting cream combined with makeup. But to be honest, we loved her skin color before she started lightening it. It actually looked loads better before!

Diana Ross Skin Lightening

Diana Ross, the legendary singer and diva, has had an illustrious career spanning many decades. However, as the decades have gone by, people have begun to note that Ross’ complexion seems to get lighter and lighter. Of course, Ross has never addressed these rumors, but that doesn’t stop anyone from making speculations.

Even celebrities have gotten in on the skin bleaching rumors about Ross, though. Rapper Azealia Banks, who has arguably become more well-known for her drama than her music, even took to Twitter to talk about African American celebrities who she believes have gotten their skin bleached. She called out Nicki Minaj, singer K. Michelle, and Ross was also included in this list and Twitter rant, with Banks calling her “the bleach queen.” Do we wonder who her source was for this information?

Potential Risks of Skin Lightening

Of course, there are many risks involved in skin lightening and it’s not to be taken lightly. Before starting to use a skin lightening cream, make sure you really know what’s in it. Plenty of dangerous skin lightening ingredients can wreak havoc on your skin and overall health. For one, a common active ingredient in skin lighteners used to be mercury, which can lead to mercury poisoning. Some products may still contain traces of it.

Many countries have banned the use of mercury and use hydroquinone instead. However, hydroquinone is also a highly regulated substance and banned in the EU, Japan and some other countries. It involves health hazards on its own and you should use such products only if you know well how to use hydroquinone safely.

Other skin lightening products use retinoids – compounds that come from vitamin A. Yet, many lab-formulated skin lightening products today use all natural ingredients such as kojic acid that comes from fungi and arbutin or bearberry extract, an active agent found in various plants, most prominently in bearberry extract.

For less extreme cases of uneven skin tone, a weekly exfoliating mask may do the trick, as well as toxin-free skin lightening products, which cost a little more but are worth it.

So if you’re looking to go a little lighter always talk to your doctor before trying anything new. Also, always use sunscreen when using a skin lightener to avoid increasing your risk of skin cancer. Finally, always make sure the product does not contain mercury, or no more the two percent of hydroquinone.


Even though celebrities do it – doesn’t mean you should do it too.

Whether we notice it or not, the impact and widespread nature of celebrity culture is often underestimated. It isn’t limited to commercials or movies, but can be seen in almost every level of society, including things as simple as everyday skin care products.

If social information has a profound impact on teenage girls that only had the TV and the Internet for a few years, then what kind of impact would it have on children that grow up in a country where they receive a multitude of negative messages, in regards to their skin tone.