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Abstract

Background  The use and misuse of skin-lightening products among women living in Arab communities have not been documented previously. This study investigates the determinants, the prevalence and users awareness associated with the use and misuse of skin-lightening products among women living in Jordan.

Method  Female customers arriving at selected pharmacy stores were randomly asked to complete a questionnaire.

Results  A total of 318 women completed the questionnaire, of which 60.7% reported the use of skin-lightening products. Users included women from different age and economic groups. Main reasons for use were preference of lighter skin tone, the treatment of hyperpigmentary disorders or both. More than a third of the users were not aware of the potential side effects of these products. A significantly larger proportion of skin-lightening product users believed that lighter skin tone plays a role in self-esteem, perception of beauty and youth, marriage and employment opportunities when compared with nonusers.

Conclusion  Skin lightening is a common practice among women living in Jordan. It is reinforced by the association of lighter skin tone with a number of perceived benefits including perception of beauty, job and marriage opportunity. User’s awareness regarding the safety of skin-lightening products and instructions for proper use are important considerations when developing interventions to control the misuse of these products.