Glutathione: The Injectable, Modern-Day Fair & Lovely

Skin-lightening cream’s newer, more expensive cousin is taking over pop culture. But the latest “solution” to an age-old fixation presents new dangers.

GettyImages-1013442764 glutathione
An ampule of glutathione used for skin lightening, July 17, 2018 (STEFAN HEUNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Allana Akhtar


August 22, 2023


9 min

Sarina wants lighter skin, and she’ll go to great lengths to attain it. Viewers of the hit TV series Made in Heaven meet the bride-to-be in the second season’s first episode, as she uses an app to lighten her light brown skin to an even lighter shade of brown. Sarina, an accomplished architect, is marrying Aman, the wealthy scion of a family obsessed with British culture. Both have mothers who can’t stop commenting on skin color.

As the episode progresses, we learn Sarina is also taking glutathione injections, which Sarina’s aesthetician claims will whiten her skin. One doctor, seeing Sarina break out into a rash as a side effect, even proclaims: “It’s not harmful…nothing to worry about.”

While the show calls out South Asian society’s obsession with fair skin as racist, it leaves many more questions about glutathione — which supposedly “all the actors are taking” — unanswered. Are these injections just another avatar of skin whitening creams, such as Fair & Lovely, which have dominated South Asian shelves and become a multibillion-dollar industry? Or is it something far more insidious?

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