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Women chase secrets for lighter skin

By Xu Junqian in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-23 14:58

One of the most popular coinages on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of twitter, may be "bai fu mei", which, literally translated, means white, rich, and beautiful — used mostly to describe the kind of girl most men want and most women want to be.

For males, the comparable expression is "gao fu shuai", meaning tall, rich and handsome.

Just as tall men are universally considered more attractive, here in China there is an all-out obsession with lighter-colored skin among women. That breeds a strict, essential, daily anti-UV skincare procedure in the summer, if not year-round, for urban ladies.

The procedure, varying from five minutes to hours long depending on individuals, usually starts in the morning, right after the three basic steps of skin care (cleansing, toning and moisturizing).

Twenty to 30 minutes before going out, a coin-size amount of sunscreen (3 millimeters) rated at SPF50, is put on the face. For bodies, a thicker and usually cheaper type of sunscreen is chosen and sprayed all over the exposed skin, including those easy-to-neglect areas like the backs of the neck and ears.

Foundations and powders that also contain anti-UV agents are put on after the sunscreen to 100-percent guarantee blocking the "evil" sunshine and also correct skin tone. During the rest of the day, there will be a couple of freshen-ups, as it is believed that the screen will gradually lose its effects and sweating can wash it away.

An umbrella, ideally the large, black kind, is a must-carry when outdoors, while more cautious people seek physical protection from long sleeves, hats and all forms of self-made face covers that are more effective than the sunscreen.

Foodwise, drinking a glass of tomato juice before going out is believed to be organic protectionagainst sunshine. Drinks containing lemons and oranges are often chosen for their vitamin C content that can brighten skin tone, while vegetables that make the skin sensitive to UV rays (such as carrots and celery) are shunned.

Sound tiring? The reality is even more so, but according to one saying that many women follow, there are no ugly women but only lazy ones.

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