Ask Caitlin: Is Anal Bleaching Way Harsh?

Beauty editor Caitlin Kenny can (and will) blab endlessly about all things primping. We put her smarts-slash-obsession to work on your most burning summer beauty questions—even those of the woah-you-went-there variety. This week: how safe (and painful) is anal bleaching?

I just got a Brazilian wax and love it, except suddenly I see that it’s a bit, hmm, dark…back there. I’ve heard of anal bleaching, but isn’t that area of skin too sensitive for such harsh ingredients?
—Afraid of the Dark


Hey Fraidy Cat,

When I first read your question, I fist-pumped at the opportunity to publish the word “butthole” (#writergoals). Then I realized I actually didn’t know the answer to your Q. Then my boss prodded me to find out in the name of journalism. Before we go any further, I think you should know that your butthole is beautiful just the way it is, but, like my philosophy on other primping practices: if it will make you happier, then you do you. In my case, I let Christina Thompson at Toronto’s Allure Body Bar do me. It involved lying on my side, holding my cheeks wide and looking up at a painted ceiling tile that asks, “Is your wink pink?” while Christina vigorously rubbed an all-natural gel on my anus for four minutes. Contrary to the name, there’s no bleach involved. Nor is there any hydroquinone, a much-debated skin whitener banned in Europe as a possible carcinogen—and known to sting. This treatment ($75) uses melanin-halting licorice root to lift up to four shades and didn’t hurt or burn, and the area did indeed look lighter. (I’ll spare you the before and afters.) A take-home kit ($75) promises another four shades in a month (also a solo option for more gradual, less-ex- posing lightening, I learned a little too late). Excess darkness, which is caused by hormones, chemicals from soap and dampness, could theoretically return, but Allure’s owner has yet to hear any such complaints, even after making approximately 400 buttholes flashlight bright (Allure services at least one bleach seeker per day, with clients coming from as far as Thunder Bay and Windsor, Ont.). I really, truly hope this was as informative for you as it was awkward for me.


Illustrations: Hatecopy


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