The skin bleaching industry is a booming business, raking in over $10 billion a year. Millions of women around the world bleach their skin, giving into societal pressure to be lighter. But many of the creams can contain toxic chemicals, like mercury or hydroquinone, which can cause cancer or other health problems. Amira Adawe, a Somali-American and public health advocate, found high levels of harmful toxins in popular products in her research five years ago. When she warned women about the dangers of skin lightening, she didn’t make much progress. Now, she’s working to change the culture instead. Soledad O’Brien met with Adawe recently to talk about how she is trying to change the way we define beauty.

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