Praise be to Allah, and may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family and his companions. Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. Whatever of these items are similar in effect to make-up and beauty products, then they are permissible. As for what leads to a long-term or continuous change, as in peeling the skin and removing the surface layer of skin, then the majority of scholars hold it as impermissible, as it is changing the creation of Allah. It is stated in the hadith of `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), who said, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) cursed the woman who peels off skin [for another] and the one who has her skin peeled [by another].” [Musnad Ahmad (26171)] However, there is an understatement in its chain of narrators due to the unknown state of some of its narrators. A group of scholars is of the opinion that skin peeling is allowed, due to the aforementioned hadith, regarding it being weak. As for justification for changing the creation of Allah, then it is not the same in all situations. Making it a constant [unchanging rule] is the opinion of Tabari, in that it is not permissible for a woman to change anything of which Allah created her upon; not by adding nor by subtracting anything in pursuit of looking better; not for her husband nor for anyone else; even if it means removing a defect that is not naturally [part of a woman], such as a woman who has an extra tooth and has it removed, or it is longer than usual and she has part of it cut off, or a beard or moustache she removes by plucking or by any other means. This opinion is in contrast to the opinion of the majority of scholars who exclude such situations [from the ruling of changing the creation of Allah], just as some things that have been permitted for beautification are included in the meaning of changing the creation of Allah, such as henna and hair dye. This shows that the justification for the prohibition of changing the creation of Allah is not constant [i.e. not the same in all situations], just as the basis for all things is permissibility and allowance unless and until it is prohibited by clear evidence. So what is clear is that it is permissible to use natural and other products for lightening the skin. As for differentiating between what has a long term or short term effect, then it has not been clearly mentioned [in the Qur’an or Sunnah]. And Allah knows best.
Dr. Khalid al-Muslih
22 / 9 / 1428 AH