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Anal bleaching is the process of lightening the color of the skin around the anus. It is done for cosmetic purposes, to make the color of the anus more uniform with the surrounding area. Some treatments are applied in an office or salon by a cosmetic technician and others are sold as cream that can be applied domestically.
Pornography actresses and other pornographic entertainers were the first to undergo the anal bleaching process in an effort to ensure that their skin tone matched all over their bodies. This spread to mainstream film stars in Hollywood once nudity became more prevalent in Hollywood movies. Eventually, anal bleaching became somewhat popular in underground circles.
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment anal bleaching gained mainstream popularity, but it is believed that a series of events led to the relative boom in its popularity. In the early 2000s, Brazilian waxing became extremely popular for many reasons, such as the popularity of smaller swimsuits and lingerie, and because of the spread of pornography in the mainstream. Once Brazilian waxing uncovered previously unseen parts of the female body, many women felt the desire to match the color of their anuses to the rest of their bodies.
In order to combat this perceived problem, genital bleaching began to gain mainstream appeal. It garnered several mentions in popular television shows, movies such as Brüno  and Bridesmaids, and magazines. Soon, spas outside of Hollywood began offering it as a beauty treatment, and drugstores as well as popular online outlets began offering a range of do it yourself anal lightening cosmetics. Eventually, genital lightening began being offered as a laser-based treatment in cosmetic surgery centers. Although the popularity of anal bleaching has not approached that of Brazilian waxing, it has garnered mainstream recognition over the past several years.
There are several ways to carry out the anal lightening process. The most common, safe and reliable method is to simply use an at-home lotion or gel to target the darkened anal and genital area and gradually fade the darkened area over time. Most of the other methods that are used for skin lightening, such as cryosurgery and laser lightening treatments, can also be used for anal bleaching, although they are not necessarily as reliable or safe.
In the early days of anal bleaching, the process was performed with creams that were originally designed for rapid skin lightening. Many of these cosmetics contained ingredients that would irritate the sensitive anal area, and others contained ingredients that have been banned in many countries.
Laser-based and cryogenic anal or genital lightening does not come without its own set of warnings. Results are not always consistent, the process may be a painful one, and those with darker skin tones may have issues with these processes. Lasers also have the added disadvantage of leaving scars, so cryogenic skin lightening is the option usually used for the anal and genital area.