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Skin Bleaching In Nigeria: The Glow Now, Groan Later Campaign

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 By Debbie Ibiyemi

The act of taking care of one’s skin has been transformed beyond what it was in the past decades. At first, skin care was all about taking care of the skin, just as the name implies. It was about using products which were mostly as close to nature as possible to cure skin ailments and to maintain the overall health of the skin.

These days, the case is different, skin care practices are carried out majorly for the purpose of beautification and sometimes to effect alteration.

The wants of man, especially when it has to do with appearance is insatiable and this trait has been successfully imported into the skin care professional world. Day by day, new trends are evolving which are suited to sustain these insatiable needs of the average consumer out there on the market. This rush by the producers to satisfy the consumers and the consumers trying to always increase their demand has led to seeming craze within the skincare industry.

Skin Bleaching

Skin bleaching is a major aspect that forms the insatiable demands of the consumer. The world health organization (WHO) carried out a research on skin bleaching within the African continent and the world at large and found Nigeria to be the highest with 77% of the women bleaching their skin making Nigeria the world’s largest consumer of bleaching products. I have read a lot of articles and campaign materials condemning bleaching and blacklisting people who go ahead to bleach their skin. Some people have termed it to mean that the minds of the people who bleach are still under the colonial masters of old and have thus not been liberated even after several years of physical independence from such countries. This report would address the issue of skin bleaching, the actions and intent behind it, the safe and unsafe practices and the effects it has on the society at large.

Skin Bleaching

Bobrisky / Before and After

Skin bleaching is simply the suppression of the melanin pigment of the body. Melanin is what gives the skin its colour and this is majorly for the purpose of protecting the skin from the sun. As we all know, the sun is the skin’s worst enemy therefore, it is just normal to cling to whatever can give any form of protection from the sun. However, irrespective of the purpose or function of the melanin pigment, these consumers would rather forgo the protection and still strip their skin of its colour.


They do this mainly because there is this confidence and acceptance that they feel when their complexion changes from dark to fair skinned. People tend to notice them more. They become more attractive, are at liberty to play with colours and style and the list goes on. If you look at this yummy list, it would be a bit hard to condemn the person bleaching their skin. It could also be compared to a person going in for a haircut whilst also engaging the services of the barber to alter the colour of their hair. Why do you cut your hair, or better still why do you dye the colour of your hair? If you as a person cannot condemn the act of altering the colour of the hair, why then should you isolate and bash people endlessly for altering the colour of their skin?

However, in as much as I do not support the bashing and the stigmatization, I still do not also support skin bleaching. I believe that your skin would be better off glowing in its present complexion than become fairer and be put at risk. Having said this, I would like to stress that I am condemning skin bleaching not because I think the action is bad but because I am concerned about the bad practices involved in the process especially in Nigeria as we speak. The average Nigerian beauty consumer is left to look out for himself when it comes to the matter of making correct skincare choices and skincare is such that except you have been equipped with the right knowledge, you cannot look out for yourself. We also have the ever-increasing skin care practitioners which I call the ‘bleaching experts’.

They are mostly not trained and take skincare business to be some form of an apprentice venture where they go in and learn a few tricks and after a few days become self- proclaimed skincare experts, open an outlet or go on Instagram and begin to advertise natural and organic products which are commonly made by them. In this case, I neither blame the consumer nor the producer, I just need to stress that a huge amount of the products you apply topically (on your skin) would end up in your body.

That is, the body literally absorbs whatever we put on it.

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These should already depict to us the severity of the effects of what we put on our skin. These days, there is hardly anyone that sells these mixes and portions that do not say their products are organic Meanwhile a product cannot be termed organic if it has not gone through and passed adequate testing. We all know in Nigeria that the so-called beauticians that have saturated the market do not get their products tested so please, how did a product that was probably conjured in your bedroom end up on the shelf as being organic? They scare the consumers by telling them to avoid already packaged creams, lotions and serums because they have chemicals in them which would cause cancer yet these same so-called professionals cannot successfully identify nor diagnose the same skin cancer they always use as a tool to play the mind game. I am not saying we do not have professionals that are worth their salt at the moment in the country, we do but+ the quacks by far outweigh the professionals and have caused so much confusion.

Walk into a store and speak with someone about becoming white and this person conjures a mystery portion in a mystery jar and calls it natural. Even some go as far as naming their so-called actives. They could call it a carrot lotion yet you become white in one week and you really believe that carrot did that? Please, before you give your skin to anybody for treatment, that is should you decide to go ahead and bleach, ensure that they are certified and licensed to practice. Ignorance is not an excuse for skincare, once you use bad products, the effect may not be now but you will surely pay for the damage you caused. What do they say, “the skin you have at 50 is a product of the choices you made at 20” I would love to implore every reader, in conclusion, to pick skin glow over skin bleaching and to make sure they patronize qualified skin care practitioners. You would not take your car to a laundryman for repairs, why then would you take your skin to a quack for treatment? Do not pay your hard earned money for that mystery cream, soap or serum that would turn out to be dead in a bottle. Do not glow today and groan tomorrow.



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