Skin lightening is a trend that has swept across the whole world. This phenomenon does not only happen in African countries alone but in all dark skinned countries alike. Many claim that it is one of the many ways dark skinned people want to “identify” with the whites.
Skin lightening involves the use of products which are mostly laden with ingredients and chemicals that are capable of causing damage to the skin and other internal organs of the body. The chemicals known to lighten the skin are Hydroquinone, and often times hazardous chemicals like mercury and steroid are used to speed up the efficacy of these ingredients.
Hydroquinone is primarily an ingredient for inhibiting melanin production (melanin is responsible for the dark colour of our skin), it has been used in products to lighten the skin by stopping the production of melanin.
Since reports have come out to show that Hydroquinone does possess the potential to cause skin cancer, it has been banned in European countries. However, while the rest of the world is limiting the use of hydroquinone on products, african countries like Congo, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria are still using it.
Mercury, another known ingredient of skin lightening products is a salt that is used in lightening creams and other cosmetic products. When Mercury is applied on the body it is absorbed through the skin and can be transferred by the hands to the mouth making ingestion possible too.When used for a long time, Mercury is known to cause fatigue, headaches and shaky hands, and since it penetrates the skin and enters the blood stream, Mercury is also known to affect the Liver.
Even with all the dangers associated with Skin Lightening, it is estimated to be worth $10 billion and it is a lucrative industry that continues to grow everyday with more people venturing into the business daily.
However, one country looking to change all of this is Ghana. Ghana has started the fight to BAN hydroquinone products in the Market. According to its Food and Drugs Safety (FDA), it is a matter of public safety. Other countries like Cote D’Ivoire and South Africa, have regulations on hydroquinone containing products due to its carcinogenic effects on users. Aside causing cancer, lightening creams also cause skin rashes, skin irritation and itching as well as discoloration.
The ban on hydroquinone would make several people go out of business, while leading desperate consumers to black markets. However, the ban on Hydroquinone in Ghana will be very good because lives will be saved from the fangs of this deadly chemical.
There have not been any serious rule of law that regulates the use of hydroquinone in skincare products but let’s hope that Ghana will stay true to their words and other countries will follow suit because hydroquinone obviously does more harm than good.
Do you think Nigeria should follow in Ghana’s footsteps?