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HomeNewsAfricaHow Nigeria Became the Skin Bleaching Capital of the World

How Nigeria Became the Skin Bleaching Capital of the World

Self-acclaimed Beautician, Dencia is known for her magical Whitenecious cream that has the powers to transform a person from black to white.

The cream was well received because there is the continuous scramble to look fairer and more acceptable amongst Nigerians.

Recently the World Health Organisation estimated that 77 per cent of women in Nigeria use skin lightening creams compared to with 59 per cent in Togo, and 27 per cent in Senegal.

In a report, WHO said in many parts of Africa, lighter-skinned women are considered more beautiful and believed to be more successful and likely to find marriage.

The quest to get fairer has marred a lot of beautiful skins over the years as men and women engage in frivolous activities to pull off their dark skin tones.

Skin whitening, skin lightening, and skin bleaching refers to the practice of using chemical substances in an attempt to lighten skin tone or provide an even skin complexion by reducing the melanin concentration in the skin.

In Lagos, the process is popularly referred to as mix cream, Alhaja’s Shop was one of the first beauty shops to popularise this act.

Today, Make-up artists, beauticians are expected to know how to mix cream before they can be adjudged the best.

One Taiwo Solomon while speaking with Al Jazeera said for the past 15 years, she has been applying skin bleaching cream. Now several shades lighter she claims her new skin makes her feel more beautiful and confident.

The question is when you forcefully transform yourself from Coke to Fanta, you would wonder why people are seeking confidence or maybe it’s just vanity.


According to Dr. Paul Orhii, Director General of National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), “Skin bleaching is cosmetic treatment to reduce the prominence of skin discolorations and even out the color of the skin.”


While outlining the risks associated with Skin bleaching, he said “the urge to satisfy customers’ ever-increasing demands has driven some cosmetic manufacturers to experimenting with raw materials with little or no safety records, (sidestepping) the statutory framework for regulation of cosmetics and medical devices which allow regulators to review and approve products before they are sold to the public.”

He explained that the continued use of bleaching products could cause serious psychiatric, neurological and kidney problems

He said “Mercury is a toxic agent that can cause serious psychiatric, neurological, and kidney problems. Pregnant women who use a skin lightener with mercury can pass the mercury on to their unborn child. Mercury can accumulate in the body and cause poisoning, which can lead to kidney or liver failure.

“The use of Glutathione as a skin whitener is not approved. The alarming increase in the unapproved use of Glutathione administered intravenously as a skin-whitening agent at very high doses is unsafe and may result in serious consequences.

“Furthermore, other chemicals that have been medically proven to be injurious to health such as Hydroquinone above 2%, and topical Corticosteroids have also been incorporated into cosmetic products for skin lightening or skin toning.

“Banned chemicals also include Boric acid and Lanolin in baby products. The use of these chemicals in cosmetic products can cause various ranges of skin deformation, injury to skin and cancers.

“This unethical practice by manufacturers, coupled with ignorance on the part of consumers, has left many skins permanently damaged.”

He added that added that “with the increased use of cosmetics and medical devices, it has become imperative to give these products specific attention owing to their complexity and high potential risks to consumer health and this makes the regulation of these products vital to healthy living.”




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