Skin lightening or bleaching as it commonly known is spreading rapidly like bushfire across the African continent. Despite the risks associated with the vice, many women continue to engage in it with little or no knowledge of what might occur to them.

In Nigeria, in 2011, statistics indicate that 77 per cent of women use skin lightening products which translates top roughly 60 million people.

The practice has gone to the extent of women using these product to lighten skin of infants by mixing steroids cream with shea butter which in many instances turns out to be tragic on the young ones. Speaking to AFP, Dr. Isima Sobande a Lagos based medical practitioner said she has handled such cases of infants brought to her after a procedure gone wrong.

“He had very large boils all over his body. It seemed like they weren’t normal.”

Various governments in Africa have placed a ban on the use of skin bleaching products but that has not stopped women from the phenomenon. These products come in form of creams that was popular with the older generation, pills and injectables that are popular among the young generation.

With statistics showing that the practice is gaining tract even more in Africa, manufacturers of legitimate and illegitimate products are taking advantage of the situation to cash in on the ever increasing clientele base.

“More clients want insight on the lightening market,” Said Rubab Abdoolla, a beauty analyst. With legitimate products costing an arm and a leg, many opt for black market to get cheaper deals which often have a myriad of risks.

Some of the dangers associated with the use of these products include damage to the reproductive system, kidney respiratory infection leading to cancer and affecting the nervous system as well.

Continued use of skin bleaching agents leads to addiction. Studies show that some women cannot stop the urge to continue lightening their skin as a result of continued use.

Pela Okiemute a self-proclaimed skincare star explains that under his brand called Russian White body cream, offers the best solution to those seeking to lighten their skin as it provides firmness, intense beauty and a mixed race complexion.

However, a new breed of generation is coming up with a concept trying change the mindset of those who believe that white skin complexion is the ultimate standard of beauty. This is all in a bid to change the narrative as Ajuma Nasenyana, a model explains.

“The truth for me was that my beauty was more accepted abroad than at home. Hopefully the industry is changing and starting to appreciate darker skin.” she said.

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