Rightful questioning or just paranoia? It seems these days that there are more and more people out there taking the big plunge and voluntarily deciding to “touch up” their skins, thus directly impacting the growing supply of all kinds of products more or less dangerous. From Asia to America, many women around the world for various reasons, including social, are tempted to lighten their skins, aim for “porcelain skin» for some or “fair skinned” for others.

Although, they are not the only ones affected by the bleaching phenomenon or “whitening/lightening”, black women, especially Africans are the most associated with this phenomenon nowadays. Yet this “trend” first appeared in the 70s in the US and then gradually spread to other continents including ours. Not without damage…

During this month dedicated to the celebration of women, we wanted to address this issue which, although clearly part of popular culture, paradoxically remains taboo – very few openly assume and admit it doing so. If talking about hair and skin care, it may seem futile sometimes but the underlying danger of skin bleaching also called Tchatcho, khessel (in West Africa) remind us that it is not. This is why we are so keen on helping women accepting themselves the way they are, no matter their origins, skin color or type of hair. It is natural to sometimes want to enhance one’s own beauty, but it is possible to do so without harming your own health and still preserving your identity or authenticity.

It is difficult for many people to accept the fact that EVERYTHING related to skin bleaching is DANGEROUS to the skin and therefore to health. How so:
1. The composition says it all. These products contain:
– Hydroquinone: component used for the preparation of nail products (maximum concentration of 0.02%) so should be used by professionals nail salons only.
– Cortisone / Corticosteroids: prescription drugs by dermatologists that contain an ingredient called clobetasol originally used only to treat certain skin diseases and administered upon approval of a dermatologist
– Mercury salts: a very hazardous chemical component used as a preservative in the manufacturing of soaps therefore harmful to health (increases risks of skin infections, destroys the protective film on the skin)

All of the above mentioned components affect the melanin of your skin content which is the primary element of the skin color and actually protects it. These chemicals burn the skin hence accelerates the lightening process. Unfortunately, some women will go even further and mix up home cleaning products such as bleach in their soap or creams to speed up the process.

2. What are the direct consequences in the mid and long term? Vulnerable skin that cannot protect itself anymore or even heal naturally because it has been attacked continuously, mainly prone to infections. Therefore, the slightest injury may turn into a real aggravation: skin burning, growing body hair, acne and stretch marks, skin cancer, kidney failure, diabetes, hypertension, allergies, bone problems, blindness etc. For obvious reasons, pregnant or breastfeeding women are at higher risk and endanger the lives of their children exposed to toxic components.

3. For Mr. or Mrs. everybody Real world, lightening products are generally sold as soaps, ointments or even pills. Why do these products attract so easily? Because beyond the “clear” beauty promises, their low cost is the main motivator and it doesn’t matter the circumstances under which these were been developed, most of the time in the most unhygienic conditions by amateur chemists more concerned by financial gains than the health of their client (s).

4. Due to the real danger that these products represent to consumers health and well-being, many countries have decided to ban them from their territory; while others aware of the social phenomenon that became skin bleaching, multiply awareness campaigns against its spread.

From our end, it seems important to make the clear distinction between desiring a better skin texture, an even complexion AND decide to change your own skin color, usually to meet standards of beauty imposed by Society. In the first case, there are more natural and less harmful alternatives: start with a good routine (regular facial scrub or use sunscreen to protect the skin). These habits will not give you a lighter skin but they will help you keep your complexion unified, less dull and maintain a healthy glow without endangering your health. The second option, bleaching, is such a dangerous path on the mid and long term that going through the suffering to obtain the “yellow” or “laundered complexion achieved the first time hardly seems worth it.

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