In Nigeria, there is a big market for bleaching creams as evident by the sheer number of people engaged in ‘mixing’ creams.
Bleaching is using harmful and strong chemicals to have a lighter complexion.
Perhaps this signals a deep colourism problem in the Nigerian psyche because some people (especially women) prefer to be light-skinned.
According to the World Health Organization, 77% of Nigerian women use bleaching creams and skin lightening products.
On Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, and other social media platforms many people sell these bleaching creams they mixed in their homes.
These one-woman skincare manufacturing factories are not regulated by any agency or body.
The makers are not dermatologists, they never got any license to produce skincare but still get patronage from a lot of people.
What is even scarier is the ingredients that are in some of these so-called bleaching creams.
Research carried out in another African country, Ivory Coast by a group of authors revealed that the makers of homemade bleaching cream makers sometimes use household items like toothpaste, laundry agents and even car battery acid to make bleaching creams.
Other active ingredients in bleaching creams are hydroquinone, corticosteroids, and mercury salt.
Hydroquinone is so harmful it is banned in some countries; in other countries, it is regulated and only two percent ss permitted to be used.
Bleaching has a lot of negative side effects.
- Epidermal atrophy – This is a condition that reduces the thickness of the skin (dermis) and causes it to loosen up and become glossy, elastic and frail.
- Ochronosis – This is the discoloration of the skin typically looks like dark spots under the eyes and other parts of the body.
- Dermatitis – This is when skin looks inflamed, dry, and red.
In some cases, bleaching leads to more severe consequences like diabetes, skin cancer, fetal toxicity, and renal failure.
One must be careful the creams and lotion used in a bid to have a lighter complexion so as to avoid permanent skin damage.