Skin Bleaching: An Act Of Ignorance Or Low Self-Esteem?

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Photo: CNN (Article By: Promise Enyin)

Skin bleaching, whitening or lightening as used by beauty industry marketers, is the practice of using chemical substances in an attempt to lighten the skin or provide an even skin colour by reducing the melanin concentration on the skin. Melanin is a natural skin pigment.

Since the emergence of cosmetic products (creams, soaps, pills and professional treatments such as chemical peels and laser therapy) in Nigeria. Men and women have delved into purchasing cosmetic products at any cost to keep the skin glowing to maintain an all round beauty. And this passion for cosmetic products has made the cosmetic business a very lucrative one in Nigeria; considering its population size. 

In Nigeria’s cosmetic map, skin whitening products have occupied a large percentage and it has become a new lifestyle addiction for a good percentage of Nigerians. The World Health Organisation (WHO) holds that Nigeria has 77%. Which is the world highest percentage of women using skin whitening products. This statistic is also followed by other African countries like Togo, Senegal and Mali with percentages such as 59%, 27%, 25% respectively.

These alarming rates in skin bleaching across Africa begs the question “What is the motivation behind Skin bleaching”.? Is it safe to say that these percentage of women who are into bleaching bleach out of ignorance.? Do they bleach because they are not well enlightened of the diverse side effects of skin bleaching? Research shows that anyone who bleaches is prone to;

Skin Cancer.

Mercury Poisoning.  

Kidney disorders.  


Dermatitis and many more.

Unconfirmed reports have shown that skin bleaching occurs mostly among the uneducated irrespective of their social class. Outside Africa, the world battles with racism. The racist believe that the white skin colour is superior to any other skin colour.

However, here is Nigeria where a large percentage of the people are of dark skin tone. They seem to also hold the belief that being white is superior to a royal black, melanin popping skin. A reputable Twitter figure (@elnathan_john) shares his observation in his tweet on fair skin privileges that some parts of Northern Nigeria associate fair skin to aristocracy.

This begins to make one wonder if women bleach their skin to become a lighter shade. Probably because of how they will be perceived by others (men & women). Or due to the fact that most beauty companies prefer lighter skinned models to darker ones. Most Nigerians argue that the possibility of being chosen for acting roles, jobs or rated as the most beautiful depends on skin shade.  

This has made this author to wonder if dark coloured women feel they are not good enough or beautiful enough to be noticed that is why they bleach. They forget that black is not a colour we chose but a colour we can be proud of because it tells our story.

Article By Promise Enyin, Lifestle Blogger

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