The Very Dark Side On Bleaching The Skin

More and more beautiful dark-skinned women throughout the world are attempting to alter the way they are perceived by bleaching their skin, and the perils of doing so make one ask what could possibly motivate them to do such a thing.

Skin-bleaching has become a worldwide fashion trend among African women, women of African descent, and even some men, despite the sometimes horrific effects. The usual reason for doing so involves making themselves appear more attractive, both physically and socially.

And while it is true that certain biases do exist, stereotypes that portray dark-skinned women as being of lesser social and economic status, obviously the truth to these biases is as unfounded as the belief in these women’s minds that bleaching somehow makes them more beautiful to men looking for a relationship. The methods of bleaching are as varied as the rates of success.

It mostly comes down to the type of cream used and the chemicals contained therein. From Universal Basic to Biotone, any hair relaxer will lighten the skin. But the markets these days are flooded with products being marketed specifically as skin-lightening creams. Have you ever checked the chemical ingredients of your bleaching cream? Even if you did, you probably wouldn’t know what you were looking at.

The most dangerous ingredients are usually steroids, and some side effects include acne, weak skin, and visible capillaries. However, those effects are mild compared to some of the other frightening possibilities. Some lighteners contain the steroid clobetasol propionate. Side effects of clobetasol misuse include hypertension, elevated blood sugar, and suppression of the body’s natural steroids.Other lighteners contain the steroid hydroquinone, which can be responsible for causing bluish-black blemishes on the skin around the eyes and cheeks and stretch marks on the arms.

And of course, without a doctor monitoring the use of creams containing any of these steroids, there is no telling what sort of reaction a person may have based on their own biology.Still, despite the warnings about the use of skin-lighteners, their use continues to rise and even more so in developing countries. According to the 2005 Ghana Health service report, approximately thirty per cent of Ghanaian women and five per cent of Ghanaian men were actively bleaching.

Since then, the numbers have shot up astoundingly. Today, it is approximated that fifty to sixty percent of adult Ghanaian women are currently or have at one time or another actively used bleaching agents, without regard for or oblivious to the potential health hazards. Some countries have taken steps to regulate the sale of lightening creams, while others, including England and France, have banned the sale of skin-lighteners that contain hydroquinone.

In most African countries, lightening creams are not effectively regulated. Even roadside vendors sell tubes and plastic bags of powders and ointments from cardboard boxes stacked along sidewalks and in markets. Those too poor to afford them resort to home-made mixtures of toothpaste or curry powder, which can stain skin with a yellowish tint. And the lack of regulation means that you really have no idea when you put it on your skin exactly what is in it or what it is going to do to you.

So again, the question is why are more and more beautiful black women throughout the world bleaching their skin. Considering the risks, the answer must surely be that they feel like they have to. In order to be loved and appreciated they have no choice. And who is responsible for making more and more black women feel that way? Perhaps we men should take a look in the mirror and see the real dark side of bleaching.  

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