Pros and cons of skin lightening creams

Wire picture. Your brown skin is beautiful and it is the only skin you will ever get so do not harass it. Rather, invest in moisturising essential oils like coconut and vitamin E, have a good sun protection factor sunscreen and preserve your chocolate coating

Wire picture. Your brown skin is beautiful and it is the only skin you will ever get so do not harass it. Rather, invest in moisturising essential oils like coconut and vitamin E, have a good sun protection factor sunscreen and preserve your chocolate coating

Bongiwe Nkomazana

Skin bleaching dates back decades ago and little research has examined how slavery, colonialism and westernisation in Africa especially, have resulted in its high prevalence. A long standing perception of white skin being that of people with power and wealth could be a sub-conscious reason. However, with very young black women, who did not experience colonialism, there must be more reasons to why this has become almost normal to do

We all have the right to do what makes us happy especially if it is our version of self-improvement like eating healthy, exercising and maybe for some skin lightening or bleaching.

Society does not realise it but it puts a lot of pressure on women to look a certain way. Despite the obvious fact that not all women were born of the same pair of parents, a very precise cut out image of a perfect woman has been thrown at us to emulate in order to be accepted as beautiful or ignore and suffer being deemed as ugly.

One trait of a “beautiful” woman nowadays is fair skin. You have to be a “yellow-bone” to qualify as attractive. As a result, darker skinned women feel the need to alter their skin colour and even the fair skinned women will be pressurised to enhance their complexion by abusing skin lightening creams.

There are a lot of opinions around skin lightening with some people being totally against it while others defend it as their personal choice.

Some pretend to hate it while they low-key practise it so let us talk about the pros and cons of skin lightening.

Skin bleaching dates back decades ago and little research has examined how slavery, colonialism and westernisation in Africa especially, have resulted in its high prevalence. A long standing perception of white skin being that of people with power and wealth could be a sub-conscious reason. However, with very young black women, who did not experience colonialism, there must be more reasons to why this has become almost normal to do.

When I read up on this subject, the only advantage of skin bleaching I gathered was using skin lightening creams to eliminate scars, moles and age spots and to treat various skin diseases and this has to be under the supervision of a dermatologist.

The first disadvantage of skin bleaching is of course that it alters your natural look. I have grown to realise that the more you accept who you are in all that you are, you just become happier. There is a reason why you are the way you are. Life becomes simple and you worry less about things you cannot change and focus more on substantial things.

It must be noted that skin bleaching is not a permanent solution. As much as you can achieve a desired skin tone for as long as you are willing to keep it up, once the chemicals are taken away from your body you go right back to how you were made, that is if you are lucky. Unfortunate circumstances, on the other hand, have seen reports of what they call exogenous ochronosis, which is the permanent darkening of the skin due to high hydroquinone concentrations in lightening creams and is very resistant to any treatment. Basically, while trying to be lighter through skin bleaching, you might actually cause yourself to be darker and this is not a normal darker; it literally looks like a burn scar so be wise with your decision in this regard.

Let me pose this question; what then is the point of going through all that turmoil? To make matters worse, the same society you are getting fairer for will be the first to criticise you if things go wrong.

I know as human beings we tend to do things anyway even if we know their negative effects like how smoking will damage the lungs; how drinking will damage the liver and how eating junk food will damage the abs. I am hoping that constant badger of the negative side effects of skin bleaching will drive a point home though. Allergic reactions occur from skin bleaching. If you feel severe itching or burning of the skin that could develop to intolerable pain then bleaching is not for you. Crusting layers on the skin may appear too, as well as swelling of broken skin areas where the bleaching cream has been applied.

Many skin bleaching creams contain mercury and dermatologists advise that they not be used for long periods of time. You find us women using them for all our lives because we are trapped. Once you go light and have convinced the whole world that you were born this way, how do you stop applying mercury on your skin? It is easy really, just stop. Otherwise you could get mercury poisoning by it accumulating in the cells of your face and body leading to adverse health issues like numbness and uncontrollable shaking.

Last but not least, because you are scraping off your God-given melanin, you become hyper-sensitive to the sun’s rays. Living in Zimbabwe where the sun shines harshly almost every day, why would you strip your skin of its protective qualities?

The thing with bleaching is the fact that there is no in-between when it comes to pricing. You either get cheap creams that leave you looking grey as a corpse or those that have a brick-red residue; we have all seen these outcomes on these streets, usually characterised by a face with a colour that does not match the rest of the body. Then the other extreme is the celebrity kind that they all deny but we all see. This one gets you lighter uniformly and I can only imagine the amounts of money they part with for these procedures.

However, I will say that the only thing that bleaching portrays is insecurity and low-self esteem. From looking at one’s past pictures when they are perfectly brown to the present ones when they are almost pink tells a story of disliking oneself and envying the form of another person.

I am all about self love and I will not refrain from encouraging women to actively make themselves healthier, physically and spiritually so that they are truly happy. Look at your flaws and work on them but dark skin, ladies and gentlemen is NOT a flaw. It is NOT a curse. It is not dirty. Your brown skin is beautiful and it is the only skin you will ever get so do not harass it. Rather, invest in moisturising essential oils like coconut and vitamin E, have a good sun protection factor sunscreen and preserve your chocolate coating.

 

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