Despite the numerous health risks associated with skin bleaching as a result of harmful chemicals like mercury, cortisone and hydroquinone, it remains a major issue in Africa.
This is why the Rwandan government is going all out to hopefully put an end to this dangerous beauty trend.
Face2Face Africa reports that the Rwanda National Police (RNP), Ministry of Health, Rwanda Food and Drug Authority, and other agencies have been recently deployed to ensure that the 1,342 brands prohibited since 2013 are no longer found in the East African country.
These brands include Maxi-White, Skin White, Fair Light, Secret White, Diamond White, Carotene, Diproson, Caro Light, Clear Men, and Epiderm Crème.
Speaking with Rwanda's leading publication, New Times, police spokesperson John Bosco Kabera said, "So far, we have seized 5,606 assorted pieces of banned bleaching products, including lotions, oils, toilet soaps and sprays. The illegal products were seized from beauty shops in Kigali, and Eastern, Northern and Western provinces where the operations have been conducted so far."
He continued, "Right now the focus is getting them off the shelves and educating the people both on the law and dangers they pose to users, but at the same time strengthening operations on traffickers of these toxic skin whitening substances."
This entire operation started after President Paul Kagame joined a debate on Twitter. "Quite unhealthy among other things. Includes use of prohibited chemicals. MoH and RNP need to rein this in very quickly…!" he wrote on his Twitter handle.
Bleaching in Nigeria
Angela Renee White, better known as Blac Chyna's trip to Nigeria to sell a new line of whitening cream recently sparked a major debate in the country with the highest users of bleaching creams in Africa.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 77% of bleaching consumers come from Nigeria, followed by Togo with 59%; South Africa with 35%; and finally Mali at 25%.
In spite of the outrage online, Chyna successfully launched her special product - 'Whitenicious X Blac Chyna Diamond Illuminating & Lightening Cream' - in collaboration with Whitenicious which is created by Nigerian and Cameroonian singer, Dencia.
Business Insider Sub Saharan Africa reached out to Clinical Psychologist Toyin Alatise-Abimbola in order understand why Nigerians and Africans, in general, ignore the health risks associated with bleaching.
The founder of PsychNG Services, a psychology outfit in Lagos State, explained that the need to change one's skin tone is an indication of something deeper.
According to her, the need to change one's skin tone is an indication of something deeper.
In her words, "Altering one's appearance may be an indication of more pathological problems such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder or body image dissatisfaction . This may be a sign of non-acceptance of one's cultural background due to the belief that the only standard of beauty is those defined by European ideals for instance."
Read the full interview here.