Skin whitening, skin lightening, and skin bleaching refer to the practice of using chemical substances in an attempt to lighten skin tone or provide an even skin complexion by reducing the melanin concentration in the skin.
The desire to attain a white look has, since the early 90s, become an African problem, as many creams both legal and illegal flood the markets.
Over the years, several governments in Africa have tried to ban such products, however, new ways of getting that ‘perfect light skin’ flood the system.
In Ghana, the Food and Drugs Authority FDA last year warned the general public against the use of some 41 cosmetic products which contain harmful substances including mercury and hydroquinone.
The FDA in a statement equally instructed the producers of the harmful cosmetics products to recall them from the market.
However, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) report, over 40% of the female population in Africa bleach while 10 per cent has thought and attempted to start the process. In 2017, the bleaching products industry was worth $17. 9 billion dollars.
Here are the 5 top countries in Africa where women risk it all to have a lighter skin
Leading the list is Nigeria, the West African country with over 180 million people. The country not only tops Africa but tops the worldwide list with 77% of its female population practising skin bleaching.
Generally, Francophone Africa is dealing with serious skin bleaching crises. A quick look on the bleaching products on the African market and one realizes that several are coming in from Togo, Cameroon, Congo, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. However, the World Health Organization report indicates that 59% of the female population in Togo are practising skin bleaching.
It comes as no surprise to some expect that a country where there is much more technological advancement, South Africa makes the list. The country has 35 per cent of its black women striving to edit the skin to lighter skin and thus purchasing bleaching products of all kind.
A top fashion secrets for most women in Senegal is to have lighter skin to complement your character and find men crawling at your feet.
Since 2015, the country has seen a rise in the number of bleaching creams that flood the market from other countries like Mali and Ivory Coast. In 2017, Senegalese cosmetic doctors appealed to the government to ban bleaching products with concerns that the number of women suffering from skin diseases.
Mali is the 5th highest recorder of skin bleaching cases in Africa. The growing trend, although harmful, is slowly catching up with men, leaving the government very worried.
The country is also known for producing illegal creams that find their way into the West African country.