Skin-whitening is one of these practices adopted in the world’s four corners. This phenomenon affects Asia and Africa more.

For example, three-quarters of women regularly use lightening products to whiten their skin in Nigeria.

However, skin whitening causes many dangers to the skin that can have irreversible consequences.

However, whitening the skin is not a new phenomenon without warning signs; it is the consequence of centuries of psychological and physical abuse that have paved the way for many discriminations based on physical appearance.


The whitening of the skin is one of the consequences of beauty, partly based on colourism. This discrimination based on skin colour and facial features has its origins during colonization.

This period marks the foundation of relations of domination and a racist ideology detrimental to people with dark skin, thick features and textured hair. This is how skin colour becomes an identity marker; people approaching Western physical ideals were more accepted.

“The idea that a mixed or white complexion is more attractive is the impression that one will be better socially considered with a lighter complexion” – Leslie Carombo, cosmetologist.

This idea of fair skin was conveyed throughout the world, especially in other colonized countries – outside sub-Saharan Africa – which subsequently integrated this process of Negrophobia to align themselves with these Western standards. This is the case in Asian countries, where this process of alienation explains the high rate of skin whitening. In Asia, dark skin is also considered an indicator of class and social success since people with dark skin are often peasants exposed to the sun during their working hours.

This negative representation of black skin opens the way to many forms of discrimination.


First of all, it is essential to know that melanin helps protect the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which cause skin ageing and skin cancer. We owe melanin, the dark pigment of our skin, hair, body hair, and tan.

Skin whitening can be practised in lightening cream, injection, tablets, or even by the artisanal practice, which is cream with bleach.

The daily use of whitening cream is the most widespread technique. This whitening cream has a dangerous composition; lead, cortisone or hydroquinone.

Skin whitening is mainly caused by two main active ingredients: hydroquinone and cortisone.

Hydroquinone is responsible for the depigmentation of the skin in the form of spots since it interrupts the production of melanin on some regions of the skin. As for cortisone, it completely refines the skin and denatures it, which weakens the epidermis. Usually sold as a medicine, cortisone has been diverted as a whitening cosmetic treatment.


The use of skin lightening products can have irreversible health consequences. Indeed, whitening of the skin causes:

  • cysts
  • Acne
  • The appearance of brown spots
  • eczema
  • stretch marks

In some women, it also plays on the sex hormones, thus causing the appearance of hypervelocity in the chin and neck.

Stripping products make the skin red and fragile; it is, therefore, less resistant to shocks, leading to bruises. In addition, the cortisone present in certain products causes the skin’s elastic fibres to crack.

In some cases, they can also cause:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Renal failure
  • Neurological disorders

And this, even if we stop using these lightening products. Whitening of the skin is also a factor in skin cancer.

So few suspect it; the bleaching of the skin is not without consequences on mental health. This phenomenon can be pretty addictive, so it’s tough to stop once you start bleaching your skin.

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