Many young women in the society have come to equate beauty to the lightening of the skin and various cosmetics are employed to achieve that effect.
There is so much passion attached to attaining a lighter skin and many chemicals, lotions, soaps, herbs and other unhealthy concoctions are being employed to change the skin colour to fair or light one.
These products often contain some key chemicals- hydroquinone and mercury, and these can sometimes lead to negative physical effects, such as cancer, rash and flaky skin, as well as uneven light and dark patches on the skin.
There is also this dangerous trend where some pregnant women take pills during pregnancy to lighten the skin of their unborn babies.
Light skinned models are used to frequently market products and services on billboards and posters. This also reinforces the idea that having a lighter skin is the mark for beauty and many unguided ladies ascribe to such notions.
Skin whitening, skin lightening, and skin bleaching refers 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.
Much as this is a very controversial topic, it has been in existence since the sixteenth century. It is prevalent in dark skin tone cultures across the world, among the African Diaspora and on the African continent
In spite of its grave effects as the inorganic mercury in bleaching creams can cause kidney damage, skin discoloration and rashes among others, the practice is still widespread and the market for such products keep expanding.
Knowing the risks and dangers involved, Parliament introduced legislation against the use of skin lightening products and though the importation of many related products have been banned, similar products are still on the market advertising their potential.
Users of such products told the Ghana News Agency that having a lighter skin is the acceptable norm and this has driven them into the craze of skin bleaching without regard to the dangerous side effects.
Many also claim that ignorance, craze for fashion and the desire to look more beautiful are the issues that has propelled them to patronize such products.
There is the need for more education and awareness creation to complement the effort of the Food and Drugs Authority, Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service.
Several products have been banned, confiscated and destroyed; the dangers and effects of such products have been highlighted and discussed on various public and media platforms; yet many out of ignorance and gullibility are falling prey due to the availability of such products on the markets.
And how can one explain to a gullible lady that there is no need to take some pills to improve the colour of her unborn child. And who are the importers of such products?
Various role models and popular Ghanaian personalities such as Ama K. Abebrese, Nana Ama Mcbrown and Paulina Oduro have added their voices to the anti-bleaching campaign calling on women to love their natural skin tone and say no to skin bleaching.
I’ll urge you to join the effort, let’s increase the awareness creation efforts; let’s say no to skin bleaching.
By Doris Amenyo
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