SKIN BLEACHING ON STEROIDS
*Caption: Some of the most popular skin bleaching creme’s found in South Africa.
Written: Zama Ngcoya
Although witnessing the complexion of people changing gradually, from dark skinned to light, it all seemed like somewhat a norm to most, until many campaigns and protests were put in motion to shed some light on the “abnormality” of skin bleaching.
Although the risks of skin cancer and damaged skin have been highlighted in many campaigns against skin bleaching, there seems to be a growing number of people who resort to skin lightening products, containing harmful and banned substances such as mercury, steroids and hydroquinone to lighten their skin in attempts to enhance their appearance.
Journalismiziko spoke to Professor Ncoza Dlova, Head of Department and Associate Professor of Dermatology at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, who has been very vocal and active in the calling of a ban on the sale and the use of skin-lightening process.
According to Dlova, the process of skin bleaching can be defined as the process of changing one’s normal natural skin colour in order to have a lighter skin shade.
She also shed light on the processes involved in skin bleaching.
“Using creams, soaps, injections or tablets to remove the protective pigment called “melanin” thereby attaining a lighter skin colour,” said Dlova.
Dlova added that although this process first came into late in the 70’s, it did die down in the late early 90’s and began resurfacing in the last five years.
She elaborated that there is no suitable age-group to undergo the process of skin bleaching, as skin bleaching has no benefits and is not condoned or encouraged since it damages the skin and some of the reasons why people resort to it is include low self-esteem and other socio-political issues.
According to Dlova, there are many disadvantages to skin bleaching.
“There is irreversible damage to skin, infections, skin cancers and permanent dark marks and stretch marks,” she added.
She also advised people against considering bleaching their skin.
“I would advise them not to even start bleaching the skin and advise them that black skin is the best skin to have as one tends to get wrinkles later in life and one is protected from skin cancer, unlike people who are fair who tend to get wrinkles at an earlier age and may also develop skin cancer,” said Dlova.
For “yellowbone,” Siyamthanda Vundisa, it is society that has made being light skinned seem like a certification of superiority.
“People have that logic that when you are light skinned you are more superior than others. Even when you are going out with friends as a “yellow bone” you find that you get more attention from people because of being light skinned and so to them you are attractive. They have been made to believe that being light skin means you are more beautiful,” said Vundisa.
Vundisa advised against skin bleaching, saying that except for it being a dangerous process because of the chemicals used to bleach ones skin, it also damages ones self-esteem. She encouraged people to love and accept their skin colours for what they really are because that is how they were created.