THE SKIN-WHITENING TREND IN SOUTH AFRICA
By: Veantha Naidoo
In many cultures around the world, beauty is determined by various factors and what one might consider unattractive in one’s culture, could actually be perfection in another.
However recently, it has been found that amongst other beauty trends, most individuals are following skin-whitening creams.
According to recent statistics, skin-whitening products are gaining fast popularity in South Africa and are being used by many different demographics.
Cody Moodley, who is currently studying Dermatology said, “Many woman and men are going to drastic measures to get fairer and brighter skin. They do this by either consuming
whitening pills or even trying teas, but the most common way is using various creams, that are on the market right now.”
Moodley added that most of these creams contain illegal or banned ingredients and if not used as prescribed by a dermatologist, can result in extreme skin damage.
Most skin whitening products contain mercury, hydroquinone and high levels of corticosteroid which can cause the outer layer of the skin to tear and thin quite easily.
Jessica Singh, who sells skin-lightening products, said that when people purchase these creams they do so at their own risk and she makes them understand the consequences.
“I have been supplying skin whitening creams for the past 10 years.
It all started when I went overseas to India. I saw how huge these creams and products were there.
So I decided to test the waters in my home town at Chatsworth. My products sold very fast.
I realized that many woman are actually unhappy and saddened by their complexion,” said Singh.
Singh added that most of her products are imported from countries such as India and Thailand and are also distributed to local shops and beauticians in surrounding areas.
Dr Farouk Hafferjee, who has been a dermatologist for the past 10 years said, “Many skin-whitening products come into the country illegally. We therefore need strict laws as some of
the ingredients used can actually burn and wear-out the skin.”
Nicole Pillay, who started using skin-whitening products from the tender age of 17, blames
the beauty industry for brainwashing women into thinking that the whiter is your skin, the
more attractive you become.
“I started using these products after I saw my mother using them, and all those various
advertisements in the newspapers pushed me to the products. I started noticing small changes
in my skin, and eventually I could not go out into the sun without getting skin burn. Recently
I found out that this happened, due to the harsh chemicals used in these creams and
products,” said Pillay.