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Abidjan and Lightening Cremes

Photo Courtsey of AFP Simon Maina


Lightening or bleaching the skin is not just in the U.S., many on the Ivory Coast in West Africa go to great lengths in chasing the dream to attain lighter skin.  Ivorians, as they like to call themselves, use lightening/bleaching agents because they think light-skinned women are the most beautiful and the lighter the skin, the better chances they will have in life.  They hope that lighter skin will improve their chances for marriage, employment, modeling jobs and the movie industry.

African countries like Abidjan and Nigeria have the highest use of lightening creams followed by other countries such as India, Pakistan and Asia.  In April 2015, the Ivory Coast put a ban on lightening creams, especially those that contain mercury, cortisone, Vitamin A and hydroquinone of more than 2%.  These ingredients can lead to hypertension, diabetes, and cancer.  As you can see in the picture above, individuals are applying the products liberally and some more than once a day.

The African companies who manufacture the lightening creams know their products carry risks, but continue to push their products because if they did not, people would find other means to lighten their skin making the problem worse.  These companies stand to lose lots of money, but at least, know the product composition (that’s their rationale for continuing to make the products).  The African government is really trying to get information out to people of the dangers, but have not been successful in banning any of the products.

The search for lighter skin is nothing new.  In the U.S., individuals with lighter skin have always been highly favored for magazines ads, television (commercials and television shows) and the movie industry, until recently.  Do your research and look at U.S. celebrities who have been reported to using lightening/bleaching agents.

To read more on this topic, click on the following links:

ENCA. (2015). “Ivorians ignore ban on lightening creams in pursuit of white skin”. Retrieved August 12, 2015, from: http://www.enca.com/africa/ivorians-ignore-ban-lightening-creams-pursuit-white-skin

Agence France-Presse. (2015). “Ivory Coast banks skin whitening creams”. Retrieved August 12, 2015, from: http://women.mg.co.za/ivory-coast-bans-skin-whitening-creams/