Why it’s time all African countries took a stand on skin lightening creams

Below are extracts from an article in The Conversation (with thanks to Global Health Now). It is worth noting that governments have a legal obligation under international human rights law to ensure that citizens are fully informed of the health risks of skin lighteners, as demonstrated by HIFA and the New York Law School (http://www.hifa2015.org/hifa2015-and-human-rights/).

Why it’s time all African countries took a stand on skin lightening creams


‘Skin lighteners – used by up to 70% of women in parts of Africa – are damaging. In fact, the WHO has banned the active ingredients of skin lighteners – a hydroquinone and mercury?from being used in an any unregulated skin products.

‘“Unregulated products have significantly higher quantities of hydroquinone and mercury than those recommended by dermatologists,” he writes. “Using them could lead to liver and kidney failure or hyperpigmentation. There is also a risk of skin cancer . . . .”

‘Cote d’Ivoire has led the charge in tackling skin lighteners and has banned the practise nationally. It is time for the rest of the continent to follow…’

‘The motivation for using skin lighteners is linked to colonial history. Lightening one’s skin is perceived to come with increased privileges, higher social standing, better employment and increased marital prospects. This, coupled with influential marketing strategies from transnational cosmetic houses using iconic celebrities, increases the allure – primarily for women, but increasingly for men…’

‘The attraction to the practise is encouraged by overt advertising and the advent and influence of social media and mobile phones with roaming apps…’

‘… governments should encourage the view that being paler skinned isn’t a panacea and that black is beautiful too.’

Best wishes, Neil

Let’s build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare knowledge – Join HIFA: www.hifa2015.org


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