Skin lightening: What you need to know

[PHOTO: COURTESY]
Skin lightening is popular in many parts of the world, including Africa.
However, medical experts have warned those who intend to try it out of the hazards that may come with the practice.
Although safer skin lightening methods exist, many of the bleaching and lightening products used in Africa contain harmful ingredients such as mercury and high-dosage of steroids.
A research done by World Health Organisation (WHO) last year revealed that 77 per cent of women in Nigeria use skin lightening products, the world’s highest per centage.
Several African countries such as Rwanda have recently banned the use of skin lightening products.
How skin lightening works
The main aim of skin lightening is not to bleach your skin, but to fade out unwanted blemishes by inhibiting melanin, which gives color to the skin.
Skin lightening products which are also known as skin whiteners are normally used for the lightening process.
What is Skin Bleaching?
Skin bleaching is the cosmetic treatment done to reduce the prominence of skin discolorations.
Bleaching creams can be bought over the counter and also by prescription.
But will banning bleaching products completely solve the problem of unsafe skin bleaching?
 Researchers have come out to explain that women don’t bleach their skin simply because they are vain.
They lighten their skin because fair skin is too often seen as more attractive.
Researchers have also argued that bleaching completely destroys the amount of melanin in our skin making it more vulnerable to ailments such as skin cancer.

[PHOTO: COURTESY]
Natural is best
There are various methods that one can use to brighten their skin.
Though it takes longer and the results are gradual, the methods promote overall skin health and will help give ones skin a natural glow.
The methods are:
1.    Use of lemon juice
2.    Washing ones face with honey
3.    The use of yogurt mask

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Skin lighteningAfricaWorld Health Organisation