Many manufacturers do not advise consumers of the side effects to buying and using these skin-whitening also known as bleaching creams.
Substances containing Hydroquinone and Mercury are banned from being sold over-the-counter because they can cause liver, nerve, and fetal damage.
Hydroquinone, oxidizing agents, and hormonal preparations are used for treating various medical conditions. Therefore, they are classified as drugs and should be applied only upon the advice and direction of a medical doctor.
According to Kenya Bureau of Standards (KBS), All skin care preparations like creams, lotions, gels, soaps, etc containing hydroquinone, steroids, and hormonal preparations should be registered by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of the Ministry of Health for medical use. Their use in cosmetics was banned in November 2000.”
Mercury became a go-to whitening agent for its ability to inhibit the formation of melanin when applied to one’s skin. It was cheap, readily available and seemed to get the job done, but the story didn’t end there.
Mercury was soon classified as a toxin by the FDA because of the increasing number of reports of mercury affecting a lot more than your skin. It has been shown to cause kidney damage; it can also lead to excessive scarring and skin discoloration.
In extreme cases, it even peels of the outer layer of skin and gives one a blue-grey complexion.
Hydroquinone: It functions as a melanin inhibitor by giving the Tyrosinase in your body something else to attach to, thereby preventing the formation of excess melanin. This excess melanin, when clumped together forms dark spots on the skin. It’s also one of the few skin whitening products that consistently lightens skin within a specified period of time (8-12 weeks).
Skin Light Bright noted that per Dermatologists, “a dosage of 2% or less of this chemical is safe for the skin. For those with more severe cases of discoloration, doctors can prescribe creams with up to 4% Hydroquinone content.”
Unfortunately, most of the skin products made from Africa with Hydroquinone as the main ingredients has a mixture of Mercury AND steroids in them.
Funbeaut-A is a Nigeria-manufactured product that contains 3% hydroquinone, ; it is banned from UK shops.
Mariam, 22, went to a local shop to purchase the creams. She did not read the ingredients, but just picked the products based on the skin color of the lady on the bottle, assuming they were safe to use.
Mariam and her friend Arlene stopped using the products before they had damaging health consequences; however, they were shocked the illegal products were sold so openly in the shops.
Monobenzone drug tries to even out the skin lightening that Vitiligo causes. It was popularized by the late king of Pop, Michael Jackson, one of the celebs with Vitiligo.
However, Monobenzone has been proven by scientists to cause an increase to sun sensitivity and skin depigmentation. This is perhaps the main reason MJ avoided sunlight, wore full clothing, including gloves – which later became fashion statements. Also, this ‘remedy’ is only temporary because it has no measurable effect on the follicular reserve. In other words, the dark spots and blemish will reappear even when it is continually used.
Some shop owners try to sell products with monobenzone infusions as over the counter skin-lightening cure. Another harmful effect of monobenzone drug and creams is the depigmentation of skin and its transfer to those around you by skin contact. That’s right! Family members can contract skin depigmentation too.
“This is something that needs to be highly monitored and regulated, because people can die from these creams,” Mariam (above) noted. Another ex-consumer, Safi shared her story of how she almost died using the bleaching creams. She was hospitalized for a week due to scarring of her skin and was placed on Antibiotics. She spent about 6 weeks at home in recovery.
Skincare is important, and if you plan to use a skin lightening cream for medicinal purposes, then do it right. Many manufacturers do not advise consumers of the side effects to buying and using these skin-whitening creams. But, now you know.