Search for "White" Skin Darkens African Women's Lives
Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2001
For thousands of dark-skinned women in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa the quest to look fairer-skinned has led to suffering and even disfigurement. Their looks and health are damaged by the skin lightening creams produced by European and American manufacturers and sold on the continent with little regard for their dangerous side effects.
Just as upsetting, most African governments have been slow to respond to the devastating effects of these dangerous cosmetic products. Take the case of the Kenya government, which has just released an exhaustive list of banned beauty products that have been in circulation for donkey years, warning the public to avoid products containing "mercury and its derivatives, hydroquinone (dihydrobenezene, benzenediol, quionol), oxidizing agents and hormonal preparations that are harmful to human use." The notice, issued by the Kenyan Bureau of Standards (KEBS), went on to note that mercury's poisonous effects on the kidney, brain, mouth and liver have earned it a worldwide ban for use in cosmetics.
"It is a shame that the government took this long to realize the side effects of the dangerous creams," says Lorna Chebet, a news reporter with the government's Kenya News Agency. Chebet says she began using one of the banned creams upon the recommendation of a friend. But before she had finished the first tube, she had developed rashes that later turned into painful blemishes requiring the special care of a dermatologist. The black spots still have not disappeared from her face. [More]