Team Light-Skinned!

I used to think lighter skin tones attracted attention and so if I bleached my skin to a lighter shade, men would find me more attractive. I also believed the misconception that I somehow had better chances of succeeding in my career and in life generally. I was influenced by the epidemic of color prejudice in other countries where light-skinned women are mostly used in advertising campaigns and entertainment videos. Little did I know that a healthy, glowing skin is what’s most important and that beauty goes way beyond skin tones.

I convinced myself that I wanted to bleach my skin and this I did, against all advice and discouragements about the hazards of the act. At the time I began, I did not even have sufficient money to purchase the expensive bleaching creams and so I went to open markets to purchase creams recommended by mere traders. I would either buy cheap concoctions or I would mix creams. I did not realise that they contained ingredients ranging from steroids and hair relaxing properties, to peroxides used for bleaching hair, mercury and other dangerous chemicals

A few weeks later, my skin started changing visibly. I began to get lighter and I was truly happy. People started noticing the change. My friends, siblings and parents continued to warn me against bleaching but their pleas fell on deaf ears because I was enjoying the attention I was getting from my “new and improved complexion”.

A few months went by and I noticed I started having stretch marks and dark knuckles. I went back to the woman who had initially sold the products to me and this time, she recommended even more concoctions and mixed creams, including some skin whitening pills which I could afford at the time. She promised it would give me a much brighter, even toned complexion and would clear out the stretch marks and dark knuckles. On the contrary however, my skin started to experience even more severe damage with some stretch marks even extending to my face.

At this stage I was so bitter. I couldn’t wear anything I wanted and now had to wear clothes which revealed no skin. The beauty and attention I was crazy about initially had now diminished.

At this stage, my friend took me to a Medical Practitioner and Specialist in Aesthetic Medicine, Surgery and Dermatology who explained that there are several illegal ointments in the market that contain chemicals such as mercury which are toxic and could be lethal. She stated that several preparations which I had used do not even list all the contained ingredients. She also added that some chemicals contain dangerous ingredients which destroy the pigment producing cells and deposit in the body’s internal organs including the kidney and bone marrow in dangerously high and toxic levels and would leave devastating side effects. She further explained that the skin whitening pills which were to give me a much brighter, even toned complexion when taken regularly, contain Glutathione, as an active ingredient. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that naturally occurs in the body and is capable of protecting the skin as well as the cornea, lens and retina of the eye against radiation damage which is given to cancer. It also works for HIV patients and some other diseases where glutathione is depleted in the body. She added that patients on high dosage of Glutathione therapy had significant skin lightening as a side effect and that was why it was used as a bleaching ingredient.

I am still trying to repair my skin after these years and it is quite unlikely that I’d ever completely repair it, due to the extent of damage already done. I have learnt my lesson the hardest way, and I just want to warn the world .To anyone who cares to listen: the quest for lighter skin could cost you your life and has regrettable long term consequences.

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