By: Ms. Angela Osei-Badu
Skin. Do you know it’s the largest organ of your body? It is your first line of defense against the elements of the weather. It shields your internal organs, keeps germs out and makes you feel the warmth and billion electrical sparks when touched by that special person.
The idea of caring for the skin is hard-wired into our DNA and dates back thousands of years. No wonder skincare rituals dating as far back as 5,000 years ago from Ancient Egypt are still famous. Cleopatra, one of the most famous women in history, is well known for her beauty, intellect and flawless skin. Her skin care techniques such as milk baths, honey face masks, salt scrubs and shea butter moisturizing were so progressive that, they are still pertinent today. Oh yer! They are not new, the face mask you use on your face today is not new at all.
Everyone spends time and money on grooming their skin, whether we are city dwellers with access to a wide variety of skin care products and brands or simple rural inhabitants. Caring for our skin is something we all do on a daily basis, even though others go through greater lengths in attaining the skin look and feel they want. Our desire for our skin to look and feel beautiful has fueled the skincare industry which has an estimated market share of over 141 billion U.S dollars and still growing.
In today’s selfie crazed world where we continuously try to flaunt ourselves better than peacocks do, we are under a lot of pressure to look perfect and beautiful. However, the way we decide to parade ourselves, whether clothed or nude, the one thing which stands out is the skin.
It is as clear as day that Hollywood sweetheart Lupita Nyong’o for instance, takes care of her skin; heck her shiny black skin speaks volumes. To say black skin is beautiful is an understatement…
It is time to dump the mindset of “Fair is lovely” and embrace our true selves for its worth. You do not need to be fair to be bold and beautiful, neither do you have to look tanned to look sexy and charming. All you need is to be confident in the skin you are wearing, by making wise choices with regards to the skin care products you use.
The trend of skin lightening (some prefer the phrase skin toning because it sounds nicer and makes them feel less guilty) has become the norm of the day. What we have failed to realise is the canker this trend is. From creating deep self-esteem issues for especially young girls to freely welcoming health complications there should be a louder conversation about chemicals and the poison imported into the country all under the guise of cosmetic products. Not all the body creams and lotions give you the skin-feel of a baby; not all make you glow like an angel. According to the FDA Some of the ingredients used in skin lightening creams that are dangerous to your skin and health include Hydroquinone, Steroids, and Mercury. They are known to cause skin cancer, exogenous ochronosis (large blackish decolorization of the skin), impaired wound healing, fish odour syndrome, liver toxicity, permanent neurological damage in children, kidney toxicity, fertility problems, etc, the harm these products cause is endless. Skin lightening creams have left many people with lasting irreversible damage to their skin.
Creams containing hydroquinone are banned in Europe and most parts of the world due to its harmful side effects. Why then don’t we take care of our skin, so we do not get to the point where we have to spend a lot of time and money on procedures like laser resurfacing, mechanical resurfacing, chemical peels and daily doses of medicine and injectable products? These procedures which are as painful as pain can be, sometimes, do not even provide permanent solutions and sometimes even double the complications.
In efforts to help curb this growing public health issue, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) in Ghana recently warned the public against using some 41 cosmetic products which are been sold like hotcakes on the market. The FDA also directed the producers of these products to recall them from the market with immediate effect. (Follow the attached link to read about the banned products and their effects on your skin and health. https://fdaghana.gov.gh/images/stories/pdfs/Press%20release/PRESS%20RELEASE%202.pdf)
It is alarming to know for instance products such as Peau Claire Lightening Body Cream (BN: 3926) (Clobetasol, Hydroquinone) Bioskin Lightening Body Lotion (BN: 847) (Clobetasol, Hydroquinone) has been out there for years. Clearly, the FDA is not winning the fight against some traders who are dumping these harmful products on our markets. It is, therefore, a crusade we all need to embark on both individually and collectively as a country.
Let’s join in raising awareness on the side effects of skin lighting and bleaching and its overreaching psychological and socio-economic effects on persons with darker skin. Let us promote skin positivity and self-worth.
So, don’t just buy skin care products, look out for the right product with wholesome naturally occurring ingredients that offer benefits to the skin. Don’t forget to read what is written on any product! You owe your skin that.
Before you use any skin product, I hope the words of Sir Thomas Overbury echoes in your mind, “Beauty is only Skin Deep”.
with Love for Life
Image Credit: CliqKofi Photography