Normally, I don’t post anything new until Thursday. Once my work deadlines are met, I can return to the calming safety of Afrobella. But I got this in an e mail and I had to share. It seems that the FDA wants to ban the use of over-the-counter skin bleach. I suppose the possible reasons could include the countenance of women like this, who have been applying ointments with high levels of hydroquinone to their skin, in an effort to conform to African standards of “beauty.”

Needless to say, dermatologists are opposing the FDA’s findings. This great article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette illustrates the hot-button issue:

Consumers use the products to self-treat freckles, liver spots, melasma (the so-called mask of pregnancy), and dark marks resulting from acne or burns. Hydroquinone is also one treatment for the pigmentation disorder vitiligo, which leaves white patches on various parts of the body. Doctors prescribe the agent in higher concentrations. Now the FDA is describing hydroquinone as a possible carcinogen, and also saying it has documented links to a skin-disfiguring condition called ochronosis.

The product was banned in South Africa, where advertisements portrayed lighter skin as the key to love and success; some users wound up instead with splotches, grayish spots, pebbly bumps and abnormal thickness. But Dr. Taylor said ochronosis rarely occurs in the United States.

“Most reports have been from Africa after a prolonged period of daily use — sometimes 10 to 40 years — and in high concentrations. In this country, there have been maybe 200 cases out of millions of users. To me, that means it is a very infrequent problem.”

40 years is a hell of a long time to continuously use a product.

Of course skin bleach can help people who are physically disfigured. My mother used it on her legs for years, after a gas stove explosion left her with second degree burns. (That was the scariest noise ever to my then seven-year-old ears). But my issue with these products is the message that millions of women receive: that you need to apply a special cream to your face every day in order to somehow be beautiful, accepted, desired, and successful. That cancer is somehow a negligible concern in the attempt to achieve such superficial goals. Personally, I’ll be glad to see the whitenizers go. It probably won’t do much to change our views on what beautiful is, but I am sure that more women will have to look in the mirror and accept their natural skin color. Hopefully they will be able to see their inner beauty, and embrace themselves for exactly who they are.

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70ssoulchild says:
September 20, 2006, 10:59 am
Wow..what an education on skin lighteners..I had no idea they could do such damage to one's skin..If this helps women accept their natural skin color, I say bring on the ban.
Coffy says:
September 20, 2006, 11:34 am
these products are also very popular in India, and they are currently having the same debate. the photos of the skin damamge, is just freaky. oh and forty years, ok if after two weeks you don't see a change it may be time to discontinue use.
beautiful&black says:
September 20, 2006, 6:14 pm
Fair & White is no joke! A skin clinic I worked at in Los Angeles use to sell it. Since it's not available in the U.S., the owners had it imported. We could not keep that stuff in stock! Fair & White is very effective in fading discoloration, and giving you and even skin tone. I used the product and loved it. My skin was flawless! However, we had several clients - most of them were from Africa or the Carribean - who were determined to be "lightskinned." Talk about sad. These sisters had beautiful chocolate skin.
Jerseybred says:
September 22, 2006, 1:15 pm
The picture above should be inserted into the packing of these creams. I believe this would stop misusage.
Don Kingston says:
September 7, 2007, 3:28 am
The problems that the south africans were experiencing was because they are not intended to use hydroquinone. Hyrdroquinone is for temporary use, as in a white person who needs to fade a freckle. She uses the ointment for a few weeks, fades it, then uses sunscreet to prevent it from coming back. In a dark skinned individual, the melanin in the skin is not like a removable freckle in a white person. Their entire skin surface is, in essance, one melanin surface. Thus, even if they temporarily lighten it, the skin will come back in black as ever. - Dr. Kingston
Francois Diedericks says:
February 18, 2008, 10:13 am
Would these creams help for acne. I don't have the problem but if the cream works, would recommend it to subscribers on my webpage.
Dotty says:
November 4, 2008, 2:20 pm
What I Don't Understand Is That, They Want To Ban Bleaching Creams Yet They Still Continue To Sell Ciggarrettes. This Contradicts The Entire Point Of Banning Fade Creams. They Want To Ban Creams Because They Say They Can Cause Cancer, Yet All They Do Is Make Commercials About How Bad Ciggarrette Smoke/Second-Hand Smoke Is, Still Giving The Consumer A Choice Weather Or Not To Purchase A Box Of Ciggarrettes. I Just Don't Understand. A Smoker Affects Everyone Around Them Including Themselves. A Person Using "Bleaching Cream" Is Not Affecting Anyone But Themselves When Applying It. So Stop Selling Something That Actually Has A Point That "May" or "May Not" Cause Cancer, But Keep The Other Thing Around That's Been proven to cause Cancer. WTF?
Gina says:
February 4, 2010, 12:51 am
I have been reading lots of reports about the terrible side effects over the counter hydroquinone creams are causing in African women and felt i needed to point something out. What the reports fail to mention is that many women in some West Africa countries mix these creams with toxic products to make them strong. I have personally seen women mix creams with hair realxers, dish washing soap, shampoo, dermovate, betnovate to name a few, in their quest to become white. There are women who would cover their whole bodies in dishwashing liguid and cover the skin with cling flim and suffer excruciating pain overnight, and then peel off her skin exposing pink raw flesh and after a few days start using the over the counter creams on the "baby skin" as they call it. I am not saying the creams are good, i am just surprised that none of the reports ever mention these practices, or wonder why it just happens to women in African countries. Hardly any of them use "just" the cream, or any form of sunblock.
Anna says:
April 10, 2010, 1:44 pm
Unfortunately most of the arguments against skin fade/bleach creams imply that all users want to be 'white or fair' skin toned. There are some people who just want a safe effective way to treat Hyperpigmentation, a side effect of healed trauma on melanin rich skin. It leaves unsightly dark marks and bloches; even something as innocuous as healed acne or pimple can scar one for life ! We haven't spoken about melasma, chicken pox marks etc. There is a need for safe alternatives to even the skin tone in such circumstances...
cheree says:
October 5, 2010, 9:20 am
Wow! I respect your feelings about lightening creams, howbeit i could not find an agreement with you.I am currently using a prescription form of hydroquinone and I have been on and off for 3 yrs. As a child I was taunted and teased for my dark complexion to the point of depression as an early teen and young adult. I always dreaded summer because I knew I would be darker, and the other children were relentless. These were other black children always! The boys could not see past my deep complexion, and I was the but of EVERY "blackie" joke. my friends were white, and could not understand this behavior. It is still a part of black culture today, so stop being so small minded about other peoples complexion issues YOU may or may not have walked in mine and many others shoes,so you haven't a clue of the psycological and or physical as well as social benefits of hydroquinone. I am safely using this cream per physicians orders, and hopeful people like you and others cannot BAN, as you say, this product in the USA. No disrespect but you dont know peoples story before you form complete opinions. Good day!
cheree says:
October 5, 2010, 9:43 am
And furthermore, how can you implie that women should be forced to look in the mirror and except there own reflection or whatever! I think most people realize there not perfect,but no one has the right to tell someone "look again", at the validity of self improvment desires. I for one know that society has many relevant and irrelevant expectations from each culture,etc. and as an African woman perhaps Afro's and colorful attire is your plea for social acceptance within your social circle. I could no doubt find some hazzards and concern about afro's and fabric dyes,lol, and photos of persons effected by this or that product in afro mantinence creams and colorful fabric dyes, and no doubt could have a compelling article. I am happy to be a young Black woman and even happier to have a fairer complexion. As a mother,and wife I am thankful for social acceptance in my circle, black folks tend to treat this complexion better, God help us, so be it!
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