The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) of Ghana has resolved to ban the import and sale of cosmetic products which include the skin bleaching ingredient hydroquinone, starting out from August 2016. Cote d’Ivoire first led the charge to tackle skin bleaching in Africa by banning the practice within their country.
The Ghanaian Food and Drug Authority said the decision was part of a directive from the state’s Standard Authority which is attempting to deter users of the cancer-causing chemical within the Ghanaian market.
FDA spokesperson James Lartey who confirmed the ban on the importation of skin bleaching products to news media said all products containing hydroquinone will not be allowed into the country from August of that year.
The issue of colourism which refers to the preference of lighter skin over dark skin has since taken hold even in Africa. Over 70% of women use skin lightening products in parts of Africa and the World Health Organisation has banned active ingredients of skin lighteners – hydroquinone and mercury from being used in any unregulated skin products.
To that end, the use of hydroquinone products has been banned in the United States, Japan, Australia and the European Union, putting Ghana in a very good company. Many people continue to laud the news of Ghana’s decision on social media but some others question the point of the government’s decision to intervene in what they consider a private matter.
The use of skin bleaching products cannot be categorized as private, however, because the chemical, cancer-causing elements contained in most of those products are detrimental to the health of the individual and therefore lead up to public health concerns.
In case you are still adamant on using bleaching cream, you may need to get some education, see what you are doing or about to do to yourself before you continue.
Ingredients In Skin Bleaching Products
Almost all bleaching products contain either of these three active ingredients – namely Mercury, Hydroquinone or various corticosteroids. Hydroquinone is a toxic compound easily available in 2% concentrations for cosmetic use and up to 4% or more with a physician prescription.
Hydroquinone is found in a majority of hair dyes, it is used in black and white film and its processing, it is also used in the manufacturing of rubber. Hydroquinone is not actually that bad as it is very effective in treating hyperpigmentation issues but studies have also shown that it has some carcinogenic effects when applied to the skin.
Mercury is another toxic chemical that is readily absorbed by the human body. It is often used in various skin lightening products as plain mercury, mercuric, mercurio, calomel or mercurous chloride.
A vast majority of the skin-lightening products also contain significant amounts of corticosteroids.
Dangers Of These Ingredients
- Hydroquinone reduces the production of melanin in your skin and when used for a long time can cause exogenous ochronosis (blue-black dark patches on certain areas of the skin). it can also damage the pigment cells
- It makes the skin more sensitive to the UV rays of the sun. This makes the users of skin lightening products more prone to serious sunburns and skin cancers.
- Hydroquinone also known as mutagenic is said to significantly increase the risk of diseases such as adrenal dysfunction, liver diseases and has also been connected to various thyroid disorders.
- Research has also shown that Hydroquinone has clear carcinogenic properties and is known to cause leukaemia in mice and other animals.
- Mercury-based skin lightening products can cause serious skin discolouration and hyperpigmentation along with severe scarring
- Prolonged use of mercury-based products can also affect the systemic health in that it is closely associated with psychosis, depression and kidney dysfunction.
- High-doses of corticosteroids slows down the skin cell regeneration leading to a thinning of the topmost layer of the skin or the epidermis. This makes people who use skin bleaching products more susceptible to sun damage and various pigmentation issues, it can also lead to the increased visibility of the green/blue veins of the body.