Have you ever been asked this question before? If not, take time to think about it. Well, you may have just told yourself Yes, I love my skin or no I don’t. If you are like me the “I don’t care” friend, you might have concluded, “I don’t care”. Believe it or not, insofar as you use a skincare product after you shower and moisturise your feet and hands or during the harmattan, YOU DO CARE!!!
We all care about how our skin looks and feels, even though others go through greater lengths in attaining the skin feel and look they want. The desire for our skin to look and feel beautiful is what has fuelled the skincare industry for centuries. It is estimated that the skin care industry has a market share of over 128 billion U.S dollars and still growing.
We spend time and money on our skin, whether we are city dwellers with access to a wide variety of skin care products and brands or, rural habitats. Skin care rituals did not start today. Ancient Egyptians were famous for their beauty rituals 5,000rituals 5,000 years ago. Cleopatra’s skin care techniques such as milk baths, honey face masks and clay masks were so progressive that, they are still pertinent today. While t both local and foreign or like the women from the Himba tribe of Namibia who spend time smearing their skin with butterfat and red clay to enhance their beauty and protect their skin from the scorching heat of the desert sun and insects, northern Ghanaian women especially swear by the shea butter. Although it may seem like a trend that picked up the pace just two to three decades ago, you may be surprised to know that the idea of caring for your skin dates back thousands of years. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the history of skin care and cosmetics goes as far as the hunter and gatherer days of mankind.
As the largest organ in our body, the skin protects muscles, bones, ligaments, internal organs, insulates the body, regulates body temperature, facilitate synthesis of vitamin D, and the protection of vitamin B folates and plays an important immunity role in protecting the body against microorganisms.
In this age of selfies and social media, we find ourselves under a lot of pressure to compete with peacocks and flaunt a flawless skin. Having a healthy skin makes you feel good and confident about yourself. The desire for beautiful skin has led to the advancement and development of products and a thirst for cosmetic procedures such as laser resurfacing, mechanical resurfacing, chemical peels and injectable products with the with ingredients that aim to improve the look and feel of the skin. Many of the ingredients used today in various skincare and cosmetic products are gaining attention because of the negative effects it can have on our skin and health. One of these trends involves the use of skin lightening products to lighten or /bleach the skin. Lighter skin is often associated with, beauty, romance and even linked to career success in some parts of the world. In an interview with Ebony magazine in February 2018, Matthew Knowles credits his daughter Beyoncé’s success to her light skin. The conversation on Skin lightening should be loud enough as it is one of the least talked about public health concerns of our time, especially in Africa and Asia. The skin bleaching industry is worth an estimated 17 billion U.S dollars annually.
Some of the most dangerous ingredients used in skin lighting creams are Hydroquinone, Steroids and Mercury. Creams containing hydroquinone are banned in Europe and most parts of the world due to its harmful side effects. Some of the health complications resulting from these skin lighting/bleaching products include skin cancer, exogenous ochronosis (large blackish decolourization of the skin), impaired wound healing, fish odour syndrome etc. Skin lightening creams have left many with lasting irreversible damage to their skin.
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. 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) have been out there for years. Clearly, the FDA is not winning the fight against dumping of these harmful products on our markets. It is therefore a crusade we need to embark on individually.
It is time to dump the mindset of “Fair is lovely” and embrace our true selves for its worth. Not only does this help us make wise choices with regards to skin care products, but it also instils in us a sense of self-worth.
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 shades.
So don’t just buy skin care products, look out for the right product with healthy naturally occurring ingredients that offer health benefits to the skin.
I will like to re-echo the words of Sir Thomas Overbury, “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep”.
with Love for Life