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Skin-Lightening Scandal: A Silent Killer Of Women Today

The history of skin- lightening creams in South Africa, begins with industrious though they are arguably morally impaired. Brothers Abe and Solly Krok who began their empire selling these products to the black community during apartheid made their first million.

 Women have been lightening their skin for decades – mainly by using questionable products in search of a blemish free and lighter skin tone.

A lot of women are unaware of the health hazards associated with using these often-dangerous skin-bleaching products.

The conundrum lies in the products that are used to formulate skin bleaching creams and the likes. Many include mercury, cortisone and hydroquinone; chemicals linked to skin cancer, high blood pressure, thinning of the skin, other forms of cancer, kidney and liver failure.

A recent study by the University of Cape Town suggests that one woman in every three in South Africa bleaches her skin. The reasons for this are as varied as the cultures in this country but most people say they use skin-lighteners because they want “white skin”.

The worrying trend is also being perpetuated by our celebrities like actress who acknowledged that they are using skin lightening procedures, and there are some celebrities that people are speculating they use them.

The products used range from skin-lightening pills, soaps, supplements, surgeries and injections.

The notion of beauty has captured the world’s attention in modern society. The media has been criticized for dishing out ideas that epitomize beauty on advertisements, movies, music videos etc.; thus disqualifying other notions of self-presentation in the process. In South Africa the concept of ‘yellow bones’ has dominated the perception of what beauty should look like among black women.

Although measures such as bans on products, ingredients and advertising, as well as “black is beautiful” campaigns, there still needs to be a lot of awareness to be done in order to break this phenomenon. 

Therefore it will take time before skin lightening products are abandoned due to racial laws, damaged national psyches, exported Hollywood beauty standards and the idea that a quick-fix cream has the ability to change social circumstances, an outcome of entrenched racism as damaging to the mind as they are to the body

There is also a very large unregulated informal beauty industry where young women buy these creams seems.

It is against this background Danné Montague-King (DMK); a skin care brand seeks to educate women on the importance of having and maintaining a healthier skin as a key to a bright radiant skin.

The company seeks to empower women to be proud of their natural skin, encourage them to maintain it as healthy as possible, highlight and showcase the devastating effects of skin bleaching.

DMK will host a roundtable discussion on the 25th of June where young women will be invited to share their perceptions and find solutions to this silent killer.

The devastating effect of skin bleaching leaves a lot to be desired and ought to be abhorred rather than encouraged. Beauty is not defined by only outer looks but the entirety of one’s personality and therefore light skin cannot set the benchmark for beauty.

For more information please contact Busisiwe Nhleko at, or on 087 806 8568.



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