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Nigeria leads in global skin whitening use



Industry to hit $23 billion by 2020


Global Industry Analysts (GIA) reveals that skin-whitening business which was a $10 billion dollar industry in the year 2009 will become a $23 billion industry by the year 2020 growing by 130 percent in a decade.

Skin-whitening which was once derogated in Nigeria has become the trend of the day. A WHO statistics show that 76 million Nigerians, especially women, use skin-whitening products on a regular basis.

Also, World Health Organization estimated that out of the 40% African women that use skin lightening products in the world, with Nigeria is leading the race with 77%, Togo follows with 59% and South Africa emerges third with 35%.

This statistics has given credence to the popular belief that there is a high possibility of coming across varieties of skin whitening products in almost every cosmetics store in Nigeria.

Experts reveal that the Nigerian market of skin-whitening products is fast- expanding. What could be the cause of this alarming bleaching rate especially in Sub-Saharan Africa? Who is to blame for the recurring practice which fast becoming a societal epidemic? What should be done to tackle this menace before it becomes an uncontrollable situation?

In a recent interview with a dermatologist at the American Academy of Dermatology (PGD), Makanjuola Olayemi Solomon, a dermatologist, spoke to BusinessHallmark on the possible reasons for increase in the bleaching trend among Nigerians. Depression is seen as one of the topmost reasons for bleaching. “People with low self esteem see bleaching as a booster to try looking good and fight depression”, he said.

According to him, “everyone wants to measure up and live up to a so called expectation that even an average lady can save just to procure an expensive cream in order to measure up.” He explained that fear of social inequality especially among the women folk is one of the possible reasons for the increased rise in the use of skin-whitening creams.

Makanjuola revealed that unpleasant hereditary skin is one of the reasons why people will try out skin-whitening creams.  “Most folks naturally don’t have a good ski but harsh skins that naturally they’ve got patches around knuckles and on their feet, so there’s an obvious need to fight this, even as the melanin fights their back,” he explained.

He didn’t under-play the place of skin irritations in being one of the major reasons for the rising use of skin-whitening creams. Makanjuola also referenced the place of marks of injuries that stay for long even after childhood plays and how individuals use skin-whitening creams to clear those spots.

He however emphasised on the need for adequate sensitization by government, NGOs and educational bodies. He decried the shallow understanding of the effects of using skin-whitening creams especially among youths.

He advised Nigerian citizens not to forget the place of a dermatologist when choosing and using skin products, as there are varieties of skin products for different skin types.

It may interest you to know that skin-whitening is the use of cosmetics, drugs or any other chemical product to make one’s skin tone whiter or lighter. It is alternatively called skin-lightening or skin-bleaching. Over the years, skin whitening products has evolved, it all started with creams and soaps, however, the advent of injectables and drugs has given this business a new turn.

Men and women from all walks of life could get their skin whitened without using any cream or soap. It is also very important to note the growing trend of skin bleaching among pregnant women who bleach the skin of their babies from the womb.

Another interesting fact to note is that skin-whitening started as a practice among the whites. In the Victorian era, purity was largely attributed to being white and European women were known for applying lead paint on their faces to increase their whiteness.


Consequently, the practice grew further to become a trade, after the colonisation era and further spread of white ideologies into Africa. Following the promotion of this idea, the market grew exponentially to become the multi-billion dollar industry that we see today.




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