The Dark Side of Skin Lightening & Bleaching

One of the most controversial topics surrounding skincare in South Africa today is skin bleaching and skin lightening. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the differences and dangers in these procedures, creating many uncertain and uneasy feelings toward the subject, while making way for illegal products to infiltrate the market.

Unfortunately, some of these black market products contain banned ingredients like mercury, or very high doses of hydroquinone which consumers may not be aware of.

Always consult your dermatologist before performing any complexion-altering procedures.

What are the possible dangers of using these products?

There are many risks associated with skin lightening lotions. These risks come in the form of thinning of the skin, visible blood vessels, breakouts, darkening of skin and extreme lightening of the skin.

In extreme cases, they can affect more than just the skin and can lead to kidney, liver or nerve damage and even abnormalities in a newborn baby, if used during pregnancy.

Why can’t any of these products be trusted?

Some of these products have been analyzed independently banned or illegal substances have been identified. With specific reference to the “Gentle Magic” product as that is what most comments were on these studies found some batches to contain these banned substances while some samples were free of this. So the question remains: “Does this only apply to counterfeit batches sold on the black market only or not?”.

How many people experience these side effects?

However, the fact of the matter is that I have seen far too many patients with complications from these products to ignore it. Treating the problem is far more costly than prevention, hence as a specialist in the field  I have made it my duty to caution people.

Is there a safe way to lighten my skin?

I strongly advise that you consult your skincare expert/dermatologist for a product recommendation especially when you have a skin problem rather than treat yourself.

You can buy sweets, fizzy drinks, alcohol and cigarettes at your local stores, that doesn’t mean they’re good for your health. It’s the same with skincare products, just because they’re available at pharmacies it doesn’t mean they’re good for your skin.

Many people only think that black market products contain bad substances because they are counterfeit, no one really knows, so it’s important to exercise caution when buying any skincare products.

Yes, unfortunately, some of the products can be expensive but we can’t really compromise if you have a serious skin condition. Specific products that we can recommend will depend on your skin type and your skin problem. Unfortunately, it is not a one hat fits all type of situation.

Yes, you may have used it for years without a problem, and that’s good for you. The truth of the matter is that our skin needs are different and what works for you may not work for me.

There are just too many patients who I have seen with complications to ignore it. Even medical products prescribed by us dermatologists may not agree with you but these are usually documented and we advise the clients about it and manage it correctly. The problem with black market products is that there is no regulation and most contain banned substances and some consumers use it not knowing the possible risks.

These products contain steroids or are steroids and are not meant to be used for long periods of time. In the beginning, the products make your skin look really good, the problem starts when you have to stop using them after a long time. The skin becomes dependent on the steroid and reacts when deprived of it, like a drug addict.



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