Nairobi’s River Road is a street famous for cheap products and a majority of those are bleaching agents sold to Kenyans who will spend their last penny to look like the whites irrespective of the health consequences.
“Madam ya kutoa sunburn, ya kutoa tint! (To clear the sunburn, to clear the black color in your skin)” is a statement that is synonymous around River road. Little awareness is made regarding the products that are freely sold and contain very high levels of chemicals which expose users to skin cancer.
The products contain harmful chemicals that range from mercury; cortisone and hydroquinone. Research has linked the three chemicals to skin cancer, high blood pressure, thinning of the skin, kidney and liver failure.
To eliminate the bleaching products, Rwanda has deployed the Rwanda National Police to work together with the country’s Ministry of Health, Rwanda Investigative Bureau, Rwanda Food and Drug Authority, and Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) among other agencies that will help crack down on 1,342 prohibited brands in Rwanda.
These products target the uninformed and naïve members of society who have been brainwashed to accept that skin color could be a measure of beauty.
The media has largely been blamed for this notion through advertising which has mostly been done by light skin models. News anchors and media personalities are often the light skin ladies and gents. Sales jobs especially those that involve cosmetics do not shy away from stating that they are seeking light skin ladies to market their products, creating out a feeling that beauty is indeed measured in skin color.
Rwanda has led the way in its fight against these harmful products to avoid a much bigger problem tomorrow, whether Kenya and the rest of Africa will follow suit and save its coming generations from falling into a health crisis is yet to be seen. For now, all we can do is inform a sister to inform a sister, BEWARE of the content in your cosmetic products.