Rwanda is the latest African country to ban skin-bleaching creams and they are sending out officials across the country to seize the products. The government has banned importation of bleaching products and law enforcement officials are patrolling areas where they are sold.
The governments consider bleaching creams physically and psychologically harmful. They are physically harmful because their use can cause long-term skin, liver and kidney damage. Women often use them because they want to look white.
The products are psychologically unhealthy because their manufacture, sale, and use reinforce the pervasive social bias that lighter skin is more attractive and that darker-skinned women are less desirable.
Rwanda has seized more than 5,000 banned bleaching products, including lotions, oils, soaps and sprays from beauty shops across the country.
Skin bleaching creams are big business in the Africa and the Middle East. The market is expected to reach $31.2 billion by 2024 compared with $17.9 billion in 2017.
Television actress Blac Chyna recently launched in Lagos, Nigeria, a cream product that lightens the skin without bleaching it. Whitenicious was introduced to the market there in November. Considered a luxury product, the cream costs $350 per 3.5-ounce jar.
NPR reported that according to a 2011 report released by the World Health Organization, 77 percent of Nigerian women use skin-lightening products, many of which have been banned because they contain skin-damaging and health-endangering ingredients like steroids and mercury. The World Health Organization also reports that 4 out 10 women in Africa use bleaching creams.
Chyna, 30, denies her skin cream contains unsafe ingredients.
Chyna’s Whitenicious business partner is Cameroonian singer, Dencia.