Many people especially women struggle with body image issues. Some would like to be thinner, bigger, taller, or shorter than they are. Others however would want to, some had already become, lighter than they actually are. Bleaching, a beauty trend that has existed for decades and has ‘advanced’ over the years is something many women want have thought of doing, all in the name of wanting to become lighter, and perceiving this to be the definition and standard of what beautiful is.
While bleaching is something known to many, we look at its effects and dangers, and why it’s more of a problem than a beauty solution.
Dr. Evanson Kamuri, a Dermatologist based in Nairobi, says “It has very many side effects, some we don’t even know.” In explaining the kind of toxins that are inside most of the bleaching creams and capsules sold in various beauty shops and chemists he said “They actually take steroids which are usually sold for diseases like eczema, sclerosis, and such. They take the creams and put them in jars. They then crush hydroquinone (a topical skin-bleaching agent used in the cosmetic treatment of hyperpigmented skin conditions.) and put it in. They take one of the beauty products, they can even use one of the scented lotions so that it adds the scent.”
The mixtures of the various substances used to make bleaching creams and capsules are in high quantities and can be dangerous to our bodies. Dr. Kamuri states that bleaching was popular in the 70s and that the side effects are being seen now, and are now being managed.
That said, could it be that today’s generation is oblivious to the fact that they will also grow old someday and that their bodies could reflect the damage they are causing now. According to doctor Kimuru, he says “unfortunately the age between 20 years to 35 years, that’s the worse affected age.”
Other than creams, some of the bleaching agents used by clients come in the form of injections, capsules, and powders. The injection for example contains a high amount of Niacinamide – commonly known as Vitamin B3 and nicotinamide. Dr. Kamuri says “when too much you get what we call hypervitaminosis and the effects of this is that it can affect any of your organs, that is, the eyes, a great chance of affecting your heart, blood pressure and also kidneys.”
The capsules, also sold as part of the bleaching package contain Vitamin E supplement and camphor which is a common antiseptic. Dr. Kimuri continues to explain “It is not supposed to be eaten. Camphor is found in trees. Most drugs are extracted from trees. But when you use it for the purpose of bleaching it is used in very high doses and is used when you don’t have any other indication and we end up having more contraindication.”
‘Careful what you wish for’, they say, or it might just come true. In this case, you may not know what you are wishing for.