A Letter to All Women of African Descent: 10 Reasons Why Hydroquinone is Bad for Your Skin!

An important message to all women of African Descent:  Dear sisters, please! please! please! Learn to love the beautiful skin you’re in; dark, brown, light. Just own it! There’s nothing wrong in wanting to look your radiant best but use healthy and sustainable products or methods.

There is a big difference between seeking a glowing, healthy and even-toned skin and an unhealthy fixation on becoming light-skinned by using harmful skin products/chemicals. The former comes from a place of ‘wholeness’ while the often latter stems from a deep-seated sense of  ‘insecurity’ and ‘unworthiness’.

“Take good care of your skin, for it houses your body, and your body is the only true home you’ll ever reside in. For as long as you are alive, it is the home that you can never run away from.”
-Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido, Co-Founder, Whole Woman Network

There was a recent study done at the University of Capetown that suggests 1 in 3 women in South Africa bleaches her skin. Unconfirmed reports from the Nigerian National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), also suggests that 77% of Nigerian women bleach their skin! There are similar stories in Ghana, Liberia, Senegal etc. All across Africa and even Asia, the habit of skin-bleaching is becoming more and more prevalent.

Look around you and the signs are everywhere. You probably know a friend, aunty, sister, neighbour, colleague who is fixated on skin-bleaching.

Nadia Buari

Nadia Buari

For women of African descent, the scourge of skin bleaching is made worse because most women (and even men!) use creams made with the potent bleaching agent: Hydroquinone.

Some important facts about Hydroquinone:

1.  Hydroquinone works by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase, which is important in skin pigment (melanin) development. It is important to be aware that Melanin actually provides protection against UV radiation. It is more effective than any sunscreen known to man. It diffuses UV radiation and turns it into harmless heat.

2. Combining Hydroquinone  with skin products that contain benzoyl peroxide, hydrogen peroxide, or other peroxides, (found in most acne treatment) is harmful to the skin. This causes temporary staining of the skin. Also hydroquinone should not be used with any of the new resorcinol-based skin lightening treatments such as Clinique dark spot corrector.

3. 4% and above hydroquinone concentration is generally considered by most dermatologists to be one of the most effective skin-lightening and age spot-brightening agents. Overall, it is considered to be safer for Caucasians and light-skinned asians BUT not as safe for darker-skinned people (Africans).

Are you a woman of African Descent? Here are 10 Reasons why Hydroquinone is bad for your skin: 

1. It is harmful to your health! Although many European and American researchers argue that hydroquinone has NOT been directly linked to Cancer in humans only to mice. However, Hydroquinone clearly has a proven serious side-effect on humans as it causes pigmentation of the eye and permanent corneal damage (Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venearology, 2006).  This only occurs when the eye is directly exposed to hydroquinone (So if you are still bent on using hydroquinone based products, avoid direct contact with the eyes).

2. It causes Ochronosis: For lighter-skinned women of colour (Indians, Chinese, Filipinos  etc), dermatologists often recommend the use of hydroquinone in 3 to 4 months cycles and then alternated with less harmful lightening products. However,  in darker skinned women (particularly of African descent), continued use of hydroquinone has been associated with ochronosis, which is a skin disorder characterized by progressive sooty darkening of the skin.

3. It whitens skin by killing your skin’s pigment cells. It also degenerates collagen and elastin fibres in the skin (Note: Collagen should be strengthened in order to have a youthful, smooth and glowing skin!)

4. Using Hydroquinone is counter-productive. It defeats the purpose which you want it to achieve. You want glowing, radiant, healthy and brighter skin. The long-term use only leads to these horrible signs and effects: unseemly dark knuckles and ankles,  unsightly purplish vericose veins, a patch-work of colours on once beautiful skin. Have a rethink!

5. It can cause irritation and contact dermatitis and increases the risk of other types of skin irritation and/or severe itching.

6. Even if you succeed in bleaching the skin whiter with hydroquinone products, it often has an unhealthy, pasty look. Also, once you stop using it, your skin re-darkens. And since using it long-term is unhealthy, it’s basically a catch-22 situation!

7. If you live in the tropical region, the combination of hydroquinone and the sun is a bad one. Increased risk of ochronosis have been linked to excess sun exposure while using hydroquinone. As such, dermatologists often recommend to always use hydroquinone with a sunscreen. (Note:  In the hot African climate, sometimes, even sunscreens do not offer enough protection for the skin!)

8. Most products with hydroquinone have an awful smell and cause intense body heat and sweating.  Users often try to mask the odour by profuse use of perfumes which seems to make it even worse. There is off-the-shelf hydroquinone-based product(s) that’s so potent that users have to constantly stay in air-conditioned rooms!

9. It thins out the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis), which is dangerous especially during or post- surgical procedures, as it may take the skin a longer time to heal from cuts, wounds and/or stitches.

10. It ages your skin and as you get older the effects become even more pronounced. It is not a pretty sight to see someone whose skin has been damaged by prolonged years of hydroquinone use! Age gracefully and not with disgrace. Love your skin today so that it keeps well and not fall apart  tomorrow.

Iman

Iman

As one gets older, it is not uncommon to have the skin lose its luster, glow and smoothness. It may be due to a number of factors: age-spots, pregnancy, hyper-pigmentation, post-inflammatory pigmentation, melasma, sun damage due to over exposure, stress, poor diet, lack of exercise and improper sleeping patterns. This may be corrected by using the right skin brighteners, vitamin/supplements and eating a proper diet.

Healthier alternatives to Hydroquinone

If you still desire a lighter, brighter skin tone, some healthier alternatives are products with Kojic acid, Azelaic acid, Arbutin, Vitamin C etc.

1.  Whole Woman Network’s Body Silk skin-care line. It is an organic blend of essential oils, natural brightening butters (shea and cocoa) and minerals, made specifically for black women. The complete skincare line contains a complexion soap, toning body moisturizing lotion (night cream), radiance face cream (night cream) and a body silk butter for both face and body (daytime cream). If you are in North America, you can request for additional information and order your products via email: info@wholewomannetwork.com.

NOTE: If you are a holistic skin care practitioner, offering safe, organic and healthy skincare products and want your products added to our recommended list, please contact us.

If you live in Africa and other parts of the world, we also highly recommend the Jeunesse Anti-aging LUMINESCE skincare line, which is based on the latest technologies and innovation in DNA Repair, Stem Cells and Cellular Rejuvenation.

Another popular product-line recommended by our members across Africa is the Natural Skin care & Home fragrance range from the House of Purple Rose (HPR).

They carry a range of Arabian and Western blend Perfume Oils. All their oils and serums are handcrafted and made with 100% pure natural ingredients. You may order their products by sending an email to info@houseofpurplerose.com (share the referral code “WWN” to enjoy special discounts).

Note: If you want something over the counter, a healthy skin brightening agent highly recommended by award-winning scientific researcher and writer, Nicki Zevola, (Founder and CEO of FutureDerm) is Cape Fear Naturals Kojic Acid Cream Skin Brightener ($11.95, Amazon.com) with 4% kojic acid, the highest concentration available on the North American market without a prescription.

2. Lumixyl: This was recently developed by Stanford University researchers and has been found to be effective in the treatment of melasma, and general brown patches. It is said to deliver results similar to hydroquinone, but without the toxicity. One of the best product in the Lumixyl line is the Topical Brightening Creme, which contains a non-toxic and non-irritating peptide  that you can use indefinitely—no need to stop after a few months like Hydroquinone.

It can only be obtained from participating physicians. (Note: The product is still relatively new, it was released in 2009, so there few studies of noted side effects thus far). If you are interested in purchasing it, send us an email at  info@wholewomannetwork.com and we’ll connect you with one of the health professionals authorized to sell it. (It is not sold over the counter). If you live in the USA, you may order it from WWN’s Amazon Store by clicking on this link.

3. Cod Liver Oil! According to the recommendations of the Weston A. Price Foundation, which can be found here,  CLO is great for treating both acne and dullness of skin. After 8 weeks of use, there is a very noticeable brightness and radiance of the skin.

According to Michelle of beautyeditor.ca (The WWN community follow her insightful recommendations on all things skincare), the best kind of CLO is the high-quality, fermented variety because the cheaper, highly-processed ones tend to be stripped of the very vitamins that make them beneficial (for your skin and health).

Her brand of choice is Green Pasture’s (which can be ordered from the U.S.). She also recommends Carlson, the Norwegian brand of CLO. Note that the cod liver oil/high-vitamin butter oil blend, is said to be even MORE effective than the CLO alone.

4. Know your Minerals and Vitamins! Vitamin A, E and C are particularly good for radiant and brighter skin. They reduce sunspots, skin dullness, wrinkles, UV-induced erythema and sunburn and increase skin firmness and elasticity.

5.  Exercise and keep fit, stay hydrated and eat a healthy diet with foods rich in Omega-3. To learn more about the right fruits for a radiant, healthy complexion, see our previous post on ‘Eating’ your way to Beautiful Skin: http://wp.me/p1o3v6-9E.

Leila Lopes

Leila Lopes

So in conclusion, remember that the skin is the largest organ of the body, so we should take good and proper care of it. We all come in different shapes, sizes and colours. Our skin tones may fall across a wide spectrum similar to Nigerian actress Genevieve Nnaji, Supermodel Iman, Ms Universe 2011, Leila Lopes or Ghanaian actress Nadia Buari…yet the one thing that’s common to all of us is that we are African Queens, beautiful, radiant and regal!

So let’s celebrate the skin we’re in, nurture it and pamper it with natural and healthy oils/creams (such as Shea and Cocoa butters), healthy diets and proper habits of sleep, relaxation and exercise, rather than damage and disrespect it with harmful products and bad habits. So this new year, enjoy and celebrate the unique woman you are and love the skin you’re in. Take empowered ACTION towards a Healthier, Sexier, Wealthier YOU!

Join the conversation on Twitter: @wholewomaninc or on WWN’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/wholewomannetwork

Live beautifully, live passionately, live freely. Be social! Read-Comment-Share.

-Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido
Follow me on Twitter
You may also find me on my Floetry Blog

——————————————————

Blogger Bio:
Juliet Kego Ume-Onyido, MBA –Co-Founder & Executive Director at Whole Woman Network.
 Juliet is a Poetess, Social Entrepreneur, Leadership Consultant-Trainer. She is an avid life connoisseur and a passionate advocate of Girl-Child Education, Social Justice, WomEntrepreneurship, Investment & Financial Literacy for women.
Her mission is simply to engage, educate and empower wo(men) to return to ‘wholeness’ and live Healthier, Sexier, Wealthier Lives!

Sources:  Drugs.com, BBC Documentary on Skin Bleaching in South Africa, 2012, bbc.co.uk, (Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 1997), NAFDAC Nigeria, Futurederm.com, Beautyeditor.ca, (Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venearology, 2006).

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53 thoughts on “A Letter to All Women of African Descent: 10 Reasons Why Hydroquinone is Bad for Your Skin!

  1. Hi, my skin color is not ryme, some part are fair while some is chocolate. Also I have a dry skin and rachies on my face, but it happens that I used Eden forever hotel bath soap and i noticed a good change on my skin and no more rachies on my face. The problem is that I can’t get the soap on sales.
    Please I need help to get the product or another product with the same ingredients or a good cream to maintain my skin

    Like

  2. Pingback: Safe Skin Bleaching

  3. I have a light_brown skin but recently with the use of PERFECT WHITE CREAM which does not contain hydroquinone.I am noticing a great and rapid change on my skin especially my face. I love my color and i am scared of using an oil that will in turn damage my face. Please someone should help verify weather this oil could be a good one. I am so afraid it could further bleach my skin
    I am in Cameroon,and the country’s temperature is definitely high. please help
    Thanks

    Like

    • You may contact one of our referral partners- a skincare subject matter expert, Bisi Ladipo of Bitz Body and use promo code- WWNSkincare
      (Office Address: 77, Awolowo Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos | Tel: 234(0)8033030838, (0)8121192861 | Email: bisi@bitzbody.com | Chat: bitzbody (yahoo-IM), bitzbody (Skype), B.B pin: 290f2166. She’s based in Nigeria, we’re still working on making some products available for online purchase.

      Like

  4. a glad to meet u pls am dark in colour any crm I try it dos’t work for me my face will be rough with pimpls dark spot help me which one will smooth my skin nourish it and keep it healthy my no is 08138396325

    Like

    • Manasseh you may contact one of our referral partners- a skincare subject matter expert, Bisi Ladipo of Bitz Body and use promo code- WWNSkincare
      (Office Address: 77, Awolowo Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos | Tel: 234(0)8033030838, (0)8121192861 | Email: bisi@bitzbody.com | Chat: bitzbody (yahoo-IM), bitzbody (Skype), B.B pin: 290f2166. She’s based in Nigeria, we’re still working on making some products available for online purchase.

      Like

  5. Hi. Plz im chocolate brown colour but i hv gotten black due to sunburns. I Will really love to know abt a brand of body cream i cld use i am in Cameroon precisely to tone unify and bright en at an affordable price. Plz im a student. Thanks im waiting impatiently. Hey i bought a cream dr miracles toning cream but it seems like der is nô such thing so itz fake. Help my money is gone/ going.

    Like

    • Any cream rich in natural organic butters: Shea, cocoa, avocado, oatmeal and honey butters etc. And use sunscreen too. And you may contact one of our referral partners- a skincare subject matter expert, Bisi Ladipo of Bitz Body and use promo code- WWNSkincare
      (Office Address: 77, Awolowo Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos | Tel: 234(0)8033030838, (0)8121192861 | Email: bisi@bitzbody.com | Chat: bitzbody (yahoo-IM), bitzbody (Skype), B.B pin: 290f2166. She’s based in Nigeria, we’re still working on making some products available for online purchase.

      Like

  6. Pingback: Say No to Hydroquinone: How to Safely Remove Dark Spots | heavenlyebonycosmetics

  7. Pingback: DOES SKIN WHITENING FOREVER BY EDEN DIAZ WORK?

  8. hi dears, happy to have found you, i am a light skinned girl i want a good ceram, lotion and soap which will do me all the healthy benefits above, recently for 2 months i have been using a cream which contains hydroquinone but i cant stand it any more. my location is UGANDA-KAMPALA, MY CONTACT +256700955364

    Like

    • Marion, you may contact one of our referral partners- a skincare subject matter expert, Bisi Ladipo of Bitz Body and use promo code- WWNSkincare
      (Office Address: 77, Awolowo Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos | Tel: 234(0)8033030838, (0)8121192861 | Email: bisi@bitzbody.com | Chat: bitzbody (yahoo-IM), bitzbody (Skype), B.B pin: 290f2166. She’s based in Nigeria though, we’re still working on making some products available for online purchase.

      Like

    • You may contact one of our referral partners- skincare subject matter expert, Bisi Ladipo of Bitz Body and use promo code- WWNSkincare (Office Address: 77, Awolowo Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos | Tel: 234(0)8033030838, (0)8121192861 | Email: bisi@bitzbody.com | Chat: bitzbody (yahoo-IM), bitzbody (Skype), B.B pin: 290f2166

      Like

  9. pls help me is perfect white cream for fair or dark complexion am fair in complexion i need a cream dat will bring out my colour this is my number 08160430750

    Like

    • Alvien, You may contact one of our referral partners- skincare subject matter expert, Bisi Ladipo of Bitz Body and use promo code- WWNSkincare (Office Address: 77, Awolowo Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos | Tel: 234(0)8033030838, (0)8121192861 | Email: bisi@bitzbody.com | Chat: bitzbody (yahoo-IM), bitzbody (Skype), B.B pin: 290f2166

      Like

  10. all what u have said about hydroquinone is very correct i use caro white which contains about 2% hydroquinone, iam beginning to notice some changes like acne & aging on my skin & face that was what prompted me to ask the question. thanks so much.but how can i maintain a fresh looking chocolate colour with a small amount of money like #500 i used to buy my caro white for a very sensitive skin like mine? once again thanks for this enlightmemt. unfortunately i dnt have an e-mail yet, but if possible here is my contact pls. 08034592818

    Like

    • Thanks a lot for your comment. You may contact one of our referral partners- skincare subject matter expert, Bisi Ladipo of Bitz Body and use promo code- WWNSkincare (Office Address: 77, Awolowo Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos | Tel: 234(0)8033030838, (0)8121192861 | Email: bisi@bitzbody.com | Chat: bitzbody (yahoo-IM), bitzbody (Skype), B.B pin: 290f2166

      Like

    • Chizycool, Thanks a lot for your comment. You may contact one of our referral partners- skincare subject matter expert, Bisi Ladipo of Bitz Body and use promo code- WWNSkincare (Office Address: 77, Awolowo Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos | Tel: 234(0)8033030838, (0)8121192861 | Email: bisi@bitzbody.com | Chat: bitzbody (yahoo-IM), bitzbody (Skype), B.B pin: 290f2166

      Like

  11. Please I need an urgent reply…please I need a good cream and soap that can help in toning, nourish and keeping my skin healthy….I have used diverse creams on my body but am not getting what I want presently am using cream that contains hydroquinone… please I need an urgent reply thanks.

    Like

  12. Please I really need an answer frm you, I have been using clear essence beautifying milk for years and it contains 2% hydroquinone. Now I want to change my moisturiser to another brightening lotion dat contain natural ingredients, wil it make me darker?

    Like

    • Regular exfoliation with a good body scrub or body polisher such as CLARINS or Clinique. Or if you want to use a natural exfoliator you can use a mixture of honey and brown sugar just before you bathe. You may contact one of our referral partners- skincare subject matter expert, Bisi Ladipo of Bitz Body and use promo code- WWNSkincare (Office Address: 77, Awolowo Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos | Tel: 234(0)8033030838, (0)8121192861 | Email: bisi@bitzbody.com | Chat: bitzbody (yahoo-IM), bitzbody (Skype), B.B pin: 290f2166

      Like

  13. Since i lost my lemon fresh fade milk i hvn’t goten any body lotion dat suit me.my knees are dark n also my hands n legs i hv used so many cream but none is working 4 me i hv a dull and dry skin.Am light skin complexion pls i need your help as soon as possible. my location is jos 08030905553

    Like

  14. Plz I need a gud body lotion and soap that contains all the healthier ingredients u talked abt that will help brighten, nourish and tone me evenly. I’v a very sensitive and dry skin. I’m a light brown person, all d beauty product av used ends up making me too light or makes me more dark and pls which oil to use soften my hand as it’s too dry. Vivian abuja 08069453738

    Like

  15. Please I need a good body cream am chocolate my skin is sensitive I don’t want cream with hydroquione.i want smooth,tone and glowing skin.

    Like

    • Plz i need a gud body lotion and a body soap that contains all the healthier ingredients u talked abt that will help brighten, lighten nourish and make my skin glow . I’ll send u an email .thank u.

      Like

  16. Plz i need a gud body lotion and a shower cream that contains all the healthier ingredients u talked abt that will help brighten, lighten nourish me and tone me evenly. I’m a light medium skin person. I’v a very sensitive skin, all d Beauty products hv used ends up spoiling my skin. Happiness from Lagos. 08099775526

    Like

  17. Plz i need a gud body lotion and a body soap that contains all the healthier ingredients u talked abt that will help brighten, lighten nourish me and tone me evenly. I’m a brown person. I’v a very sensitive skin, all d Beauty products hv used ends up spoiling my skin. Happiness. Lagos. 08099775526

    Like

  18. This is very much true and educative may God Almigty bless you. But the desire in every woman is that we get more beautiful which strongly drive us to do regrettable things.
    Beautty
    Namibia

    Like

  19. I love this and wish to know more because i don’t want creams that will damage my skin, honestly am scared of using cream. I wish i can get to know from you, cream that suit my skin type/colour. Thanks and really appreciate the effort made to put up this great piece of information.

    Like

  20. Plz i need a gud body lotion and a shower cream that contains all the healthier ingredients u talked abt that will help brighten, lighten nourish me and tone me evenly. I’m a brown person. I’v a very sensitive skin, all d Beauty products hv used ends up spoiling my skin nd leaving me with patches.
    Annabel 4rm Abuja. 08134288920.

    Like

    • Hello to all my beautiful African women,im a brown colour lady, i have used uncountable body lotions to maintain my complexion,some of them whit hydroquinone,but it keep spoiling my skin and leave me whit stratched marks,l’v a very sensitive body,pls i need a gud body lotion and a shower cream that contains all the healthier ingredients u talked about that will help to brighten,lighten,nourish and tone me evenly.

      Like

      • Thanks a lot for your comment. You may contact one of our referral partners- skincare subject matter expert, Bisi Ladipo of Bitz Body and use promo code- WWNSkincare (Office Address: 77, Awolowo Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos | Tel: 234(0)8033030838, (0)8121192861 | Email: bisi@bitzbody.com | Chat: bitzbody (yahoo-IM), bitzbody (Skype), B.B pin: 290f2166

        Like

  21. I will appreciate it if you reply dis mail. I have dis unsightly dark spots all over my skin from skin infections i had many yrs ago while in secondary school. I av tried all sorts of products to get rid of them but to no avail.I am even thinking of having a laser treatment to get dem off my skin.Most effective dark spot treatment/fade creams have hydroquinone in them(including the bathing soap i use presently),what safe,effective,alternative treatment can i make use of. I wanna go back to wearing dresses&skirts…i miss them!

    Like

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