SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.112 issue11-12Recent advances in sex identification of human skeletal remains in South Africa author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand



Related links

  • On index processCited by Google
  • On index processSimilars in Google


South African Journal of Science

On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353


DAVIDS, Lester M.; VAN WYK, Jennifer; KHUMALO, Nonhlanhla P.  and  JABLONSKI, Nina G.. The phenomenon of skin lightening: Is it right to be light?. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2016, vol.112, n.11-12, pp.1-5. ISSN 1996-7489.

Chemicals capable of lightening the skin - variously known as skin-bleaching, skin-lightening, depigmenting, skin-evening and skin-brightening agents - are among the most commonly used skin preparations in the world. Globally, Africa reportedly exhibits a high prevalence of skin lightener use. In this review, we provide both clinical and social perspectives on skin lightener use in Africa, with particular emphasis on South Africa. We narratively explore the timeline associated with skin lightener use in South Africa and attempt to interweave the social rhetoric of this specific paradigm. Despite the risks associated with exposing the skin to known constituents of these formulations, such as hydroquinone and mercury, chronic use continues. In spite of legislation banning hydroquinone and mercury in cosmetics in South Africa, these ingredients are present in widely available products. We recommend better implementation of policies and greater ethical responsibility of multinational cosmetic companies in addition to the initiation of a system of random product testing and penalties that could improve industry compliance. SIGNIFICANCE: • There is a high prevalence of skin lightener use in Africa. • Despite legislation banning harmful compounds, these compounds are still used in skin lightening formulations. • There is an urgent need to implement policies and recommendations for preventing the influx and illicit sale and use of untested skin lighteners.

Keywords : skin lighteners; Africa; colourism; exogenous ochronosis; hydroquinone.

        · text in English     · English ( pdf )


Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License