A desperation for lighter skin and a firm belief that paler skins are much more attractive than dark skins are driving factors behind the burgeoning trade in skin bleaching products in Mpumalanga.
Women are going to great expense as well as inconvenience and sometimes even pain, plus risking their future health as they go to extreme measures in their quest for beauty.
And as a result, the trade in skin lighteners – some of them known to be dangerous when used long term – is growing in the province.
As more women use the different products available, so people are cashing in on the opportunity to make money from their desperation.
The women who use the products say that as long as they are available, they will continue to use them in their efforts to be seen as beautiful alongside their lighter-skinned sisters.
The most popular bleaching creams on the market are Caro white cream, Clair cream, Pawpaw cream, Lemonvate and Movate creams.
According to Silindile Masinga, bleaching is a deep issue for her. While growing up she was bullied a lot because her skin was darker skin than most other children.
“I was never told that I was beautiful and those kids who had light skin were getting the all the compliments. My nickname was ‘Night’ and my uncle always used to joke with my mother, asking ‘Why can’t you use Jik on her, because with her skin Jik can do wonders’.”
Masinga said these kinds of regular comments led her to grow up with low self-esteem
“In my teen years my friends introduced me the different bleaching products, and ever since that time I have been using them.”
Several women interviewed in a random survey said they did not like using skin bleaching products because they did not like the smell of the creams. But others who admitted to using them said they believed that putting up with the smell was worth it.