I May Have Accidentally Bleached My Skin
About a year ago, I started noticing hormonal acne. It was a pimple here, another there, nothing incredibly dreadful. In my 20s, I had no skincare routine, friends and family never took any product recommendations I made because according to them the products with the most negative reviews worked magic on my skin.
Early in 2019, my face demanded more attention. It was dull, dry and oily. It was obvious that the more I paid attention to it, the less impressed my epidermis got.
By mid-2019, I had to admit that I needed professional medical advice. The doctor I saw insisted it was period- acne and nothing to worry about.
Unsatisfied, I tried YouTube DIY turmeric facemasks, bentonite clay, and scrubs. These would work for a few days and start lightening me. I then tried over-the-counter steroids to help tackle new acne which worked like magic at first. Then toners, cleansers, serums and masks and in a few weeks I was a “yellow pawpaw” and when I stopped everything all together, I continued to get lightened.
Before my hormonal acne invasion, I used to have what I can’t call a skincare regimen. This included washing with soap and cleansing with mild products three to four times a week. I had these cleansing wipes I used to assuage my guilt on the days I was too tired to do the other things. In my 20s, I used to sleep with my make up on and rarely used moisturisers.
In the article on WomensHealth Lorraine Scrivener, skin expert at Eden Skin Clinic explains, ‘Cell turn-over becomes slower during your thirties and skin doesn’t bounce back as it once did.’ She also advised we ditched the wipes: ‘Your twenties might have been filled with the convenience of taking off makeup with a face wipe, but your skin isn’t as resilient in your thirties.
Now in my thirties, I am paying for the sins of yesteryears as my skin is rebelling and demanding better treatment. In weeks following my bleaching escapades, I found myself scouring the shelves of supermarkets and online stores looking for products with salicylic acid, glycolic acid, retinol, lactic acid, benzoyl peroxide, ferulic acid, ceramide, niacinamide, aloe vera and other ingredients that promised to remove dead skin cells, fight acne, reveal a clean and clearer skin tone without bleaching the skin.
There is an army of resources online to help, more so when I realised that I was previously combative in my approach, We now know our skin needs care and gentility. Skincare is not cheap and it takes time to find what works When I started my acne-fighting journey, I searched for cheap products that promised “whitener, lightening, brightening” results, all promising to ‘reveal even complexion, cure hyperpigmentation.
We overlook the importance of the dermatologist. Visiting a dermatologist would help you find clarity to the most puzzling skin drama.
Why people bleach
There a gazillion articles on the internet that are unsympathetic skin bleachers. Skin bleaching is also known to have disastrous consequences that could lead to death. Also, skin bleaching is because of underlying self-esteem and mental health challenges. According to Bimpe who works as a sales rep for a mass-market cosmetic brand with officers around west Africa “people won’t buy your products if you don’t declare that it will whiten, lighten, half-cast them in days”.
A chief reason for skin bleaching is Colonial mentality. According to Wikipedia, the colonial mentality is the internalized attitude of ethnic or cultural inferiority felt by people as a result of colonization, i.e. them being colonised by another group. It corresponds with the belief that the cultural values of the colonizer are inherently superior to one’s own. Wikipedia Many women want whiter skin because whiteness equates to beauty and you hear darker-skinned women describe their beauty with a defensiveness that is pitiful, on the shelves of supermarkets, you see creams claiming to whiten your skin.
What I now know
I now know that people will judge you when your skin tone changes, I also know that even when they don’t judge you, you will feel judged. A brighter skin tone is not always evidence of bleaching. Sometimes, people have become sunburned and neglected their skin for so long. Once they use products with ingredients like alpha arbutin, glycolic acid, liquorice root extract, lactic acid, niacinamide, kojic acid, it will lighten the skin while taking care of dark spots and hyperpigmentations without the risks associated with skin bleaching.
What has helped?
Now I cleanse, tone, use a serum and moisturize my face every day and night and I know cheaper isn’t always better. Also, night products vary from day products. I avoid oil-based products at night.
A lot of women, like me who develop skin conditions, hope it will get better on its own and go away. But plodding along with something that is making you unhappy, is never a good idea. You can have great skin at any age, as you get older, you have to be a little better at looking after it, without bleaching your skin of course.