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Cosmetic product

It was a warm Friday evening in the sprawling city of Nairobi. There were many pedestrians on the road, some gathering at their favorite street food joints on their way home. The private cars hooted at the graffiti-filled matatus (Kenyan taxi vans) that were illegally overtaking, signifying the beginning of a tiring traffic jam. I was getting ready to leave after completing my shift at the pharmacy when a lady walked into the pharmacy. She was in her mid-twenties and had a worried look on her face.

The lady held a familiar cosmetic product that was famously sold in “beauty shops” as an acne and black spot remover. The dark patches on her cheeks intrigued me. And for a moment, I tried to figure out what ailed her.

She approached Edgar, my colleague, who was closest to the door and explained her story. She said the cream had reacted on her skin and caused the dark patches, and she wanted them gone. After examining the product, I noticed a familiar ingredient: hydroquinone. The lady unknowingly bought a whitening skin bleaching cream!

We often buy products recommended to us or are cheapest in the market. Sometimes, these decisions bring us more harm than good. Some market products are disguised as “cosmetic” and are not in use in some countries. Therefore, it is essential to do your research and look at the ingredients before buying anything to use on your face. Here are some of the chemicals to look out for in a cosmetic product:


Look for hydroquinone, tocopherol acetate, tocopheryl linoleate, or other ingredients with the root word ‘toco.’ This chemical is toxic and can cause cancer when used for a long time. It is found in Skin lighteners, facial and skin cleansers, facial moisturizers, hair conditioners, fingernail coating products. The European Union has banned the use of these products while the Canadians have restricted access.


Corticosteroids are the most misused over-the-counter cream. Clobetasol propionate is the most common. Prolonged use causes acne, rushes, and reddening of the skin


This element leads to a lot of neurological damage and kidney damage or death in severe cases. Look for the words: Mercuric, Calomel, Cinnabaris, Quicksilver
Other ingredients to look out for which have toxic and/or carcinogenic effect include the following;
• Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
• Ceteareth 20(1,4 dioxane contamination)
• DMDM hydantoin (formaldehyde releaser)
• Padimoate O (nitrosamine contamination)

In case you intentionally want to lighten your skin tone, you might want to look for the following ingredients which are safer.
a)Kojic acid
Kojic acid is a by-product in the fermentation process of malting rice for use in Japanese rice wine manufacturing. It is good in inhibiting melanin production.

b)Azelaic acid
Azelaic acid is a component of grains, such as wheat, rye, and barley. It is applied topically in a cream formulation at a 10–20% concentration. It is useful for skin discolorations. It is a safer option for inhibiting melanin production.

My opinion: The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness. Marcus Garvey
Skin conditions can always be treated and managed by a dermatologist.

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1 comment

John Karanja September 22, 2020 at 10:02 am

This is some very vital info…

Very Enlightening!
*No pun intended hehehe


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