By Rose Oladele
The government of Rwanda has began the enforcement of a ban on skin lightening creams and soaps.
The ban which was announced in November 2018 has now taken full force with government officials and policemen patrolling markets in the capital, Kigali, and in provinces across the East African nation, seizing skin-lightening and bleaching products from shops.
Skin-lightening products contain chemicals such as mercury and hydroquinone, which can cause liver damage, reduce resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, and increase anxiety, depression and psychosis, according to the World Health Organization.
Apart from seizing the products, Rwanda has also launched a campaign against skin bleaching and substandard cosmetics, particularly products that include hydroquinone.
Sale of skin lightening products have also been totally or partially banned in some other African countries including South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Late last year, American reality TV star, Blac Chyna faced a backlash when she announced that she was hitting Lagos to launch a skin whitenimg cream n partnership with a beauty line called Whitenicious.
Nigeria, Mali and Togo, according to a 2011 W.H.O report, top African countries whose women use skin whitening creams. Men are not left out.
According to Global Industry Analysts, the global market for skin-lightening products is projected to reach $31.2 billion by 2024, up from $17.9 billion in 2017, especially in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.