BLEACHING

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear; “Bleaching“? The Skin or the Garments?

Skin Bleaching? or whites’ bleaching?

Don’t lie! Cross your heart and swear to die! Say the truth and let the Devil be ashamed…

(these are some of the ways they get your children to tell the truth; “train up a Child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. Teach your children the act of Honesty from when they are very little, it is very important! If you practise it, they will follow suit)

I knew it! Skin Bleaching!

Who is on this table? ahahahah

THE SKIN – THE ANATOMY

Cross Section of the Human Skin (Pic Credit: Google Images)

The skin is the largest organ of the body. The skin protects us from disease-causing microorganisms (germs) and the environment. It helps regulate body temperature, and helps us to feel touch, heat, and cold. It is a Sense Organ.

The Skin has three layers:

  • The epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, provides a waterproof barrier and creates our skin tone.
  • The dermis, beneath the epidermis, contains tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands.
  • The deeper subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis) is made of fat and connective tissue.

The skin’s color is created by special cells called melanocytes, which produce the pigment melanin. Melanocytes are located in the epidermis. (1) The Skin accounts for around 16% of the total body weight. (2)

SKIN COLOUR (SKIN PIGMENTATION)

Skin colour is primarily determined by genetic inheritance but exposure to sunlight also alters the Skin colour(4) ; being the product of both of the individual’s biological parents’ genetic makeup, and exposure to sun (UVA and UVB rays). Melanin is the pigment that determines skin colour as well as hair and eye colour.

Melanin is produced by skin cells when they are exposed to the sun. The more sun exposure, the more Melanin is produced. Melanin plays a vital role in protecting the body from UV (Ultraviolet) radiation because it filters sunlight before it can damage skin cells.

Sun exposure stimulates the body to produce more melanin to protect its skin cells. Thus there is a close association between skin colour and an individual’s place of origin (or their ancestor’s place of origin). Individuals with darker skin originate from areas with high levels of ultraviolet radiation, close to the equator. (6) Countries close to the equator include; Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia. (12)

Color is not entirely uniform across an individual’s skin; for example, the skin of the palm and the sole is lighter than most other skin, and this is especially noticeable in darker-skinned people. … Natural skin color can also darken as a result of tanning due to exposure to sunlight.(5)

Simply put, Skin colour is primarily determined by the genes you inherit from your biological Parents and Sun exposure. Melanin is produced by the Skin to protect against the harmful effects of the Ultraviolet rays of the Sun. So, let’s assume the Sun is a huge river, Melanin will be a dam, to stop the flow of water from destroying lives and property. If the Sun is Winter, then Melanin is the warmer, our wool jackets etc. that will protect us from the harsh effects of winter. So in area with high Sun exposure, the people there tend to be darker, because, the greater the Sun exposure, the greater the production of Melanin.

SKIN TONE AND UNDERTONES

The “tone” of your skin is the genetically endowed amount of melanin in your epidermis (the outermost layer of skin). When the skin is exposed to damaging ultraviolet light from the sun, melanocytes kick into overdrive as a natural defense mechanism, producing an abundant amount of melanin spread across the epidermis to absorb the sun’s harmful rays. For that reason, determining your skin tone will vary depending on how much time you spend in unprotected sun exposure, but the skin tone you were born with is based on your genetic makeup. (9)

 UNDERTONES

“Undertones [as the name suggests] are the colors underneath the surface of your skin.” (10) Which means that, it’s possible to have the same skin tone as someone else, but have a completely different undertone.

According to both Willis and Torrence, there are three undertone colors: warm, cool and neutral. (10)

  • Warm: If the base tone of your skin is yellow or gold, you have warm undertones.
  • Cool: If you see hints of blue, pink or red, then you have cool undertones.
  • Neutral: If there’s a mixture of both warm and cool hues, or your undertone is the same color as your actual skin color, then you fall into the neutral category.

“Skin tone and undertone are not the same thing. “Skin tone can change over time for a variety of reasons, but undertones remain constant.

Learning about the Skin tones and undertones are particularly important in selecting makeup and jewelry and determining what skincare procedures you should undergo.

Ways to determine your skin’s undertone can be found in (13) and (10)

SKIN BLEACHING

So, now we know all these about our skin, it is time to ask again? What is skin bleaching? There are two predominant definitions:

  1. Skin bleaching, may refer to the practice of using chemical substances in an attempt to lighten the skin or provide an even skin color by reducing the melanin concentration in the skin. (7)

This is the predominant definition of Skin bleaching and the reason it draws the ire of many (particularly, the conservatives). Many people are averse to this practise because of the adverse effects which may result from it. Many are of the opinion that; reduction in melanin concentration is equal to (or not equal to?) reduced protection from the harmful UV rays of the Sun which may put one at increased risks of Skin Cancer.

2. Skin lightening, or skin bleaching, is a cosmetic procedure that aims to lighten dark areas of skin or achieve a generally paler skin tone. (8) Many people are in favour of this, especially people who live close to the equator and those who live in the tropics.

INDICATION

Indication is a symptom that suggests certain medical treatment is necessary. So, what are the indications for Skin bleaching:

  1. HYPERPIGMENTATION

Hyperpigmentation is a medical term used to describe darker patches of skin. These patches result from excess melanin production, which can be caused by everything from acne scars and sun damage to hormone fluctuations.(14)

Some forms of Hyperpigmentation like age spots and melasma are more likely to affect areas of skin that face sun exposure, including the face, arms, and legs. Other types of hyperpigmentation form after an injury or skin inflammation such as cuts, burns, acne or lupus. These can occur anywhere on the body. (11)

If you’re dealing with hyperpigmentation, know that you are not alone. It affects people of all skin types.

Other types of hyperpigmentation form after an injury or skin inflammation such as cuts, burns, acne or lupus. These can occur anywhere on the body.

Having extra pigment in some areas of skin is usually harmless but can sometimes indicate another medical condition.

2. LOW SELF ESTEEM

The feeling that people with paler skin tones are more beautiful than people with darker skin tones. Many people alter their Skin colour because of a low self esteem. Such people believe people who are fairer in complexion are more attractive than their darker counterparts. Most of the harsh criticisms measured against those who alter their skin colour is measured against them because of this second indication, in fact, many are unaware that there is such a word as; Hyperpigmentation.

CASE 1 SCENARIO (HYPERPIGMENTATION)

Beginning 2007, I had no permanent skin complexion; today, I was dark, tomorrow I was brown, the next I was caramel-skin coupled with the fact that i traveled a lot! makeup was like second skin(*rolls eyes*).

All a girl wanted was to be able to wake up “photoshoot ready”, to go out without makeup and to have glowing skin like Toke Makinwa and have healthy skin that will inspire others to care for themselves better. C’est fini! Comprendre? Was it too much to ask?

Because I was scared of skin bleaching (or my sparse knowledge of it ); I was scared of:

  • exposed green veins
  • Darkened knuckles (I already had darker knuckles due to hyperpigmentation, I did not want it compounded by use of harmful chemicals)
  • Sun burn especially the Facial one
  • and the Monster of them all; SKIN CANCER

So, I was very conscious of what I put on my Skin. Before I put my money on it, I would:

  • check the brand name
  • google the ingredients
  • read reviews
  • check out those who endorsed it
  • check the price

It was only after I was satisfied, I bought it.

Did my skin get any better? No. I had cleansers, exfoliating scrubs… Mention it! They all only seemed to work for a while and I was back to square 1!

TURN AROUND

The life changing decision came in May, 2017 when I suffered from a very terrible accident…

I was to restrict my movement for the first 6 weeks as one of the veins in my leg “had burst and released its contents into the surrounding” during the accident and to prevent DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), I had to move as minimally as possible, the leg was not to be massaged and so many other rules which I had to adhere to.

When the leg was 70% healed and the pains had greatly subsided, I started wearing knee-lenght dresses again and all everyone could see or so it seemed was how ugly my leg had become.

It was the beginning of a journey for me; my discovery of traditional African Skin rejuvenation and recovery process. With specially made cream and scrub, my legs were restored and even more beautiful.

MY EUREKA MOMENT

So, I thought, if I could restore my legs (the skin), like; the old skin gradually wore off like a snake changing its skin; then I could develop an even tone. I had always admired the part of my body not exposed to the sun (abdomen, chest, thighs, back), it was so smooth, supple and fresh. I always wished my skin could be just like that.

So, I began my Skin lightening process through a series of (using traditional African methods);

  • microdermabrasion ,
  • exfoliation,
  • Spots removal,
  • Skin renewal,
  • Total Skin rejuvenation, and
  • Skin Polishing

I discovered the beauty of African roots, seeds, leaves, fruits, nuts and stems and I am a living testimony.

With my experience; the OLUWASE’ITAN SKINCARE (a.k.a. Seinaturals) was born where I have used my knowledge to help others acquire their dream skin with the aim to correct skin imperfections (but not to change skin colour) using traditional methods.

After the herbs/seeds/fruits/nuts have been cooked, they are pounded. This is the third stage.

I think the misconception has been borne out of the image of the woman with “green veins, burnt face, burnt knuckles, and whitened pale feet” at Obalende, Lagos Island(Obalende people, please don’t come for me o)

IMPLICATION

  1. Not all Skin lightening is achieved through the Use of Chemicals (as in my case). Bleached/ whitened skin does not glow. It just looks pale.
  2. Almost every Human is guilty of Skin bleaching at one point or the other. I have had people come to me with this request; “I don’t want to bleach o, I just want to lighten my face and neck a little”. Wos, Wobi, mai fren! that’s face bleaching! “You see this my elbow and thighs, I have dark spots all over, please can you help me take out the spots?”That’s Skin Bleaching.” I think the misconception has been borne out of the image of the woman with “green veins, burnt face, burnt knuckles, and whitened pale feet” at Obalende, Lagos Island (Obalende people, please don’t come for me o). So, now you know these, will you still speak ignorantly?
  3. If you choose to lighten your skin for whatever reason, do proper consultation before you begin. It takes a lot of time, money, energy and dedication especially if you decide to go my route and want shiny, glowing skin as end result. You will not start today and wake up next week with glowing skin o, it takes a lot more than that!
  4. *Awon Naysayers gang*. “O geh, what are you saying, even my own thighs are fairer than my face, it’s normal. Bleaching is bleaching. Call a Spade a Spade”. Good for you! I hope all the makeup has not finished from the Makeup Stores in Shoprite; awon team “Setting and baking”, we see you.
  5. People do whatever they do for whatever reason they care to. “We have heard that some of you are idle, doing nothing, they are busy bodies. We urge you to live a quiet life and mind your business just as we have commanded you.” Why does another person’s bleached skin affect you so much? Is there an underlying issue you may like to share?
  6. Do not allow anyone tell you what your skin complexion is or what you should be doing except the one you give permission to. Ensure the one you give permission to make judgments about your skin has adequate information and required expertise (no be expertise for book o, real one wey you fit see, touch and relate to) so you don’t end up ruining your skin taking advise from the wrong people. When people give you a piece of advice, please take a look at their skin, if you like what you see, take the advice.
  7. You are the only one who knows the way your skin looks when you stand naked before your “mirror o mirror” on the wall, after all said and done, sort through and decide which advice to take. “Mirror o Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”

CONCLUSION

At the end of the day, my general rule of thumb is;

if it is not good enough to be eaten, it is not good enough to be massaged into my skin.

So, I transitioned from using off-the-counter creams and scrubs to using home-made creams and scrubs which I tweak all year long to continually suit my skin’s growing needs.

I am living my best life, are you?

+

REFERENCES (for further reading)

  1. Picture of the Skin https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/picture-of-the-skin#1
  2. Science: Human Body and Mind. Organs: Skin https://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/body/factfiles/skin/skin.shtml
  3. Human Skin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_skin
  4. Skin Colour https://healthengine.com.au/info/skin-colour
  5. Human Skin Colour https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_skin_color
  6. Skin Colour https://healthengine.com.au/info/skin-colour
  7. Skin Whitening https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skin_whitening
  8. Skin lightening https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cosmetic-procedures/skin-lightening/
  9. How to determine your skin tone before buying face Products https://www.colorescience.com/learn/post/how-to-determine-your-skin-tone-before-buying-face-products
  10. What’s Your Skin Undertone? Here’s How to Find It https://www.essence.com/beauty/how-to-determine-skin-undertone/
  11. What to know about hyperpigmentation https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323808.php
  12. Countries on the Equator https://www.thoughtco.com/countries-that-lie-on-the-equator-1435319
  13. 4WAYS TO DETERMINE YOUR SKIN’S UNDERTONE AND HOW IT AFFECTS HAIR COLOR https://www.maximumfx.com/4-ways-to-determine-your-skins-undertone-and-how-it-affects-hair-color
  14. 8 Treatment Options for Hyperpigmentation https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/hyperpigmentation-treatment

10 Comments

  1. As a person that supports and preaches the sociopolitical ideology of Pan Africanism and also as an ardent follower of Fela Anikulapokuti (Yellow fever), it took a while for me to digest what you have written because I had to consciously set aside my bias and objectively read and interpret some of the vital points this write up.

    I think the take home for me is that “bleaching” can be seen as a positive (i.e. it can be both medically and psychosocially therapuetic) in some cases provided some level of research are done to ensure the safety profile of the products.

    In addition, I commend you for using ethnomedicinal products.

    Like

    1. This is the highlight of this comment for me: “I think the take home for me is that “bleaching” can be seen as a positive (i.e. it can be both medically and psychosocially therapeutic) in some cases provided some level of research are done to ensure the safety profile of the products.”
      You read it, Prof! (standing ovation)

      Like

  2. I Wish people will read and realise that Hyperpigmentation is not caused by cream. Beautiful piece this is. It Couldn’t have been explained better.

    Like

    1. Thanks my darling. We who suffer from it and are educated know better than to argue. Please use the share button, Tell your friends and their friends of friends

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s