Ghana bans fairness creams. Isn’t it time for India to promote ‘fairness’ for all skin tones too?


The grass is always greener on the other side, goes the popular saying. And we couldn’t agree more. While Caucasians or the ‘Whites’ are visiting tanning parlours and slabbing litres of tanning lotion onto their pale white skin to get the ‘desired’ bronze tan, a great number of ‘Blacks’ and ‘Browns’ are emptying all sorts of fairness product tubes to lighten their skin colour.

Quite often, the desire to get the skin colour lightened or darkened is so big that people totally overlook the dangers of such procedures. But Ghana has shown the way to the world on how to take on bullying of such product companies like a pro.


The Western African country, which has a population of black-skinned people, has announced a ban on the import and sale of hydroquinone-based fairness products from August. Hydroquinone is a chemical used in skin-lightening products.Reportedly, around 30% women in Ghana use fairness products.

Several countries including USA, Japan and Australia have either banned or imposed regulations on the over-the-counter sales of products containing hydroquinone, which doctors, say, can lead to many skin-related ailments, such as increased exposure to UV radiation, sensitivity to sunlight, hyperpigmentation, allergies and thick, leathery, and bumpy skin.


But so far as such fairness potions is giving people instant results, who’s going to care! For the countries and continents of black or brown people, whiteness of the skin is the yardstick to measure beauty. Fairness is aspirational, and people, especially women don’t think twice before caking their faces with dubious products.

The condition in India is not different from the African country. Here too, an “attractive,” woman is peach-and-cream skinned. All shades of other browns and ‘wheatish’ are just ‘ok’, waiting to be redeemed by fairness products. And the prettiest of film stars from Bollywood will vouch for that.


The skin-whitening products industry is said to be a multi-billion one with the Indian fairness cream industry alone being worth around $450m and one that is continuously growing.Doctors believe that over the past two to three years, cases of skin infection increased from 2% to 15% as a result of application of fairness creams. But we would rather a fair skin with all sorts of skin problems than a dark one. The desire for ‘fairness’ is so consummating.

Fair & Lovely cream, the market leader in fairness creams in India has been around for ages. Back then, it used to be a middle-class product used generously by dark girls, and sometimes by men (although in private). Today, the product is marketed as a hip ‘must-have’ for every dark-skinned aspiring model, bride or job-seeking young woman.


And because of the regular criticism fairness creams face, companies now brand them as ‘skin-lightening’ products. The global players market it in attractive looking tiny jars, claiming to take off the blemishes and dark-spots away from your face. I doubt if they do anything at all in reality.


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