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Ghana bans the sale of skin bleaching products

A spokesman for the country’s Food and Drugs Authority says that from 2016 ‘the acceptance for skin lightening products is going to be zero’

Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has decided to ban the sale of cosmetics containing skin bleaching ingredient hydroquinone. According to reports, the ban will come into effect this August and aims to deter people from using products containing this substance, which is believed to have the potential to cause cancer.

“Concerning skin lightening products, we are saying that from August 2016, all products containing hydroquinone will not be allowed into the country,” said FDA spokesperson James Lartey in an interview with Ghana Star. “From 2016, the acceptance for skin lightening products is going to be zero.”

It is estimated that 30 per cent of women in Ghana use these products, such as Fair & Lovely, though rates are higher in other African nations. In Nigeria, for example, up to 77 per cent of women do so and in Senegal the figure is between 52 and 67 per cent. 

The use of skin lightening products is closely tied to notions of colourism, whereby women of lighter complexions are given better treatment and more opportunities than those with darker skin – something which stems from European colonialism and the globalisation of Western beauty ideals.

However, these products have some side effects that include skin irritation and inflammation, a burning or stinging sensation and itchy and flaky skin, according to the NHS. Ghana isn’t the first country to ban their sale – cosmetics containing hydroquinone are already banned in the United States, Japan, Australia and the European Union.