The long, hard struggle against skin lightening creams is over!
Just after Christmas last year, the Department of Health made a new law banning the creams.
From 1 July 1988, skin lightening creams will no longer be for sale in the shops – and factories will no longer be allowed to make them.
The creams have been banned because they are dangerous. The creams make the skin lighter at first -but after about three months, the skin goes darker than before.
The creams leave dark patches on the skin. They also leave lots of little lumps all over the face and anywhere the cream is used. The dark patches and lumps will not go away.
The faces of millions of women in South Africa have been harmed forever by these creams. There is nothing that doctors can do to help them.
The new law is a victory for the doctors, women’s and consumer organisations, and even Learn and Teach, who struggled to get these creams banned. But the victory would have been even sweeter if the Health Department had not dragged its feet for so long before making the new law.
The National Black Consumers Association (NBCA) is one of the organisations that was fighting against skin lighteners. The president of the NBCA, Dr Ellen Khuzwayo said: “We are very happy that the government has decided to ban these terrible creams.”
But Dr Khuzwayo is worried that some people will still sell skin lightening creams “under the counter”.
“Many people who use skin lighteners do not know about the harm that these creams do. They are the people who will buy skin lighteners from the shops through the back door,” she said.
The Health Department says that people who sell or make skin lighteners will be punished. It says it will send inspectors to make sure that factories have stopped making these creams and that shops are not selling them.
Learn and Teach spoke to one of the bosses of the biggest skin lightening cream factory in South Africa, Twins Pharmaceuticals. The man, who asked us not to use his name, still closes his eyes to the dangers of skin lightening creams – he still says that skin lighteners are safe if you use them properly.
It is easy to understand why even now he cannot see how harmful these creams are. People in South Africa spend about R70-million on skin lighteners every year. R70-million is enough money to make most people blind.
The factories are sure to make as much money as they can in the few months left until the creams are banned. Twins says it will carry on making and selling skin lighteners as before until 1 July.
But stop buying those creams now! Don’t keep buying them until July 1-the companies have made enough money and the creams have already done more than enough damage!