The arrival of an American reality TV star to launch her skin-lightening line in Lagos stirred up some controversy in the recent weeks, as people debated how harmful skin-bleaching is and if it’s appropriate for celebrities to promote such products.
That said, if you take a stroll down the cosmetics section of any Nigerian market or superstore, there is a high chance you will come across a variety of skin lightening products ranging from soaps, creams, and serums. Blac Chyna’s arrival aside, Nigeria is one of the largest markets for skin-bleaching products.
Skin-bleaching is big
The global market for skin lightening products is growing and is estimated to reach $20 billion by the end of the year, driven by strong demand among men and women across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
Skin lightening products are unbelievably popular in Nigeria. The World Health Organisation (WHO) published a report in 2011 estimating that 77% of Nigerian women use skin lightening products regularly. This is in comparison with 59% in Togo, 35% in South Africa, and 27% in Senegal. In fact, bleaching products are reportedly the fourth most sought-after household item by African women, alongside essentials like soap, milk, and tea.
In Lagos, the skin lightening market has found a permanent home. The industry is so huge that it adequately caters to individuals of different social class. Product prices range from as little as ₦5,000 to as high as ₦150,000, depending on the brand and method of application. The amount of people who use skin lightening products is quite alarming in a country where the minimum wage is only ₦18,000. And, unsurprisingly, the exposure to popular western culture has also led to a demand for more expensive foreign products and consequently led to higher prices.
Money is clearly being made here, but it is not an excuse to ignore the requirement for public education on the issue of colourism and the consequences of the skin lightening process.
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Source: Stears Business