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Life on the lighter side

Carol Martindale

Life on the lighter side

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Dem a Bleach,

Dem a Bleach out dem skin.

Dem a Bleach,

To look like a Browning.

(Dem A Bleach – Nardo Ranks)

Leighann is not ashamed to admit that she has been bleaching her skin from head to toe for the last ten years – straight.

In fact, she also confesses she is addicted to bleaching.

It’s a daily ritual for her. She creams her skin from her head to toe, every day and every night.

She uses a mix of about four or five creams plus the soap to keep her complexion “flawless and bright”.

Leighann, who is in her early 30s, says she was a “darkie”.

She wasn’t happy with her complexion before she started bleaching her skin. She just didn’t like being that dark. In fact, when she started, it was only to tone, but then she got hooked.

“This bleaching thing is like a drug. It is addictive. You can’t stop, especially when you see how pretty your skin look,” she said, shying away from taking pictures.

Leighann also believes that she gets more attention from the guys now that she is lighter in complexion. “Men love a browning. I don’t care what people say, every single body bleaching. Some people bleaching to tone up, some bleaching to get clear and some bleaching to get rid of marks,” she added.

To keep her skin tone intact, she said she also stays away from the sun. “The sun is my worst enemy. The beach, too, and the salt water cause it does make you get dark, too so I stay away.”

Leighann says even though it is very expensive to maintain her beauty regimen, she has been able to keep up even in hard times.

It’s important to her, she says.

Leighann uses four creams that range from $18 to $30, as well as a soap which costs $12. Each month she spends about $110 in her products.

In fact, she is so serious about her bleaching process that she does her own mix which she keeps in the fridge to “marinate”.

Women aren’t the only ones bleaching their skin to get a fairer complexion. Some men are also lightening up, too.

Take Delano Linton, who says that for the last two months he has been bleaching his skin and enjoying the attention he is getting from the girls.

Linton, 25, said he is loving his new look.

He also uses bleaching creams all over his body every day and night.

“When I bleach I see how the girls check for me when I land places,” he said, noting that some don’t even recognise him.

He also uses different types of products but cautions others looking to try it, not to do so unless they could afford it. “If you don’t have the money, then don’t bother,” he said.

Sheena Maynard, a supervisor at Beauty Exchange, said bleaching products were in very high demand.

“From the time you open the doors on mornings, you can guarantee that you will sell bleaching products,” she said.

She said these items were some of the fastest moving products on their shelves, which they are forced to frequently restock.

“If a customer is accustomed to one product and they can’t get it because it is not in stock, they are always willing to try something else,” she added, explaining there was a wide range of products on local shelves.

She said while women of all ages were bleaching, she noted it was mainly those in their 20s and 30s buying the products.

She also said some men were also bleaching.

“People who work in the sun are bleaching because they want to get their skin tone back,” she added.

Dermatologist Dr Sean Bullen advised that there were many dangers associated with bleaching.

In fact he said individuals looking to bleach their skin should always seek medical and professional advice.

He highlighted the dangers of bleaching, namely the harmful active ingredient hydroquinone which is found in many products, as well as steroids.

Research shows that Hydroquinone is used to lighten the dark patches of skin which is also called hyperpigmentation, melisma, liver spots, age spots and freckles.

Medical research also shows that regular use of products containing this ingredient can cause serious irritation of the skin, and in some cases can cause extreme redness, itching or even a burning sensation.

Bullen also said that it can also cause a paradoxical permanent darkening of the skin which can be very difficult to reverse.

He said products containing Hydroquinone, prescribed or not, were banned in Europe, while in the United States they could only be obtained by prescription.

Turning his attention to the products which contain another common ingredient, steroids, Bullen said this could cause the skin to thin.

“It thins the skin and sometimes causes it to stretch. In fact, it can even become ‘papery thin’”.

“All these combined elements can put you at risk,” he cautioned.

Bullen said bleaching was a worldwide problem especially among people of colour, but urged people who were having problems with skin pigmentation to be guided by a dermatologist.