The skincare issue: Licensed aestheticians talk about the bleaching pandemic in Nigeria

Before they came to the scene, many people were left to the devices of uncertified and unapproved cosmetologists.

Aderonke ‘Mz Dior’ Shobande is a beauty esthetician with over six years of experience. She is in the process of getting certified as a qualified aesthetician. She spoke about why she entered the world of skincare;

“Well, I’ve always loved skincare growing up, to be honest, and my mum didn’t joke with her skincare either.”.

“However, when I became mature and got out of the university, I saw a huge void in the industry. The void was people lack proper knowledge and even till date they still do.”

“I made a few mistakes along the line, and with the experiences I had, I decided I was gonna do it and do it right.”

With the number of skincare and beauty influencers increasing daily, is there any infighting between them?

ugo, a skin and wellness expert, said nothing like that exists in their industry, “I really can’t say to be honest. I hardly get that vibe though. I see them collaborating a lot, so I doubt there’s that competition. If there is, I believe it’s a healthy one.”

However, there is a common enemy, unlicensed whitening cream sellers.

Aderonke says this about them; “Here in Nigeria, we have very questionable products. We see things like Egyptian wash or Cleopatra white.”

“A lot of their products claim to give certain results in such a short amount of time which isn’t ideal. The skin itself takes 28-30days to rejuvenate itself.”

“There’s also a large amount of damage that is being done by these so-called products and some consumers of these products have stepped up to complain about experiencing skin damage or that their concerns even got worse after using these products.”

I also had a conversation with Ololade Fasuba, owner of Viviglow, a medical aesthetician and cosmetic scientist who trended for calling out popular skincare brand, Jenny’s Glow for selling harmful products;

This is why she had to speak against the unlicensed and unregulated skincare entrepreneurs; “Unethical skincare brands are also a problem, as they taint the image of other reputable, ethical and professional skincare brands in Nigeria. It makes it hard to enhance brand positioning and gain trust from first-time buyers.”

Why are Nigerian women obsessed with bleaching products? Lola has some reasons;

1) Colorism plays a huge role.

Light skinned people are automatically seen as more attractive. A lot of TVs and social media advertisements promote light skin. Light skin is commonly attributed to “pretty privilege”

2) Low self-esteem and bullying

Pressure and bullying from friends and loved ones have influenced a lot of women to bleach their skin to get the same attention as light-skinned people.

Some people go into skin bleaching not because they want to, but because they have a low level of self-esteem and lack self-confidence and self-acceptance.

3) Hyperpigmentation and lack of proper skin education

People who have hyperpigmentation skin disorders (excess melanin production) which leads to discolouration issues like dark spots, and melasma purchase skin bleaching products because they don’t know what else to use for their skin.

They end up lightening their entire face whilst making their discolouration and dark spots more visible.

To even their skin out, they proceed to use more of these bleaching products on their body.”

But what options do these aestheticians have? Do they start producing skin products themselves?

Lola lists the challenges in making good products that are kind to women

“1) Many of the materials we use for production are not sold in Nigeria. Getting the majority of the raw materials and cosmetic ingredients shipped into the country is expensive and frustrating.

2) Quality packaging is expensive and also requires shipping into the country, and customs don’t make it any easier.

3) Heavy duty manufacturing machines are very pricey and also take a lot of time and require a lot when it’s being cleared.”

Aderonke attempted to manufacture products but stopped;

I started as a cosmetic formulator, but the cost of making international standard skincare in Nigeria is quite pricey and the raw materials aren’t readily available. I source them from the US, not everyone is willing to buy a 500ml lotion for 75k.”

“Also, because a lot of homegrown skincare brands hide under the umbrella of organic skincare only to sell products that will damage people’s skin in the end, I stopped formulating full time and switched to aesthetics and retailing of foreign skincare products.”

“Is profit in selling skincare products? Yes! However, the foreign exchange goes a long way in affecting pricing, and it’s such a competitive market.”

“I’ll personally say that most of my profit currently comes from consultations and services which include facials, peels and treatments. A little bit of retail as well.”

“When it comes to influencing, I’m not so big on it, but I love to share and educate individuals in whichever way I can.”

What does the future hold for Nigerian women and their skin?

Well, these aestheticians and many skin care influencers offer good advice, but nothing beats going for an actual consultation and buying products that fit your skin or skin condition.

You wouldn’t take just any drug when you are sick, so why treat your skin that way?

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