Skin Bleaching in Ghana: Why FDA Banned Hydroquinone Cosmetic Products


Skin bleaching in Ghana -Hydroquinone is an active agent found in skin bleaching products. Scientists have conducted several studies which prove that the agent can cause skin cancer. It is found in many toning products which flood in an out of the markets.

Hydroquinone is commonly used by people across the Caribbean, African and West African countries for skin bleaching. But this practice can have harmful side effects like skin irritation, blistering, and discoloration.

Read: Actress Victoria Mekpah’s Advice to Ghanaians Against Skin Bleaching

These and much more formed the grounds on which the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) placed the ban on skin bleaching products. The FDA has been on a long sensitization program aimed at educating market women and other groups on the negative effects of bleaching.

However, the body decided to augment the talks with some actions. This ban is sure to affect cosmetics traders in the country who deal mostly with skin whitening products. According to the FDA all products containing hydroquinone will not be allowed into the country.

FDA Implemented Ban in January 2017

Talks on the FDA ban of skin bleaching products started way back in 2016 following the prevailing rate of skin related issues, stemming from the use of hydroquinone products. Earlier in 2016, the FDA issued a deadline to the sellers to clear any products with hydroquinone in them.

The ban itself was implemented in January 2017. According to the Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, Delese Mimi Darko bleaching creams were banned from entering the country as from January 2017. Since the said date, the FDA says no product is registered woth hydroquinone in it.

The health body has had meetings with all the importers of creams and has told them what is attainable in the new standard. More so, cosmetic dealers have also been briefed on the new development.



High Rate of Skin Bleaching in Ghana

According to reports, up to 70 percent of women use skin lightening products. This is due to the seeming condemnation or segregation of darker-skinned people.

While some go for the mild and less active ones, others who are impatient go for those products that are thoroughly soaked with hydroquinone -for quick action.

But then, the prominent existence of skin bleaching in Ghana has not suppressed the social stigma attached to publicly admitting that you actually use them; given what attempting to lighten your skin actually means.

However, some really do not mind. Celebrities are not left out in this, a number of high profile celebrities have been accused of using hydroquinone products to lighten their skin.

An odd but true story to back the above assertion is that of popular Ghanaian boxer Bukom Banku who suddenly developed a craving for light skin and opted to excessive use of bleaching creams. Banku’s sudden cravings, however, did not last long as the boxer stopped bleaching following truck loads of criticisms hurled at him.

Ghana not Alone on Skin Bleaching Products Ban 

Asides Ghana, countries like Australia, United States and Japan, have also banned the use of chemicals found in skin bleaching products.

Hydroquinone was banned in the U.S. in 2006 after the country’s FDA concluded that it couldn’t rule out whether or not it had the tendency to cause cancer.

Though the creams are no longer sold in the U.S. or in many EU member countries, it’s still commonly used across the world to achieve lighter skin tones. In some countries, the substance is sometimes prescribed by dermatologists to treat uneven skin tone.