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Hеаlth Cоnsеquеnсеs Assосiаtеd with Hydrоquinоnе and оthеr Hаrmful Cоsmесеutiсаls Blеасhing Agеnts among Afriсаn Men and Wоmеn in Austrаliа


In Australia, skin bleaching is a common practice whereby men and women use skin-whitening products to they can lighten their skin color. Skin bleaching is also an anti-aging therapy that seeks to restore the skin to its younger self by making it smooth and free of wrinkles (Jain, 2012). Many society members embrace skin bleaching because societal institution associates the white or brown color with superiority. Moreover, there is still skin racism prevalent in the society that judge people by their skin color making people accrue self-judgment traits. As such, they embark on skin lightening creams to improve their color and resemble people from western world (Ladizinski, 2012). The South Sudan African women in Australia have been affected by this trait and embark on using harmful bleaching agents to lighten their skin color. The use of the bleaching agents causes significant health risks such as blotchiness and skin thinning. It is in this regard that this paper seeks to outline how South Sudan women perceive skin bleaching and portray its detrimental health effects.


The South Sudanese women in Australia result to using banned bleaching creams such as hydroquinone to lighten their skin color. It is evident that only 20 % of South Sudan women maintain their skin color while 80% embark on bleaching. Young girls between the age of 14-24, women between 25-34 and older women between 35-55 years use the bleaching creams in Australia. When it comes to men, the most affected group is boys aged between 19 to 24 years of age. About 80% of the Sudanese women use illegal skin breaching agents, and 79% percent do not realize the harmful effects of the products. More pertinently, 1% of the users ignore the products health impacts.

South Sudanese women use skin-whitening products to appear white and gain acceptance in the Australian population. A white skin in Australia is a key to accessing many economic and cultural privileges from the societal institutions. According to Singh (2009), whitening cosmetics helps to disable African features by giving them an aesthetic makeover. The Sudanese women believe that a white skin is associated with royalty and uplifts their social class. As such, the society readily integrates them and gives them white privileges.

The skin whitening creams are obtained from pharmacies and online stores that sell them illegally. Other skin whitening creams are obtained from illegal shipping from countries such as Asia, South Africa, and West Africa. These countries are known to have rogue traders who seek to supply the highly demanded product to South Sudanese women. The creams contain high –dose steroids and mercury that reduces a person skin layer making them susceptible to UV rays from the sun. As such, this can lead to dangerous sunburns, which increases their vulnerability to skin cancer. Extreme use of these compounds can result in a skin condition known as ochronosis. Ochronosis occurs when a person skin is exposed to harmful chemicals over a long period making their skin considerably darker than the normal self-does.

One of the major common bleaching agents used with these compounds is hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is commonly used because it reduces the amount of melanin a person produces on their skin surfaces. Thus, this makes a person skin appear whiter and makes them susceptible to the negative impacts of UV rays from the sun. Various medical studies indicate that hydroquinone is a carcinogen, and this means that it poses a compound that can cause cancer. The compound is known to destroy skin strength by destroying cell cartilage and tissues. Thus, this explains why persons using the bleaching products end up with rough patches and blotched skins (Teodor, 2009). For instance, hydroquinone removes the body natural strong hold and allows the sunrays to damage the skin.

For a person to prevent such occurrence, they need to use other illegal creams to prevent the skin anomalies. If they do not use those correction creams, the person could accrue other fatal health issues. For instance, when they are exposed to the sun, the skin will darken instead of getting lighter. In fact, the regular use of hydroquinone causes serious skin irritation for persons with allergies or sensitive skin. In some cases, it causes skin redness and intense skin itchiness and irritation.

Due to the severe effects of hydroquinone, public health officials created other safer alternatives that can be used to bleach the skin. The products are derived from plant products; they occur naturally on the earth surface with little side effects. Such products include kojic acid, lactic acid, vitamin C and Arbutin contain safe ingredients for bleaching purposes. The products do not have any health risks, and they can help lighten an individual skin color. The products also contain ingredients that can help eliminate skin spots, wrinkles, and lines on the body. Moreover, they contain sunscreen agents that prevent the skin from UV rays thus, preventing premature aging. In fact, they contain antioxidants elements that help to protect the skin from unfriendly disturbances. Nevertheless, the public health officials conduct anti-bleaching campaigns to educate people on the harmful effects of hydroquinone. The campaign seeks to put to an end to the use of hydroquinone in Australia and prevents its detrimental effect on the use. As such, the campaign encourages users to use natural bleaching creams that have fewer skin irritations, but will help regenerate their skin.

Apparently, the government has applied stringent measures that seek to ban the illegal sale of white bleaching creams. For instance, it is illegal in Australia to promote or sell bleaching products that hydroquinone. However, Australian laws allow companies to make skin-bleaching products for export purposes. Hong Kong is the largest markets that receive the skin whitening products from Australia. The damaging effects of the bleaching cream are taken with seriousness by the country’s law. In fact, there are instances where people have apprehended for possessing skin-lightening creams that are not medically prescribed. Conversely, the actions taken by the government bear futile results because it does not shut the supply of the products.


It is evident that skin-bleaching agents cause detrimental health impacts to the users. It is proven that women who use skin-lightening creams, which contain hydroquinone, suffer from skin irritation and blotching. It is imperative that Sudanese women should be empowered to know that a person skin color does not define their beauty. In fact, an individual skin color does play a significant role in determining their physical abilities and social relations. A person emotional health determines their outward appearance. Therefore, a bleaching agent cannot make a person look beautiful if they do not feel beautiful from the inside.


Ladizinski, B. (2012). Widespread Use of Toxic Skin Lightening Compounds: Medical and Psychosocial Aspects. Dermatologic Clinics , 111-123.

Singh, S. (2009). Cosmetic dermatitis — current perspectives. International Journal of Dermatology , 533-542.

Teodor, A. (2009). Chemical peeling with trichloroacetic acid and lactic acid for infraorbital dark circles. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology , 204-209.