Nigerian-Cameroonian pop musician Dencia is becoming the talk of social media networks and Nigerian blogs with the release of her “skin care” line ‘Whitenicious’. Whitenicious promises to help users rid themselves of pesky dark spots by gradually lightening the hyper-pigmented areas of their skin. Although this is what the musician is advertising, from the looks of Dencia’s skin, she’s been using it (or something more powerful) to transform her complexion from deep mahogany to a very pale white.
Clutch magazine reported that according to the Whitenicious website, the cream (priced between $50-$150) is a “fast acting, 7 day dark spot remover” that is “a moisturizing cream enriched with powerful natural ingredients that will nourish your skin and lighten dark knuckles, knees and elbows.” Some Nigerian beauty blogs display before and after photos of Whitenicious users showing their once luminous dark skin transformed to milky white.
Dencia has been inundated with criticism (and praise) about her skin-toning line via Twitter, but she isn’t fazed. Along with re-tweeting links to mentions of her product, she’s been taking on critics who deride her for promoting and capitalizing on self-hate.
“Skin toning,” as it’s called in Nigeria, is big business. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 77-percent of Nigerian women, the highest percentage in the world, use skin-lightening products regularly. While some lighten their skin to adhere to a Western standard of beauty, many women bleach their skin because it affords them better marriage prospects and a greater chance at social mobility.
Skin-bleaching has terrible consequences. Skin burns, rashes, and permanent abrasions are common. Moreover many creams contain toxic levels of mercury, and some include agents that may cause leukemia, and cancer of the liver and kidneys. Despite this, skin-bleaching has become a multibillion-dollar business around the world. Although the practice is rampant in Africa, the industry’s popularity extends far beyond the continent. Nearly 61 percent of skin-care products in India contain bleaching agents, and 40 percent of women in China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the Republic of Korea admitted to bleaching.