Skin bleaching is a cosmetic whitening process practiced by people of color all over the world. Under the influence of the European beauty standard, light skin has been associated with attractiveness and a higher social status in many cultures across the globe.
A 2013 report titled “Global Beauty Industry Trends in the 21st Century” stated that 23 percent of global beauty industry sales are derived from skin care products. According to the report, skin care is a growing market, with most of that increase coming from countries in Asia and Africa. This trend has been attributed to the rise in bleaching product sales. India tops the list with 80 percent of all skin-whitening sales within Asia. Nigeria accounts for 77 percent of all bleaching sales in Africa.
The World Health Organization warns that skin bleaching may come with hazardous health consequences. The dangers associated with the use of toxic compounds for skin bleaching can include blood cancers such as leukemia and cancers of the liver and kidneys, as well as severe skin conditions. The organization reports that hardcore bleachers use illegal ointments containing toxins such as mercury, a metal that blocks skin color production properties of melanin.