If you joined the Instagram live with @beautyharbour on skin bleaching, you would remember me mentioning my dear friend who shared with me how she stopped bleaching her skin and the aftereffects. She graciously accepted to be interviewed and I was telling her she does not need to show her face or use her real name. She said, “don’t worry, I will bare it all…I want to save someone from themselves”.
Hope you enjoy reading……….
*specific brands and names were not mentioned for legal reasons
TGG: Tell us about yourself
NU: My name is Nkechi, I am a pharmacist and 41 years old (laughs). I have two siblings; a brother and sister and I am the oldest of the two girls.
TGG: What made you start bleaching your skin and when did you start?
NU: To be honest, growing up, my mum is naturally fair, my grandpa was really fair and was known as “baba oyinbo” which is yoruba for “white man” literally. My sister is also naturally fair skinned growing up, she was fairer than she is now and my brother is fair. I was dark like my dad (chocolatey). I kind of felt a little different from them and my mum used a particular body cream so I thought that made her fair and I played around with it. It did not do much for me then but I walked into the store and saw a tube with the same name and bought it as it was different from the jar.I was in secondary school.
When I got into uni, I can’t remember how I got introduced to a steroid cream, I noticed it made me fairer and my skin was really smooth. I grew up in a strict Christian home so didn’t wear make up or do my nails but I started wearing eye pencil in uni and noticed I would get compliments on my skin and how I looked with just eyeliner.
TGG: What products did you use?
NU: The tube versionof my mum’s cream, steroid cream and gel, mixed creams that I did not know what it was in them to be honest. The women would just open up the tubes, mix together and whip it. I always tried to figure it out, but I never could. I used to buy Jergens to mix with the tube creams to use on my whole body and the tube alone for my face. Then the dark knuckles came so I thought I wasn’t using enough so I would rub into really hard into my skin but it did not work.
After I got married to this person I did all of this for (remember I said I wanted to get someone’s attention….not the uni boyfriend), I did not use creams as much as I was like I am already married abeg…LOL. The marriage was quite turbulent and I was trying to have a baby so I stopped and started using some tube cream and Jergens. You know…something light….(laughs).
TGG: When your skin started to lighten, how did you feel?
NU: In Uni, I started dating a classmate who really liked light skinned girls and thought you know what? I need to up my game as I felt he would like me even more. Unfortunately for me, he wasn’t the best as he cheated a lot and I thought it was my fault and I needed to double up my game so I went to Yaba as I had heard the women there could mix cream for you (LOL). I just went to a random person and started mixing. My skin was GLOWINGGGG!!
People would ask me what cream I was using, make up looked better and my hair was dyed black so you can imagine how I looked. I got A LOT of attention. I was happy. Then came sunburn as I knew nothing about sunscreen then….I started having this greenish thing on my face and tried to clear it with even more creams. It got expensive as I started experimenting and I would spend over 200k a month as it was a day and night routine.
TGG: This cost is shocking!
NU: Yup! Day set 30k, nightset 30k , Cream 59k, Moisturiser can’t remember, soap 25k, scrub 15k, peeling agent…the list is endless
TGG: What was the wake-up call to stop?
NU: My skin got worse after I got separated. I believe the end of my marriage had me triggered and someone told me about a lady that mixes creams for a celebrity and I was like this is what I need. I called her and I said I wanted to look like said celebrity. I “consulted” with her and she gave me a cream called double whitening cream, a knuckle oil, a toner and a serum. I started using them and I became so white! Except my hands and feet (shares a video). I started using the oil on my hands and feet and it helped to peel my skin but my skin was getting thin, as in paper thin. I had to protect my hands and feet during the day because it used to hurt in the sun. I went online again as though my skin was peeling, my feet were still dark. I wanted to find something to even it out and I found something called Grace Duo. This was the beginning of the end. I am still suffering from using this. I had to move back to my parents after I separated and my mum complained so much. I knew my dad won’t say anything but he had to say something. I had green veins all over the side of my face, I had to sit in a cold environment constantly to cool my skin down as heat made my skin patchy and red and one day, I just said I can’t do this anymore and I just stopped.
Also I had a group of supportive friends who would drag me for filth!!! LOL. I could not even bring out my cream around them.I have a particular dark skinned friend who wears her skin so proudly. I envied my friends’ freedom. Their ability to wear rings, get their nails done and show off their hands. They were really supportive.
And on a lighter note, my feet made my expensive shoes looked cheap
TGG: What changed after you stopped?
NU: My hands turned black! As in black!!!! Then I could not find the cream. I started hiding my hands. I love showing off my face, neck and shoulders as my skin was smooth and fresh (I also have really nice shoulders…LOL) but used to hide my hands and feet. Even now I still subconsciously do. I started wearing covered shoes too. I went to Instagram again and found someone else who was helping women rejuvenate bleached skin. I had stopped using the steroid cream, but nothing was happening as I stopped cold turkey…no improvements. I am an Exec, I mentor people, people look up to me, but my skin was sending a different message, I was looking tacky and it made me self -conscious
I bought some of her products and Vaseline lotion. It was really horrible, and I got frustrated a lot of times.
I honestly think God just had mercy on me. I didn’t get the typical “she is no longer bleaching” look. My skin wasn’t glowy anymore so I tried yet another brand. When you stop cold turkey, you get a rash-like reaction on your face and it is hard to just leave this alone. The second brand I tried was preaching organic so I was sold but started getting light gain and I was like nahhh, not again. I left the jar outside (*wears pharmacist hat*) and noticed the colour changed!! I was like I knew it!!!!!!. I called them to complain and saying the cream may contain steroids but they denied it.
All the two brands I tried after I stopped using the bleaching creams contain steroids. No one can convince me otherwise. Organic skincare people are EVIL!!I was livid!!! My friends abroad use the same cream and I have warned them about it
TGG: Any regrets?
NU: All the things I had to do to reverse my skin were hectic. I have a picture at my secondary school graduation. I was holding something, and my hands looked beautiful! Now it is tainted. I inherited my mum’s skin (I have never had one pimple in my entire life) and I know with nurture; it would have thrived if I never touched any of those “creams”. I feel bad and wish I never bleached my skin and I regret it so much but today; I love my skin. I get irritated when I see “yellow” faces and darker bodies as I know what happened. Now I match face foundation with my hands not my body so it was usually a little darker than my neck.
TGG: What do you use on your skin now?
NU: Eucerin lotion, Johnson & Johnson Baby Oil, Sheabutter from SheerLuxury (My friend used this on her hands and the smell was heavenly and her hands were so soft, I knew I had to have it) and it is really affordable given the exchange rate affecting the cost of Eucerin.
TGG: I got the Sheabutter from SheerLuxury as a souvenir recently and it is amazing. Whipped to perfection
NU: Lockdown came, and I used just the sheabutter for most of the time. I also used it for my hair
TGG: Any advice for anyone currently bleaching or thinking of lightening their skin?
NU: I would say to him or her…IT IS NOT WORTH IT. There are a lot more products that help your skin look good without damaging it. There is make-up, accessories, all sorts of things. If it is for someone else, to belong, etc, it will never be enough (the guy I kept lightening my skin for did not stay) If it is for yourself, you can find something beautiful about yourself and make it the centre of your beauty like your eyes, your lips. People will focus on what you make beautiful. For me it is my skin texture.
TGG: I would add your warm personality too
NU: Thanks! Also, it is not sustainable, you do not get it right. In the history of bleaching, no one has been able to get it right, they will always look tacky. The hands and feet never lie. Do not start what will end in tears.
TGG: Phew! This was so eye opening. To see it through your own eyes and know what and why. Thank you so much for your time Nkechi! I hope someone takes something away from this
Hope you enjoyed reading. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section