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Rwanda Starts Movement To Ban All Skin Bleaching Products

By Sharelle Burt

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Officials in Rwanda aren’t feeling the new skin bleaching movement.

A campaign in the East African country is calling on residents to stop using the products that contain hydroquinone, an ingredient that banned in cosmetics. President Paul Kagame implemented the initial ban after he started discussions about it on social media. He responded to a post saying that the creams are unhealthy and asked the country’s Ministry of Health and police to move “this in very quickly.”

RELATED: Blac Chyna Facing Backlash For Promoting Skin Bleaching Cream In Nigeria

The country’s Standards Board issued a warning to the public last month about the different names for hydroquinone. “All the ingredients that can help in body bleaching, skin bleaching, are banned,” a government spokesperson said. Markets in Kigali, the capital city, are being monitored, as well as provinces across the central African country, taking all skin-lightening and bleaching products from vendors. So far, Rwandan police have seized over 5,000 bleaching products like lotions, oils, soaps, and sprays from beauty shops all over. “We are now putting much effort, like educating people, going around and seizing those illegal products,” Francois Uwinkindi, director of the cancer unit at the Ministry of Health said.

Even though Ghana and the Ivory Coast issued a ban a few years ago, skin lightening creams are being sold legally in other parts of Africa. Reality star Blac Chyna received intense backlash when she announced a partnership with beauty line called Whitenicious, a face cream in Lagos, Nigeria. According to Global Industry analysts, the market for skin-lighteners is projected to hit $31.2 billion by 2024, especially in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Close to 25 percent of women in Mali, 77 percent in Nigeria, and 59 percent in Togo use skin-bleaching products on the regular.

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