Despite its adverse health effects, bleaching is on the rise as its products are heavily patronised in Accra.
Checks at the Accra Central Business District, Kaneshie, Jamestown, Chorkor, and Madina showed that demand for such products had gone up.
The vendors said they were making more money from the sale of the products now than they used to.
For another seller, Mrs Becky Samson, she changed her line of business from second-hand clothes to cosmetics because she observed that such products moved faster.
Asked if they were aware of the adverse effects of bleaching, she said it was a matter of choice and that most people mostly desired a lighter skin tone for which reason they used such bleaching products.
She said lighter skin tone was seen by both sexes, including the old and young, as a symbol of beauty, attractiveness and self-esteem.
Some patrons interviewed said beauty standards, often promoted by the media and advertising companies, reinforced the idea that lighter skin tone was more desirable, forcing men and women to bleach their skin.
Also, they indicated that it was now normal as most people, particularly the educated and wealthy, aside from the use of bleaching creams and soaps, took pills and injections to alter their skin.
According to them, people bleached or went in for skin lightening or whitening creams due to the lack of confidence, social media pressures, family and peer influences.
NaaAdoley, a vendor, said pills and injectables containing bleaching ingredients like hydroquin one, a depigmenting agent used to lighten the skin, have now become the new frontiers for those seeking a lighter complexion.
She indicated that though there have been several cautions about skin whitening, the quest for a lighter skin would not stop as long as the act was seen as a pinnacle of beauty.
Mrs Agnes Asante, a buyer at Jamestown, said that was the new trend as she and her friends were involved in the use of such products, adding that “everywhere we go with our beauty, people approach us because we attract them and that has given us more friends.”
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has, on many occasions, warned the public of dire health consequences for those using glutathione, and popularly called bleaching pills, creams and injectables.
Last year, for instance, it said users of the pills, creams and injectables could suffer side effects such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss and allergic reactions.
Other side effects associated with the use of the bleaching pills, it said, were renal failure, damaged lungs, toxic epidermal disease and exacerbated asthma.
This has not stopped importers from bringing the products into the country by either using illegal routes of entry or concealing them from being seized by authorities.