Chemical skin lightening has become so popular among young people in Jamaica that health officials have launched a campaign to teach them about the dangers of using such products.
The campaign, “Don’t Kill the Skin,” began last month. The health ministry has put up ads mostly in schools and inner city communities, as well as hold talks and hand out literature about skin bleaching.
The focus will be on products that contain hydroquinone, a substance that reduces the melanin growth in the skin, Dalley said. Hydroquinone is also used as a developing agent in photography and as an antioxidant in rubber and food, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Skin lightening has become increasingly popular among teenagers, and skin bleaching creams can be bought from roadside vendors. Many youth use the creams, or items like corn meal and toothpaste, on their faces.
Several top dancehall songs discourage people from bleaching their skin, and it’s generally looked down upon in the Caribbean island.
Those who use or sell illegal bleaching products can be fined 50,000 Jamaican dollars (US$745; ?575) under the country’s Food and Drug Act.