JAMAICA’S leading beauty experts say affluent professional women are among Jamaicans who bleach their skin, putting to rest the assumption that it was only people from the country’s inner-cities who are engaged in the controversial practice.
“People think it’s only in the ghetto and downtown, but you have lawyers, doctors and everyone (doing it) because they want to be fair. It is the thing for Jamaicans, Caribbean nationals and Africans,” said Jencare Skin Farm’s principal, Jennifer Samuda, who disapproved of the practice.
Samuda was among eight beauty experts who participated in yesterday’s weekly Observer Monday Exchange at the newspaper’s Beechwood Avenue head office in Kingston 5. A former Observer Business Leader nominee, Samuda, who established an international cosmetic empire and spa complex, said that skin bleaching is prevalent uptown, based on client examination.
“I get these people hourly,” she told reporters and editors, as she expressed concern about a doctor who has been bleaching her skin. “I have already asked the doctor, operating for 20 years, ‘what happened?’ Because when she takes off her make-up she is lighter than the (white) paper in front of you. She bleached from toe to head.”
At the same time, Marie Hall-Smith, director of The Face Place, said that clients have been requesting treatments to “brighten” their face when they really mean “lighten”.
“There is something in our psyche or culture and I don’t know what it is,” she said, adding that a client would perpetually bleach despite the damage done.
“We will repair her skin with all kinds of boosters. But they come back in a month’s time with the same thing. I had to tell a woman that you need help here,” she said, pointing to her head, suggesting that persons like that client were in need of counselling.
Earlier this month, popular entertainer Vybz Kartel defended his skin bleaching while delivering a lecture at the University of the West Indies. He maintained that he lightened his skin to highlight his tattoos, rather than to reflect any sort of black self-hatred. His skin-lightening has ignited a firestorm locally and throughout the Diaspora. Initially, the entertainer claimed in an interview that the use of cake soap (laundry detergent) resulted in his noticeably lighter complexion.
Blue Power Group Limited, which manufactures cake soap detergent, stated that it was approached by one of Kartel’s producers to use the company equipment for a video shoot. The company agreed on condition that “they must tell people that the blue soap that we make will have no effect on bleaching the skin”, chairman Dr Dhiru Tanna said.