Should Skin Bleaching Cream be sold at our ‘beauty’ events?

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I have refrained from talking about the Afro Hair and Beauty Show because I didn’t attend, I read reviews from everyone else about it and they were all very bad so I decided not to waste my money.

I guess with a show so big, a show that is one of the very few things we have and a show that is so widely promoted we assume that they have some kind of responsibility. We hope that they will do what they say on the tin which is to promote ‘Afro hair and beauty’

Many reviewers were annoyed that the majority of the show was dedicated to wigs, weaves and relaxer. They felt there was no balance between this and natural hair. We have to be real here that’s what many women are interested in, that’s what they will pay to go and see. Also, someone made a very good point on my facebook group. They said that natural companies are smaller and cannot afford the big stand fees that they charge. The organisers are have been doing this show for years and making money, so by the looks of it that is number one on their agenda.

I say this because it has been widely reported that they sold skin bleaching creams on the day. I found this shocking and it left many questions in my mind. Is this ethical? How on earth does this promote our beauty? Do skin bleaching creams really have place at one of our beauty shows? What standard of beauty do they want us to live by then? Do the organisers use it?

So what do you think about this? Quite honestly I think it’s disgusting.



  1. I am not sure if I am surprised. I think it is sad that they actually have a market for that crap.

  2. I really like going to the event each year (even though I missed it) and I have natural hair. There has been a small, but growing rate of natural hair products available, so slow change is happening. I go because I like to see all the different things (even if I don’t wear weaves)

    About the skin bleaching – if people want it, people will sell it. I feel the same way about child relaxers of kids and cigarettes. The problem is not really about the selling but that people still feel the need to buy it. I saw the ‘Dark girls’ preview and it makes me sad that people feels this way. I never thought much about skin shade, but after having more dark skinned friends at uni (I didn’t grow up with a lot of black people), I now realise there is a lot of insecurity about shade.

    A lot of black girls I see with white guys in Europe tends to be dark skinned / very dark brown and I now think a big part of that comes from wanting too have lighter kids.

    Normally, you don’t see people running to the bleach section and I think there is a bit of embarrasment surrounding going over there. I still enjoy going to the event.

  3. Angel, I love how you mentioned the cost of natural hair companies having a stand/stall at these events. For a company like mine, the cost of having a stand was just too expensive. Ultimately it means that most British (and American) black owned hair and skin companies can’t afford to exhibit our products at an event like this. It’s a real shame. I was even thinking that maybe we need to create an alternative event for naturals and women who want an alternative to mass produced hair and beauty products. In doing so we can at least take steps towards supporting black businesses as well as promoting a positive message about black beauty. I just think it’s appauling that the biggest black hair and beauty show in the UK endorses skin bleaching and relaxers rather than natural black beauty. Things need to change.

  4. I don’t think that type of event is the place for that type of product. Last week I was coming home from the shops and I saw a man walking towards me. It was very clear even from afar that he lightened his skin. I’ve always wondered why people do this, their skin always looks obviously lightened and sometimes has red splotches. Just the fact that these things are on sale in the first lace amazes me.

  5. I used to go to the Afro hair and beauty show when I was younger, I haven’t been there for 5years, because they didn’t cater to natural hair. My hair was really long at the time, and people kept asking me what weave I had and these questions, and it made me feel like,I’m at a hair event,for my race, but yet my race have no knowledge for me to gain, so I stopped going.

    I saw a photo via twitter of a big stall they had this year for ‘fair and white’ bleaching cream and at 1st I was a big outraged, but then again, I thought, to be honest, I don’t care…if people choose to buy it, it is their choice, they know the side effects and the damage they are doing to their skin, so let them do it, the same with smokers. You can only do so much. My sound a bit ignorant, but at the same time, who in the mainstream media is telling these people it is wrong to do…no one, so they will continue to do so. It is a mental disease to want to be like another race, the only thing I feel we can do is teach those we know the love and beauty of our race and continue the message.

  6. It is sad that bleaching cream is still sold at the Afro hair and Beauty, but then they know that there is a market. I used to go to the Afro Hair and Beauty show, but I was always very disappointed, because they never had natural hair products, although I think they did have a few there this year. Apparently Mixed Chicks and one young lady who sell Root2tip was there.
    I will probably go next year to see what changes have been made.

    About black girls with European men, I think it is unfair to say that they want light skin children. Yes, they will get light skin children, but in many cases the dark skinned girls have been shunned by their own black men. Three years ago, I met two sisters at the Afro Hair and Beauty show, they were natural and they weren’t even dark skinned were married to European men. I found out that they used to go to all the black events, such as the Black Lawyers Association, Black Professional Association, Black Business and all the social events, which includes dinner and dance and many would come home disappointed, the black men never approached them, you have the same problems in predominately black church, having social events and black women being disappointed, so if other men approach, you cannot blame them, they deserve to be loved too.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think the product should be sold anywhere, least of all a black hair and beauty show. Alas it shows where a lot of us are as black women and how much work needs to be done to empower our people.

  8. Its an absolute tragedy. My aunty took my oldest daughter who came home with tales of weaves and relaxers of all shapes and sizes- she is 12 and didnt really know what Cake soap was. Why was this allowed to happen? I think that as a natural hair community we need to pull together and be represented at the forefront of this type of event. Not to prophesise but to let ladies know that there is another option. I am glad my daughter was able to laugh at alot of what was going on as we are a mostly natural family and she knows and understands her beautiful hair, but what if she didnt…….
    Jah Bless
    Naturally UK

  9. Supply and demand!! so sad but true. they sell those products where people are likely to buy them. I have major hyper pigmentation on my knees and I would love to try something to make them blend into the colour of my legs and thighs but scared they will do worst so i walk around with brown skin and black knee caps. sun block is my next option

    as for Afro Hair n Beauty show. It really is just a big market place last time I went. It could be so much more. I would love to go that bronner bros show in america to compare.

    But anyway us natural headed ladies whether in no extensions or with weave should concentrate on meet ups and within years their will be hair shows catering to our needs with us in charge. Are sisters across the pond have so many meet ups and get sponsored it can happen. I just hope more are outside London as although I am a born Londoner I dont live there anymore

    my tuppence

  10. @ naturally uk – cake soap is not really a bleaching product. vybz kartel used cake soap which is the blue detergent soap in his song. it does cool your face down in the heat – i did have to ask my jamrock based fam – but it does not bleach the skin.

    kartel newer songs actually admit to using bleaching products.

    You may know the above already but in case you didnt i thought to clarify.

  11. sadz_up says:

    wouldn’recommend bleaching skin to anyone, its left me with dark marks which i’m no trying to get rid of with really expensive exfoliaters etc…
    More over, i look much better now

  12. 5+ yrs ago, I’d just gone natural. I heard about the afro hair&beauty show and even though I was broke at the time, I found the money and my daughter and I treked from St Albans to attend this event. I’ve never been more disappointed in my life. I could have cried. For some reason, I saw the words ‘afro’&’beauty’ and assumed there would be loads of naturals and natural hair products. I learned my lesson. Never again. Thanks for bringing to my attention the loc hair meet-up on the 25th. I’m going to that. As for the bleaching creams, it really doesn’t suprise me.I can’t say organisers are exactly into health or ethics,they wouldn’t be promoting that creamy crack. Like someone mentioned the stands are expensive and small/home-based natural hair businesses will be put off. So I guess if the bleach cream sellers can pay the stand money…they’re in.

  13. at anthia-ofo: How can u say they aren’t health and ethnic just because they use relaxers. There is nothing inherently unethnical about relaxing hair. Also it is possible to maintain hair health with relaxers.

  14. @Laura, perhaps I should clarify. I did not state that they are unethical. The OP asked a question’Is this ethical?’ My point is, whether or not it’s ethical for someone to sell- or healthy for someone to use bleach creams or relaxers is clearly the least of their concerns. As for maintaining hair health with relaxers- I beg to differ. The very nature of relaxers means the bonds of the hair must be weakened, therefore the hair can never be at it’s strongest, but of course every attempt can be made to keep it from breaking with moisturisers conditioners etc