Skin lightening products have resurfaced in Harare and the demand is so great traders are willing to smuggle the illicit products into the country.
At Mupedzanhamo Market, near Rufaro stadium in Harare , vendors are making brisk business from selling the skin lightening creams.
“This is a business and I’m doing it because it’s viable. I have many clients both men and women,” boasted a vendor, who only identified herself as Amai Mark.
The creams on sale include Movatte, Extra Clair, Caro light, Princess, Epiderm among many others. Many of these products, which are smuggled from Zambia cost about $3.
“Since I began using Extra Clair my facial spots started to clear,” said a woman who was buying the cream. She said her name was Gracious, but declined to give her surname.
“Now I have a lovely lighter complexion and it’s the easiest and cheapest way of looking good.”
However, a leading cosmetic expert Kiri Davies warned of the dangers of using skin lightening creams.
“Don’t use skin lightening creams. They cause permanent damage. The side effects are irreversible…actually your skin will become three times darker than before,” said Davies, who is better known in beauty circles by her first name Kiri.
“People do come into my beauty clinic for treatment after using these products but there is not much I can do for them,” said Kiri.
“Sometimes I refer them for surgery and chemical peels which are very expensive but the fact remains that side effects cannot be reversed once they take their toll.”
Police Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said it was illegal to import banned cosmetics.
“They are prohibited chemicals, as the police we are aware of this thus we carry out occasional raids confiscating these products from vendors and once you are caught up with the law you will be charged accordingly,” said Mandipaka.
But the Mupedzanhamo vendors were not about to give up their lucrative business any time soon. They even have hip-widening tablets for women who want to be like Beyonce. The tablets cost a dollar.