I was listening to Ace of Base’s song Cruel Summer when a skinny blonde passed me at neck of the wood walking majestically with more like a robot enhanced walking style only to realise that its summer and the beaus are out there to impress bloke’s who are interested in…..! As they say, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but it’s a life defining quest for others.In today’s, the emphasis of beauty is firmly on the pursuit of perfectly tanned or sun-kissed skin, despite the risk of cancer and permanent skin cell damage.In most places, including Africa, many women are on a quest for fair skin, opting for whitening creams to lighten their skin as they believe fair skin to be more beautiful.Primary examples are Kenya’s socialite Vera Sidika whose bum has confounded many blokes and Uganda’s Bad Black who gained international recognition after swindling more than four million pounds she had control over from her UK boyfriend they met in a Kampala night club.Both women, when you watch their clips online, you’ll note they can hardly express themselves in English which is a standard language taught in elementary schools in Kenya and Uganda.That tells you they are both illiterate women who were lucky enough to use their whitened skins to target their would be partners. In their quest, some women have started spending a lot on the latest beauty products and treatments. A bank employee working with a Ugandan bank told me few years back how she could not afford to spend big on cosmetics but went to a beauty clinic for treatments.“I meet a lot of people through my job so I want to look good. I feel good and beautiful when I wear makeup,” said the then 30 year old mother of three.
With her limited budget, just like many other women, her beauty secrets, the ever present whitening creams come from the shelves of department stores and supermarkets. “Most of the exfoliators or face creams you buy at the supermarket in Kampala have it whitening effect, so you use it. It’s different from what you get overseas but of course I want my skin to look nice too,” said the banker, who spends around $20 a month on skin and hair products.In Moshi Tanzania, few years ago I came across a housewife who was a regular at a leading skincare clinic, not to mention her weekly trip to the beauty salon, spending some $150 a month on massages, facials, manicures and more. “I want to look nice for my husband but I also feel nice when I get the treatments,” she told your blogger. “It sounds like I spend a lot but I don’t mind, that’s what I do.”Even when accounting for inflation, improved economic conditions in Tanzania means that per capita, disposable income has almost doubled since 2006 and income has jumped up 19 percent since 2010. With that said, there is little wonder why Tanzania consumers are hitting the stores with full force and full wallets, according to a survey released four months ago. A director of cosmetic treatment stores in Moshi shared with that when she started the business 7 years ago, compared to other East African countries, not many Tanzania women were using cosmetics.
The company now operates 6 stores in Moshi and Arusha.The trend only really started to grow around 2010, said the lady, who believes that if women were to only use basic products daily, it should be a light sunscreen and powder with false lashes and eyeliner just to make a statement.She even believed that Tanzania women only started to take more notice of their appearance after the age of 20.“Sometimes we even see university students who don’t use makeup at all, but in other countries like Uganda, they start to use makeup at a very young age,” says the lady who was surprised at the fact that I don’t look women who put make up twice.Overall, the current African market trend shows a demand for scientifically tested safe and natural products, but some women still want natural whitening products and color trends.A strong beauty ritual had been instilled in many African women from a very young age by their mothers, who taught them to follow holistic beauty regiments, from the outside in. I know of a Uganda female friend who every 7 days, she would have a facial and a body massage at a local salon to improve blood circulation and reduce cellulite, a practice that whenever would meet I wouldn’t buy to her ideas of such spendthrift spending but she was lucky her boyfriend could afford the $100 per week costs.As a person, I believe in regular exercise and positive thinking as complements to any person’s beauty routine because inner beauty will show on your face.Despite the rising popularity of whitening products, the pursuit of lighter skin is being phased out and companies are moving toward increasing health and beauty awareness. Raising awareness on dangers or UV radiation will require new solutions to protect against UV and control pigmentation. Apart from buffoons, the first thing you see in a person is his or her physical appearance just like the beau who passed me in the neck of the woods. Hence, there is certainly a view that taking care of our appearance is correlated to feeling good about ourselves and its not just about having a light skin….am black and proud after all25.