The Disturbing trend of Baby Skin-Bleaching

There is a disturbing trend going on amongst new mothers in Nigeria, and it emanated from the glorification of light skin. It comes from the fact that many people elevate people will light skin over those with darker skin. It has always been an issue amongst black African adults, but many of us never guessed that it would be such a cancer that would permeate into the choices we make when we raise our children.

As a mother to a fairly light skinned baby, you get to hear comments like "Oh wow, he’s light. That's nice." To be honest, that is not an issue for me. The issue is when people start to compare their babies’ skins, with inference that the lighter the baby, the more beautiful.

This menace has gotten so bad that mothers are toning bleaching their babies’ skin. Oh yes. We now lie to ourselves saying things like “we are maintaining the colour of the baby’s skin. We don’t want the baby to lose the light skin, and be darker.” But who really are we kidding?

Firstly, if the baby is truly light, why does the skin colour need to be maintained? We know that to maintain the shine and true tone of a skin, what you need is to bathe the baby well, oil well, or moiturise well. A dash of Shea butter here, A teaspoon of Coconut oil there, and you will be maintaining the skin colour well. But when we begin to act like science students, using our innocent babies’ skins for experiment, mixing shea butter with Funbact-A, we are no more “maintaining” jack. Some mothers even mix the shea butter with other bleaching ingredients, while others outrightly use “toning” serums and bleaching creams. What is wrong with us?

Secondly, what is wrong with a baby getting dark, are we not black Africans? Are you saying there’s something wrong with the black skin or a dark-skinned baby? Does a baby’s dark skin reduce his chances at becoming somebody in life? Many people guilty of this are dark-skinned themselves. Are you saying you hate your own skin so much that you would not want your child to carry that same “burden”? In my opinion, parents guilty of this have an orientation problem, and they are not so hard to find. Just go to nairaland, and you will see them all over.

Thirdly, are we really not being selfish when we put our children through this? I wrote about Five selfish traits babies reveal in humans some weeks ago. I should have added this point to it. When we want to lighten our babies’ skins, it is not really about the baby’s desire, it is really about us, what we want to see, what we want people to say about our babies, etc. We do not consider the fact that many of these things are harmful to adults’ skins, talk less of babies’ skins that are so tender. For God’s sake, Funbact-A is a steroid cream! Why are we applying steroids on the skins of our children every single day? Something that is meant to be a prescription to be used once in blue moon for skin diseases are now being abused just because we want to “maintain”. When we make decisions, please let’s consider for lives of the people involved.

Parents, we don’t need to envy other people’s babies, just because they are light-skinned. Your own dark-skinned child is also beautiful. Your baby is beautiful no matter the colour of his or her skin. Life is so much more than the colour of your skin.

This post is not about team light skin vs team dark skin, but it is just addressing the trend of parents intentionally making their babies’ skins lighter, or in some of their words, “maintaining the colour”.
If you know any parent guilty of this, tell them to please, stop it... at least, for the sake of the innocent child!


  1. I am very shocked at this but it does make a lot of sense. I am chocolate brown, hubby is black. My kids were born very yellow and gain their natural color as they grow. My mom is very light my dad is black and every member of my husbands family is black. So now as my kids are getting darker, I hear this why are you letting them get dark? From people and I never thought much of it because, I mean, if I wanted half caste children I for marry oyinbo na. Wonders shall never cease.

  2. It's just sad that people have come to this. Toning or bleaching a baby's skin. It's sad.

    1. They are subtly saying light skin is superior to dark skin.

  3. Bleaching a baby's! I never knew about this

  4. A seemingly African problem.... colorism! I am from Kenya and fact it's considered light skin as a superior color. This is made worse by media promoting light skin persona, especially ladies in commercials. Go to high end clubs, its light skin girls used as dancers, waitresses etc! I wonder if this is a good thing or light skin is only sexualized? If so, it's a raw deal! I even see it in elementary schools where main characters for example playing queen, princess are chosen from the lighter skinned kids! Don't we see how we kill the esteem if darker skinned kids who grow up believing they ain't beautiful because they are dark skinned? I tell you this wrong orientation is deeply engrained in many african folk that they make rather unconscious comments like 'oh, you kid is so light skinned, beautiful! You'll never hear them say the same for a darker skinned kid.

    To be fair, we all have skin color preferences. What should not be happening is making obvious omissions or commissions in media and in our social lives to pit one skin colour over the other. Worse when it comes off adults conversations infront of kids. They hear us and follow suit!

    Oh Africans, why do we hate on ourselves? I read somewhere that it's only Africans who think light and dark skin is different races. Funny and not funny at all! How ignorant!

    I can't, am tired of this narrative.

    It goes on and on.... preference of boy child over girl child. I won't even start with this.

  5. Not so shocked about this because I've heard this subtle preference for light skin even from educated persons! I wonder what is wrong with us Africans! And we complain about whites racially profiling us! Double standards! Two situations close to me:

    My daughter is dark skinned. Her father is darker and I am lighter. I had to put a stop to her dad teasing her about her dark skin especially once she's been out in the sun swimming... once he realised he was affecting his daughter's esteem he said he didn't mean to tease her dark skin in a bad way, it's just conditioning, orientation of black folk towards favouring lighter skin. Then he says don't worry about it, she'll be lighter as she grows up as she went be spending more time outdoors! I really don't care if she grows peach dark as she grows older! What has her skin colour got to do with it? Tell me, does she lose opportunities because she's dark skinned? Enlighten me..... he apologised over this and didn't tease our daughter again. Though its engrained in him and he'd still describe one as beautiful because they are light skin.... mscheeeeewwww!

    A colleague of mine at work made me laugh so hard when she mentioned that her sisters kid who is half white and black is so light skinned he passes of as a white kid. Okay, I'd give it to her because I used to think Mariah Carey was white! What made me astounded is her justifying that the parents must endure the kid goes to an international school that has a sizable number of white kids... they are damn expensive in Kenya. And also for the reason that if this kid went to a normal school they'll be bullied coz they are white.... light skin. I went agape! Maybe, I don't know....

    Then someone please tell me, what is the benefit of a girl being light skinned? Because men prefer them lighter? Something is wrong here already! What else? Educate me.


What's your opinion on this? Let's learn from one another.