Every few months, the topic of skin bleaching comes up on Nigerian Twitter. At this point, everyone and their grandmothers should know it has health risks. Yet, it’s still very popular, and while I’d normally chalk it up to people having coconut heads, I came across this tweet.
This may be a sarcastic response, but it points out a desire many have — the desire to glow, to have sunkissed skin, which many attribute to light skin (and may likely also be a reason for the bleaching problem). Is this what good skin means to Nigerians? What do different individuals classify as good skin? I asked seven people, and here’s what they had to say.
“My skin has to give ‘I woke up like this’.”
— Tola, 29
I’m dark-skinned, so I’ll say right away that good skin isn’t determined by the amount of melanin in your body. Good skin, to me, is smooth and looks good without needing make-up or filters.
Good skin means everything to me. I prioritise taking good care of my skin, even over food. I’d rather starve than not have my skincare products. All that matters to me is that my skin colour is perfectly maintained.
“Good skin is high maintenance”
— Oly, 22
I believe good skin should be healthy and without blemishes. I’m prone to dark spots on my face, so I always focus on maintaining an even complexion.
Some may say I’m deliberately using lightening products, but I’m naturally fair, and these products help me stay that way. It’s not cheap, but I guess that’s the price for great skin.
“Good skin is stress-free”
— Ana, 25
I’ve struggled with my skin since secondary school. I tried everything, even inadvertently lightening my skin, to get rid of acne marks and have an even complexion, but I’m still struggling at best.
I just want to be able to sleep without applying a 10-step skincare regime for the rest of my life just so I don’t have blotchy skin. I just want to be free.
“My skin looks best when there’s this natural glow to it”
— Dany, 23
I’m not a regular make-up person, which means I’m bare-faced most of the time. I’m also light-skinned, and I feel my skin looks best when there’s this natural glow to it.
Of course, the colour of my skin also means I must regularly maintain and protect it from Naija’s sun so I don’t get tanned.
“I feel more confident when my skin is at its clearest”
— Ore, 20
Looking good is good business. I’m not sure how good you’d look with bad skin. I feel more confident when my skin is at its clearest and when I don’t have to rely on Instagram filters when I don’t use make-up.
“Good skin is one colour”
— Favy, 19
Good skin, to me, is simply when you have an even complexion. Not that your face is whiter than a Caucasian’s, and your hand is the colour of Lipton tea. If you’re fair, be fair all over. If you’re dark, be dark all over. That’s all.
Since I discovered skincare, I’ve made sure to totally avoid anything that’ll change the colour of my skin because I figure it can only go downhill from there. I just keep my skin clean and moisturised.
“Good skin is healthy skin”
— Manny, 24
Healthy skin will always look good to me. And that means skin that’s not dry, cracked or peeling.
My skin used to be unhealthy because, as a guy, I didn’t think I had any business with skincare. Let’s just say my skin taught me a lesson. Now, I make sure to stay hydrated and always use sunscreen.