Bimbo Onafowokan, 27, has simply became a towel at a nook in a small store. Seated subsequent to her is Bello, the store proprietor, readying a combination from a bottle to use on her pores and skin. There’s a big mirror by the wall for Bimbo to look in sometimes and monitor how detailed Bello is in serving to her bleach her pores and skin with the concoction.

Besides the mirror, three rigorously organized plastic chairs, a towel rack and a shelf crammed with pores and skin bleaching concoctions of various sizes, Bello’s store is just about empty. It is tucked deep within the very coronary heart of Lagos State, Ikeja. ‘Under bridge’, because it’s generally known as is dwelling to self-proclaimed beauticians who work from the perimeters of the busy bridge. These ‘hustlers’ provide all kinds of beauty merchandise to women and men who readily troop into their makeshift shops to “look beautiful”.

“I have been doing this thing [skin bleaching] for three years now and my skin is fairer. It makes me feel like a beautiful woman. You know if you’re dark skinned the men don’t come to you” Bimbo mentioned in a voice tinged with pleasure. She defined that she makes use of a part of her revenue promoting bread on the streets to buy the pores and skin whitening combination from Bello. “I come here every two months to buy it from Bello. Since I started using it, the men on the streets come to me to buy bread because they find me more attractive than the other bread sellers” she informed me.

Use of lotions, mixtures and bodily therapies to whiten the pores and skin just isn’t an unusual apply in Nigeria. A 2011 World well being organisation report discovered that 77% of ladies within the Nigeria use pores and skin lightening merchandise, the most important share on the planet. The causes based on the report have been wide-ranging however most individuals say they bleach their pores and skin as a result of they need “white skin”. According to a 2017 essay by Metro UK, 70% of Nigerian ladies admit to utilizing merchandise that lighten their pores and skin. The essay identified that ladies aren’t the one ones obsessive about bleaching their skins, males get pleasure from having “white skin” as effectively.

David Oluwatobi, 32, who requested that his actual identify not be used, has a store seven minutes away from Bello’s. He offers in lip colouration, popularly tagged as ‘Pink lips’. The pink lips process is completed in 3 ways. The first is through the use of a machine or a blade to scrape off a part of the outer layer of the underside lip after which apply an ointment or balm that modifications the color of the lip to one thing near pink. “I have been doing pink lips for seven years now, everybody in this under bridge knows my face” David bragged.

Speaking on the second lip colouration course of, which can also be a type of Skin bleaching, David famous that many individuals favor it as a result of the method is painless. “People see the machine and get scared, they prefer buying the pink lip balm and using it. But the lip balm process takes longer to be effective, you have to use it many times before you get pink lips” he mentioned. “But you see that machine, once I remove part of the outer lip and add my mixture, the lip swells for two days and by the time it comes down, everything is pink and fine” he mentioned.

The third lip colouration methodology entails tattooing the color pink completely on the decrease lip. When requested concerning the variety of those who patronize him, David commented that many individuals most well-liked to return to his store. “In a week I make like twenty-five thousand naira. Many people come here because they know that I give them different options. Any method of getting pink lips, they choose from” he defined to me.

In search of individuals eager about enlarging their penis, Mutiu Olalere, 25, hovers outdoors David’s makeshift retailer generally. Mutiu, who has been dealing in penis enlargement for 3 years, led me to his retailer on the different facet of the bridge the place the buses going to the Island are parked. “This business is not for everybody, only those that know me well can spot this place,” he mentioned. The enlargement course of entails a technique of stretching the penis with a machine formed like a pump. “I have a small generator because my machine will not work without electricity. There is a way it draws blood to the penis and makes it swell” he defined.

Part of what drives males to go to folks like Mutiu for this methodology of physique enhancement is the assumption that males with bigger penises carry out higher in mattress. “African women like it to be big, if your penis is small you will not perform well in bed. Many men like want to satisfy their women so they come to me for help” he mentioned. “Just last week, someone came here to give me positive feedback. It works well,” he added.

In many elements of the nation, physique enhancement choices provided by the beauty business are well-liked. Lighter skinned ladies, as an example, are thought-about extra beautiful and are believed to seek out marriage simpler than darkish skinned ladies. For lip colouration, many males partake in it as a result of they consider it makes them extra enticing to their companions. Penis enlargement, alternatively, follows a notion that a big penis means higher intercourse. “I have had women commend me in bed since I got my penis enlarged” Joseph, one in every of Mutiu’s clients’ informed me.


The physique enchancment course of with all its buzz comes with hazardous well being penalties. Penis enlargement, for instance, can result in pores and skin peeling, excessive soreness and ache on the genital organ. Abbas Amza, a pharmacist in Nigeria’s public well being sector says the mechanical system used for enlargement might end in deformation of the penis and harm to the penile blood vessels.

For pores and skin bleaching, the appliance of the whitening brokers invitations pores and skin infections like scabies, eczema, and pimples. Samira Owoyale, a medical practitioner, says skin-bleaching brokers can harm the liver and kidney as they include elements like Glutathione. “These bleaching creams despite their acceptance are threatening. They lessen the pigment growth of the skin. Normally, the pigments absorb ultraviolet radiation of UV rays. Without the protection of these pigments, skin cancer can occur” she famous.

Lip colouration is simply as hazardous as pores and skin bleaching. The risks related to passing tools to a different buyer with out correct sterilization embrace the unfold of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, lip an infection and irritation. Abbas Amza, says the pink lips balm generally include unhealthy elements like Glucocorticoids, which scale back the immunity of the physique. “Those creams when used over an extended period of time can lead to depressed immunity for the entire body” he defined. “The mixture also reduces the strength of the skin membrane and makes it liable to tearing. In the event of surgery, for example, there will be difficulty in suturing the skin tissue back,” he added.

Despite the hazardous well being results round these beauty routines, they’re right here to remain. The business is rising and many individuals are shopping for into the thought of trying good by means of larger genitals and lighter pores and skin. “Do you know the opportunities that come with looking fairer? Nobody is going to drop that for anything” says Chinenye Onwusoro, a pores and skin bleaching store proprietor.