Why Hair creme and Bleaching cream are the same

The person most likely to be offended by this post is one whose hair style represents a ‘relaxed’ (apparently it was ‘uptight’ about something) version of their natural mane. But I guarantee you this is not the purpose of the post. The last thing on my mind is to tell you what to do with your assets so #KeepCalm. All I want you to do is stop pointing fingers…deal?

Last night, a popular Jamaican television program shed some ‘light’ on the skin lightening phenomenon in Jamaica. Amidst criticism from my tweeps  on how self-depricating it is to attempt to change the complexion of your skin I drew their attention to the similarities between ‘creme hair’ and ‘cream skin’. Needless to say, I drew blood as well.

Is the skin cream worse than the hair creme?

Similar to the medicine prescribed by the doctor with a raft of other potentially devastating side effects, so too is each creme/cream carrying its own baggage. Take a look and decide which risk you’re more willing to take based on that annoying thing that keeps punching holes in arguments….uhhm…I think it’s called empirical evidence -_-



See page 14 – http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dockets/78n0065/78n-0065-rpt0002-vol1.pdf


It’s not my place to say which is worse because at the end of the day we must all choose our poison. I simply want you to be aware of the evidence before you go sprouting nonsense to anyone who will listen.

The Shared Roots

So since they’re both carrying dangerous, unhealthy side effects I guess we have one similarity in the bag! But wait…there’s more. 😀

When you ask a ‘bleachaz” as we call them in Jamaica, why they’ve decided to bleach their skin the responses are clear and simple – they prefer to be ‘brown’; it’s more convenient socially and professionally; it looks better; they get more attention/compliments.

half way

When you ask somoene why their hair is processed what do you think their responses are? They reflect the same themes of convenience, preference and aesthetics. *gasp!*


So what makes the lightened skin inferior to the relaxed hair? What empowers the ‘creme hair girl’ to lash out at the ‘bleachaz’ for applying the same principles to her personal asset – her skin? The answer… HYPOCRISY!


All this talk about loving the skin God gave you and being proud of your ‘blackness’ and embracing your roots doesn’t seem to apply to our (hair) roots as black women. Why try to ostracize and point fingers, lambast and ridicule when the same reason you’re straightening your hair (chu becaw it did lean when yuh bahn?) is the same reason they’re trying to be brown?

Both groups are convinced that they have the right to alter their assets to achieve greater convenience (in whatever realm), to suit their personal preferences and to look beautiful. I have never known someone to change their appearance with the aim of looking less attractive so evidently whatever an individual does to enhance their beauty is their business! It’s about what they think when they look in the mirror.

Since we care so much about how badly damaged someone else’s skin is why don’t we all start distributing sunscreen at stoplights because the collective damage of this special Jamaican sun is far greater than the number of people who are voluntarily damaging theirs.


We won’t because we don’t really care about “di gyal skin”. Our true intention is to criticize so we can exercise some ill-perceived superiority when little do we realize that we’re both sailing in different boats that are headed to the same dockyard. The only difference is one sailor is docking to pick up their shipment of Nadinola and the other to pick up that “Dark and Lovely”.

What do you think? Do people bleach and creme for the same reasons? Tweet with me @kryticamind and take this quick poll!

Please feel free to drop you comments below and I welcome differing perspectives! 🙂  



25 thoughts on “Why Hair creme and Bleaching cream are the same

  1. There are person who perm their hair to make it easier to manage…perm being a more long term and convenient method as opposed to the hot comb or the flat iron. I don’t think i have ever heard person bleaching for purposes of manageability.

    • Anyone who has issues with “managing” her hair is likely someone who don’t know how. I have 4c hair which is the kinkiest on the spectrum. Once I learned about my hair, as an adult, I realised that almost everything my aunt and mum did to “manage” my hair as a child was wrong — from washing, to combing, to products used.

      This idea hat we have to regularly undergo painful procedures to make parts of our life “manageable” is harmful to our psyche. These are not medical procedures to improve our health, but cosmetic procedures focused on erasing distinct racial characteristics. It is not a coincidence.

      • “Anyone who has issues with “managing” her hair is likely someone who don’t know how”
        Actually, it’s possible to understand how to manage one’s hair in the natural state, but not have the time to do so. As a full time medical student, I’d rather not spend my precious time detangling my natural 4c hair. A relaxer makes my hair much easier and faster to manage. Time is of the essence to me, and I think there are more important things to spend my time doing. Time consuming hairstyles which only last a few days, detangling my hair, fighting with single strand knots, and long wash days are certainly not at the top of my list of priorities.

  2. Until more research is done in this area we cant dispel anything with confidence. My hypothesis remains a hypothesis until someone spends years looking into this. PhD thesis anyone?

  3. I think what puzzles me after reading this blog is the mindset behind makeup….. is it “fashion over style” as in the case of bleaching or is it not being comfortable in one’s skin – creating another face for yourself that is not permanent. Why do people really wear makeup??? Does low self esteem form the basis for wearing makeup???

    • I treat with the issue of make-up in much the same way. Make-up has gone from a little powder on the cheeks to false eyelashes, pink lips, surgically added moles to resemble Cindy Crawford, unnatural pink blush on black cheekbones…the list goes on. However, it is still a matter of personal choice and no one is less guilty of attempting to ‘enhance’ their beauty simply because they look less manufactured than another. In the end, everyone leaves their house thinking they look fabulous! I may not agree with their choice but I won’t ridicule or chastise them for it.

      • to me people who wear make up are uncomfortable with themselves. Just like bleaching you show your discomfort with your original state by putting on make up. As it relates to hair I have used the excuse that relaxing my hair is better because I cant manage it. Trust me it takes more out of you to manage relaxed hair than your natural God given hair. I like the article because it is honest and unbiased. If the truth cost offence it doesn’t change the fact that it is the truth.

      • I completely agree with Trudz Green. I had always said that I relaxed my hair because it was easier to manage and deal with. At the end of the day all it did was burn my scalp and take 10 times the effort and money to deal with. So here I am, I chopped my hair off and i’m going back natural.

        The question again is why we feel the need to “manage” our natural hair?

      • Very good question. And by manage we never don’t work with what we have and make it fashionable. Inevitably it means processing it because natural is NOT manageable. 😒

  4. there is a PSA on jamaican tv of a young woman with straightened hair who says’ no bleaching for me’…???

  5. luv dis soooo damnnn true, they act as if a Jamaican one bleach take a look at beyonce then and now plus many others

  6. Makeup, bleaching and hair straightening often have parallels but there is no one rule that governs everyone’s actions. While many still uphold anti-natural ideals, this is largely due to socialization in all socio-economic stratas of Jamaican society.

    If we examine bleaching and hair straightening, won’t we need to examine leg hair removal and eyebrow waxing as well? Where do we draw the line between grooming and self-acceptance? Who decides how natural we should be?

    I love and blog about natural hair but I do not have any guilt when switching up my hairstyle and hair colour at any time. How I present my body and mind is my choice and I think I present it quite well whether natural or straight-haired.

    • Thanks Deidre. There is indeed a blurred line between grooming and self acceptance and that is for the individual to clarify. There are things I consider grooming that a Muslim or Rastafari woul challenge as evidence of self-hate or at least discomfort in my own skin. But again, it’s really up to me to draw that line…not the onlooker.

  7. in exercising our right to do whatever we want with/ to our own bodies surely we need to consider the effects on our health though…some of these bleaching concoctions are obviously dangerous…i remember reading years ago that young black girls in the us were reaching puberty prematurely because of all the hormones they were absorbing from the hair relaxers…i also found that psa with that girl saying she wouldn’t bleach because she was proud of her black skin – while touching up her (particularly ugly) creme hairstyle – to be hilarious and sad…still wi all haffi jus love one anadda regardless a dem ting ya !! peace

  8. Couldn’t the same be said for those who bleach/color their hair? which both natural & permed hair women do? But either way, I think there is a significant difference between someone relaxing their hair 5-10mins every few months & someone rubbing a mixture of perm/bleach/peroxide etc. all over their body then warping it with saran wrap, wearing several layers of clothes EVERYDAY. I don’t think I know anyone that perms their hair everyday.

  9. i say different fruits from the same tree one more poisonous than the other. Put more academically, most of us in post colonial society have been jaded and dont even realise. skin bleaching and the attendant “explanations” are perhaps simply the most grotesque manifestation of Baccra’s still living legacy

  10. Relaxing the hair is not as demanding on one’s health and finances as is skin bleaching. All of the aforementioned self alterations indubitably speak of one’s dissatisfaction/ discomfort with their physical attributes. However, when one goes to the extent of compulsively purchasing products which are clearly detrimental not only to their health but their physical appearance and social standing – as ironically, bleaching whilst not confined to the lower class is a symbol of such. Then that can only be classified as self hatred, an aversion to their own antecedents and their social standing. I relax my hair as it is more manageable and in my own mind, more attractive that way. However, if that process involved those extreme methods as expressed by the interviewees on that popular TV show then one would only be left to conclude that I have such an extreme abhorrence to the state of my hair that I would opt to go through the discomforts of having it that way. Bleaching for me can in no way be likened to the processing of the hair, wearing makeup et al as these are relatively quick inexpensive ways of enhancing one’s personal beauty and physical appearance. The bottom line is, humans have innate aesthetic sensibilities which allows them to always seek to enhance beauty whether through their personal beauty, their homes, cars etc. Skin bleaching to me is more likened to plastic surgery for non-medical purposes: the extremity of it, the expenses involved, the overarching health risks, the discomforts -which far outweigh any other self enhancing techniques, the stereotype and just the distasteful image it creates which repulses any prospective employer. With skin bleaching, the risks far outweigh the benefits and that’s why it’s a bigger issue than any other self enhancing technique.

  11. I think that everything must be done in proportion and the reasons for doing things draws the line between grooming and self acceptance. Many people will straighten their hair because its easier to handle while some persons will just do it to get the “glam” look that they see on tv. As for makeup, the mindset of using a little face powder is applied to the face to keep it cool is totally different from changing the structure and complexion of one’s face.

  12. Additionally, I don’t think it’s something that we should “shut up” about. It’s something that-though minor in the wider context- should occupy some level of national discourse. When you have mothers “bleaching” six month old babies, that represents a deep seated inferiority complex -which can be transferred to other areas of their lives- and some psychological issues that these persons may be having. They should not be allowed to set the moral arbiter for the society and it’s not something that should be glorified or condoned. The interviewees (some) went as far as to express their regret. So then why is it something that we should “shut up” about. They should not be chastised for their personal decisions but the less it’s condoned, the less attractive an option it will be.

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