'People really want to buy it': African pop star defends her controversial skin-lightening cream

Whitenicious is described as a '7 day fast acting dark spot remover'

A black African pop singer who launched a skin-lightening product has hit back at critics who disparaged her for promoting skin-bleaching.

In an interview with Ebony, Dencia defended the Whitenicious product, which is advertised as a “7 day fast acting dark spot remover”, and claimed that it was not intended to be used as an all-over whitening cream.

“The picture clearly says ‘Say goodbye to dark spots and hyperpigmentation’,” the Nigerian-Cameroonian singer said.

“I’m not saying ‘say goodbye to your black skin and try to be like Dencia’. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying ‘say goodbye to dark spots and hyperpigmentation’.”

But many have criticised her for sowing the seeds of self-hatred among women with darker skin, particularly African women.

They have also highlighted Dencia’s own drastically altered appearance since she started using Whitenicious. Pictures of her taken in 2011 show her with much darker skin than in the advertisement images.

“I was never that dark in real life,” she said.

“And guess what? I don’t even care because they’re bringing me business. Because when you take that picture and you put a picture of Dencia darker, this is what you’re telling people – the product really works.

"And guess what? People really want to buy it.  It’s what it is. I don’t really care.”

But Dencia emphasised that she is not extolling skin bleaching and said “dark skin is beautiful”.

“These girls are not trying to bleach their skin. They’re just trying to get rid of these little things that is making them feel uncomfortable, you know?” she added.

She also said that the majority of her customers are African-Americans, as opposed to Africans.

“Now, do you think Africans are lightening to appeal to the white man? No, they’re not because the white man doesn’t even like the light Africans. They like the black Africans,” she said.

“Look at all the Africans that are successful in the world. They are as black as Alek Wek. And if I was as black as Alek Wek, I would never ever use anything on my skin. Trust me I wouldn’t.”

However, Dencia did concede that Whitenicious can be used as an all-over skin-lightening product, but suggested few people would use it for this purpose, because it is too expensive.

“Whitenicous comes in 30 ml and 60ml. You cannot use the 60 ml to bleach your whole skin. It’s impossible. And that costs about $150 each,” she said.

“I don’t see anybody spending all that money to bleach their entire skin. I don’t see that happening.

“Now, do I have customers who come and buy stuff for over $2000? Yes, I do. Do I ask them what they want to do with it? No, I don’t.

“Do I know what they want to do with it? No, I don’t care because it’s their money, it’s how they want to spend it.”

Dencia went on to question the validity of medical research that links skin-bleaching products to cancer.

“Contrary to what people are saying ‘Oh, this is going to cause you cancer’. No, it wouldn’t. Whitening your skin will not cause you cancer,” she asserted. 

Check out these other controversial adverts

Skin-bleaching has been a controversial topic in recent years, with many high-profile celebrities being drawn into the debate.

Last month, Vanity Fair was accused of lightening Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o's skin when she appeared as the cover star of the February issue.

And in 2012, pop singer Beyoncé appeared significantly lighter-skinned in a L’Oreal Paris advertisement, while in 2011, Vogue issued a statement denying that they had altered the colour of Rihanna’s skin on the front cover of their November issue.

But for Dencia, the answer is simple.

“Whitenicious is what it is,” she said.

“Take people for who they are and accept people for being honest about who they are, what they do and all that.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there