‘To say that I was not happy would be a lie’
As a teenager, Mkhize had severe acne. She thought she would outgrow the condition, but never did.
The acne often broke out and then disappeared, even when she was an adult. Sadly, the flare-ups left her with dark spots, a reminder of this persistent dermatological condition.
Two years ago, Mkhize (33) was advised by an acquaintance to use Movate, a skin-lightening cream containing mercury and steroids, to treat the acne. She did, and the results were amazing – at least for a while.
“The acne cleared, the marks faded and my skin started looking beautiful. To say that I was not happy would be a lie,” she says.
But Mkhize’s happiness was shortlived. The acne came back with a vengeance a few months later, and it was worse than before.
Mkhize, a mother of one and a qualified electrician, became even more conscious about how she looked and her plunge in confidence prompted her to use heaps of makeup to cover her imperfections. But the make-up just seemed to make her situation worse.
People took pity on her and advised her to use over-the-counter products, which they claimed would put an end to her misery. She tried several, including Top Gel and Betasol cream.
At some point, she started using Elocon cream, a potent corticosteroid that can only be prescribed by a doctor. Mkhize was illegally buying this cream from a pharmacy in Durban that sold it to her without a prescription. The cream cleared the acne, but also brightened her complexion.
“My intention was not to make my complexion lighter, but to remove acne,” she says.
“I had suffered a lot and I would use anything that people suggested would help.”
A few months after using Elocon religiously, Mkhize suffered a severe acne breakout on her face and neck. The breakout is what dermatologists refer to as steroid-induced acne.
In September last year, Mkhize decided to seek medical treatment from a dermatologist, and she visited Dlova. Five months later, she is on the slow road to recovery, and her skin is clearer.
“I am more confident now and I no longer wear heavy make-up like I used to,” she says.
Mbali Mkhize is among the women who have damaged their skin by using bleaching creams