Like many teenagers, when Françoise Mbabazi was a young girl growing in Uganda, she suffered from acne. At 14 years old, Mbabazi’s sister took her to see a dermatologist and she was given a cream called Pimplex. She would put the smooth, white cream on her acne, and pretty soon, she noticed it lightened her skin slightly.
This was Mbabazi’s first exposure to the world of skin bleaching. She soon realized that this practice was incredibly common among young girls in her hometown, who would carry around little tubes of creams like Pimplex to rub on their faces. People would also buy concoctions mixed by local women to lighten their skin, many of which contained bleaching products, Mbabazi said.