In a world where beauty often only goes skin deep and light skin is perceived by many as more desirable, dark-skinned women find it more and more difficult to love and be comfortable in their own skin.Skin bleaching or whitening has unfortunately become a common phenomenon in many countries. These products are used by women around the world in order to obtain blemish-free, lighter and brighter skin tones. Yet, many ignore the health warnings associated with using these often dangerous skin bleaching products.Nigeria tops the list of countries where women use these products most. According to the World Health Organisation, 77% of Nigerians use skin bleaching products on a daily basis – and this is not just confined to female users. Other countries where skin bleaching is popular includes Kenya, USA, Thailand and South Africa.In case you’re considering doing the same to your skin, perhaps you should know these 5 things first: 1. Skin bleaching is not trying to be “white”In many African countries light-skinned women are considered more beautiful and believed to be more successful and more likely to get married. This ignited backstreet skin whitening markets with vendors selling their own skin bleaching products and injections promising to remove melanin. Women who use these products aren't trying to be white, it's more about fitting in and feeling more accepted by their society.2. Certain types of skin bleaching can be safe when done with the right ingredients and supervisionAccording to Whitening Cream Reviews, there is nothing wrong with bleaching your skin if you do it the right way, follow the procedures and use the right products. They stress that you should make sure your skin is monitored regularly by a licensed skin professional or dermatologist and that one should always be on the lookout for any strange changes in your skin during this process like peeling and redness. 3. Hydroquinone is seriously not good for youIf you are in a process of bleaching your skin, avoid using creams that contain the ingredient Hydroquinone. According to Livestrong, it may cause scars on the skin, kidney, liver or nerve damage, abnormalities in a newborn baby if used during pregnancy, and might even have serious effects of pigmentation on the eye and cause corneal damage.4. Skin bleaching can have unpleasant side effectsSkin bleaching techniques could have serious side effects and complications like inflammation (swelling and redness), skin irritation, or burning and itchy skin. 5. There are other alternatives for a radiant, even complexionMany skin bleaching products contain ingredients that have been banned in most African countries due to the dangerous effects they have on one’s health. But, there are safe, natural home remedies that can be applied to the skin such as lemon, honey, Aloe Vera, oranges and yoghurt. For more home remedies visit Top 10 Home Remedies. I am a dark skinned girl and I have been teased a lot because of my brown skin. But I have ignored anyone trying to make me feel bad about my God-given skin. I mean, why would I want to change my skin colour because of other people’s definition of beauty?It would be dumb of me. God created me and liked what he made, so I should embrace that. I do not think that you just wake up one day and decide “I want to be a light skinned girl”. It is something you put a lot of thought into and if you do it because you are not happy with the skin that you’re in, to me that is a reflection of self-hatred and other self-esteem issues.With that being said, people have different reasons for bleaching their skin - some to cover up dark spots and some to even up their skin tone, so let's not judge until you have walked in someone else's shoes. Whatever your reason may be - if you have decided to bleach your skin, make sure you are ready and doing it for all the right reasons. But most importantly: contact a professional before you do so.Follow Women24 on Twitter and like us on Facebook.