One community advocate says skin bleaching is happens behind closed doors because of a person's feelings about their own skin.
"There is a lot of secrecy that comes with skin bleaching. There is a lot of shame and vulnerability when you are experiencing internal racism," says Kim Crosby, co-founder of the People Project, a movement of young individuals committed to individual and community empowerment globally.
The real problem is the fact people feel the need to alter their colour, she says. Crosby has worked in several cities hosting workshops and creating leadership programs for youth. At times, young people of colour would describe themselves as "bad" for having darker skin, and she says most of the time, the media's representation of people of colour doesn't help.
"Even when we see people of colour represented in media, they're usually darker versions of [some] European [descent]. This reflects the fact that we're not allowing for diversity," she says.
And the lightening ad campaigns do more than sell products, according to one writer.