Ivory Coast has banned skin-whitening creams because of health concerns, the health ministry says.
It says “cosmetic lightening and hygiene creams… that de-pigment the skin… are now forbidden”.
Whitening creams have been popular for years among young women – and some men – across Africa, who believe they make them more beautiful.
But medical experts say they may cause cancer, diabetes, severe skin conditions and other diseases.
“The number of people with side-effects caused by these medicines is really high,” Christian Doudouko, a member of Ivory Coast’s pharmaceutical authority, was quoted as saying.
However, analysts say the ban may not stop people buying the products.
South Africa has the world’s toughest laws against skin lighteners, having prohibited the most active ingredient – hydroquinone, but a University of Cape Town study found that more than a third of South African women still buy them.
The use of whitening creams in Africa is most widespread in Nigeria – where more than 75% of women buy them, according to a 2008 UN Environment Programme study.