Grace Amey-Obeng was never one to desire the “Coca-Cola Body and Fanta Face,” referring to African women who use bleaching creams on their faces, leaving their bodies dark with their natural color.From her earliest days, Amey-Obeng, founder and CEO of the FC Group of companies (makers of beauty products) and the Grace Amey-Obeng Foundation in Accra, Ghana, has been a crusader against the dangers—physical as well as psychological and social—of skin whitening. Today, her efforts are paying off, both in Ghana as well as elsewhere in Africa, and her Forever Clair line of cosmetics and skincare products, designed to combat the menace of skin lightening and emphasize instead holistic skin health and well-being, are a huge hit across the continent.“The message we want to convey is that we need to preserve our natural skin,” Amey-Obeng says. “We are also educating people to understand that if you continue to use the wrong products, if you don’t protect your skin, this can lead to a vicious cycle, a continual cycle of destruction. What we need more than anything is education and creating awareness.”Although there are educational efforts happening across Africa, most of these are centered in urban areas. The bigger problems with respect to skin whitening are in the rural areas, Amey-Obeng says, which is why she organizes groups to make yearly trips to villages to educate people there on the harmful effects of skin bleaching.“I have been doing this for past 30 years or so, and yes, I can say that in my country, bleaching has gone down tremendously,” she says. “People are finding a more refined way of looking after their skin—they understand that ‘I need to be black and beautiful’ and enhance their natural color, but also they want to make it look youthful and look radiant. That has helped a lot and a lot more people are getting educated and that has changed.”Across Africa today, there’s a move toward making skincare products using natural ingredients, in the hopes that these will eventually replace more dangerous chemicals. The Forever Clair line incorporates vitamin C, shea butter, cocoa oil and licorice, among others, says Amey-Obeng, whose clout has given her a voice at her country’s legislative level to ban the use of hydroquinone, corticosteroids and mercury in cosmetics in Ghana.“Our focus is that whatever you put on your skin should be edible,” she says.Today, Ghana is at the forefront of a movement to change mindsets and practices in Africa, and Ghanians are thrilled by the success that Lupita Nyong’o has achieved internationally.“Lupita resonates well with what they are hearing locally and trying to achieve and people are citing Lupita as an example not to bleach,” Amey-Obeng says.Read more about how Lupita Nyong’o is inspring women to embrace their dark skin here.