Don’t Buy a Skin Lightening Cream With Mercury

During moments of insecurity (we all have them, seriously, every one of us), it can seem all too tempting to invest in a skin lightening cream that promises to fix everything we don’t like about ourselves. It just seems so easy, simply apply once a day and every splotch and faded spot magically goes away. Sadly, if it seems too good to be true, it most likely is. Yes, there are a number of high quality, effective skin brightening solutions out there, but according to a recent scandal with the FDA, skin creams are not without their own share of controversies.

Mercury, and We Don’t Mean Freddie
A year ago, a number of brands of skin lightening cream were placed under a ban by the Food and Drug Administration, because of an unhealthy amount of mercury being detected. 50 different brands of skin lightening cream were placed under a recall after the detected mercury had gone past the passable limit. The findings made sale and importation no longer safe, and thus no longer legal. Despite these new restrictions, the banned cream began to appear and be sold in local flea markets around Baclaran in the Philippines. The EcoWaste Coalition noticed the illegal selling. After buying a round of test purchases of the banned skin creams (along with four other skin lightening cream products that appeared to be dubious), the environment group sent an email warning to see if the FDA ban was being enforced.

Surprise from Environment Groups and the FDA
Shock and disappointment have rippled through the government and subsidiary agencies as a result of these new findings. The EcoWaste Coalition extensively tested the creams they had purchased from the flea market, and found that all ten of the products contained high enough levels of mercury to make them dangerous. Miss Beauty Magic Cream was the worst offender, containing nearly 12,700 ppm of mercury, far more than is passable.
Aileen Lucero, in charge of campaigning safe cosmetics on behalf of the EcoWaste Coalition, released a statement to the media detailing her supreme disappointment with this latest happening.

“We call on our food and drug regulators, together with the city governments of Parañaque and Pasay, to flex some muscle, confiscate the contraband goods and file charges against erring stores and their proprietors. These deceivingly unhealthy products bragged about their herbal or natural extracts such as garlic, gingko biloba and ginseng but none listed mercury as an ingredient.”

Besides the obvious mistake of having too much mercury as an ingredient to begin with, these creams committed another grievous error in not having an honest listing of ingredients to begin with. While this is a lesser infraction than containing a potentially poisonous substance in a product, it is an unacceptable shortcoming nonetheless.

The Food and Drug Administration’s core purpose is to further healthy living and consumption among all people, and the most effective way to do that is through transparency of information. It is ironic that a skin lightening cream meant to clear up the complexion would be a prime violator in not being clear.

The Offending Creams
Curious about which skin lightening cream products were found in the Philippines to contain too much mercury? According to the studies done by the EcoWaste Coalition, the skin products that contained dubious information on their label is as follows:
Panive Seven Day Whitening Speckle Removing Series failed to provide information related to the manufacturer of their product, or its distributor. Meanwhile, Qian Mei contained a product label that was written in three languages: Russian, Chinese, and Thai. TVC Spot Removal originated in Mexico, but its label stated it was created in the PRC, also commonly known as the People’s Republic of China. Lastly, Pearl Natural Pure Plants Whitening Cream was supposedly created in New York City, as was Spring Return Ginseng. If this is true, someone in America is flagrantly breaking the law.
The products that the EcoWaste Coalition found, which were previously banned by the Food and Drug Administration, are also as follows: Jiaoli 7-Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream, Miss Beauty Magic Cream, and Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream and S’Zitang. All of these products were found to contain excessively high amounts of mercury, and yet were still up for resale. These are ten creams too many to be on sale.

The Effect of Too Much Mercury

Mercury poisoning is a condition that has long plagued society. The World Health Organization has found that the use of products tainted with the element can cause damage to the kidneys, as well as a number of other complications. Common signs of poisoning include an itching or burning sensation known as paresthesia. Discoloration and swelling of the skin is also a frequently reported symptom.

Through inhibiting enzymes that are dependent on selenium, mercury inactivates enzymes that are necessary for other vital productions in the human body.Besides affecting the skin (which obviously makes it inconvenient in a skin brightening cream), mercury poisoning can also spur on profuse sweating, a faster than normal heart rate, high blood pressure, and an increase in saliva production. That any retailer was discovered to be selling mercury contaminated creams, particularly after these creams had been recalled by the FDA, is particularly shocking.

The recent incident in the Philippines comes as a reminder that frequent surveillance is needed in order to make sure all retailers are meeting up to the Food and Drug Administration’s standards, whether selling skin lightening cream or something else. Watch dog companies like the EcoWaste Coalition need to continue investigative efforts whenever applicable, to keep dubious retailers at flea markets or other venues from inadvertently selling flawed or poisonous merchandise. By maintaining the integrity of these guidelines, consumers may continue to be protected and regulations may continue to be kept relevant and enforced. The public does not deserve to be unwittingly poisoned by mercury, or anything else. Through upholding these regulations, theirs and their family’s safety will continue to be protected.

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