Horror Cosmetics: Scary Ingredient in 12 Skin Whitening Products Bared

Consumers beware: a chemical lurking in some cosmetics that promise fair and pretty skin may instead give you a terrifying look and send shivers up your spines.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the chilling warning after purchasing 12 skin whitening creams in Divisoria, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila and Cubao, Quezon City that later tested positive for mercury up to 45,100 parts per million, way above the 1 ppm regulatory limit for mercury under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.

“These mercury-laden products are truly scary in the real sense of the word,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Instead of the promised lighter and flawless skin, these products may in fact discolor and scar the skin, cause rashes and weaken dermal resistance to bacterial and fungal infections,” she said.

“Not only does it damage the skin, mercury harms the kidneys and the nervous system as well, obstructing healthy brain development in fetuses and children,” she added.

“The mercury ingredient in such products is a spooky secret that consumers, especially women, should be wary about when buying skin whitening cosmetics.  You don’t want to pay to get poisoned,” she emphasized.

The symptoms of inorganic mercury poisoning, a
ccording to the US Environmental Protection Agency, include skin rashes and dermatitis, mood swings, memory loss, mental disturbances, and muscle weakness.

To alert consumers about mercury-containing cosmetics and the risks associated with mercury exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition carried out the test buys and analyzed the products using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer.

“We conducted the test buys ahead of the Halloween to call attention to the frightening effects of mercury exposure through cosmetics, which are real and not just a figment of imagination,” Lucero said.

The skin whitening products, purchased from Chinese drug stores for P50 to P180 per item, and their mercury content are as follows:
1.  Yudantang Sheep Essence & Ginseng & Green Cucumber 10 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot & Double Whitening Sun Block Cream with 45,100 ppm
2.  Beauty Girl Egg White & Tomato 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream with 41,700 ppm

3.  Erna Whitening Cream with 9,853 ppm
4.  Bai Li Tou Hong with 4,689 ppm
5.  Youngrace Age Defying Essence with 4, 087 ppm
6.  S’Zitang with 4,019 ppm
7.  Jiaoli 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set with 3,870 ppm

8.  Beauty Gemli Freckles Cream with 3,271ppm
9.  Jiaoli 10 Days Eliminating Frecke Day & Night Set with 2,549 ppm
10.  S’Zitang 7 Days Specific Whitening & Spot AB Set with 2,507 ppm
11.  Jiaoli Huichunsu Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream with 1,597 ppm

12.  Sanli Eliminating FreckleCream with 1,305 ppm

Erna, Gemli , Sanli and Jiaoli Huichunsu Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream were among the 11 mercury-loaded skin whitening creams reported by the EcoWaste Coalition to the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) on August 18,  2013 and recommended for banning.

Jiaoli 7 Days, Jiaoli 10 Days, S’zitang and Youngrace were banned in 2010, Beauty Girl in 2011, Bai Li Tou Hong in 2012 and Yudantang in 2013.

None of these imported products are listed in the FDA’s list of notified cosmetics and may be deemed  illegal imports.

To avoid mercury exposure from such cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded consumers to scrutinize the product labels, reject products with incomplete and incomprehensible information, seek registered mercury-free products and ask for official receipts, which could come handy if you need to file a complaint.

Even better, be happy, grateful, proud and secure of our skin tone, the EcoWaste Coalition said, stressing that “brown is beautiful.”