Is There Mercury In Your Skin Lightening Cream?
UPDATE AUGUST 2016: New information about mercury in skin lightening creams is offered below (in italics) before the original article.
A recent study in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology has revealed how common it is for mercury and other dangerous substances to be found in skin lightening products originating from countries around the world. One of the critical findings in the study was that of the skin lightening products found to contain mercury, none of them listed the toxin on the ingredient label. Therefore, even if a skin lightening product has an ingredient panel, it does not mean the manufacturer has revealed the presence of mercury.
In the study, investigators evaluated 29 products, and 22 of them contained illegal or banned ingredients, including mercury (12 products), steroids (13), and hydroquinone (11). The 22 products came from Italy (6), India (5), Democratic Republic of Congo (5), Cote d’Ivoire (2), USA (2), UK (1), and France (1). Two products contained all of the offensive ingredients.
One of the limitations of this study was that it did not include all internationally available skin lightening products. However, the findings serve as a warning that mercury and other dangerous substances are commonly found in these cosmetics and that the labels often do not reveal that information.
Many readers have posted questions here asking whether the skin lightening cream they are using contains mercury. Unfortunately, the lack of reliable information on these products has made it impossible for me to answer the questions with any certainty in most cases. Given that mercury is highly toxic, it’s better to stop using any product not verified to be mercury-free rather than risk your health. As an alternative, you can use natural means to lighten the skin, such as lemons, orange, yogurt, honey, gram flour, turmeric, and aloe vera gel.
Original Article: Scientists have found a new, faster way to detect mercury in skin lightening creams. Do you use such creams and could they be contaminated?
Some skin lightening creams have a highly undesirable ingredient that can prove hazardous to your health. To better protect consumers, a team of scientists has reported that they can now identify which creams contain dangerous levels of mercury much more quickly than they could in the past.
Both women and men seek skin lightening creams, which are popular among certain cultures and areas of the world, including Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. However, a combination of availability of skin lightening creams via the Internet, in ethnic stores, and from family and friends who travel and bring them to the US and other countries has broadened the risk to more and more people.
At the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, Gordon Vrdoljak, PhD, of the California Department of Public Health, announced he had found a faster, more efficient way to identify mercury in these skin creams. The method is called total reflection x-ray fluorescence, and instead of it taking days to process one sample, he and his team can now complete 20 to 30 samples in one day.
The main reason such a discovery is important is that skin lightening creams and other cosmetic products are not well regulated or tested. Therefore, consumers are at risk of exposure to dangerous ingredients like mercury in skin lightening creams. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has very little oversight over cosmetic safety, although it can ban highly toxic materials such as mercury, which it has done.