London beauty retailers fined for selling unsafe skin bleaching products
15 beauty stores in London were fined a total of £168,579 by London Trading Standards for selling dangerous cosmetic products, the majority of which were for skin lightening.
Trading Standards officers seized thousands of products containing dangerous and banned levels of bleaching ingredients hydroquinone, mercury and corticosteroids. The watchdog also found multiple labelling breaches and had concerns over a lack of traceability of most of the products.
One of the products seized, called Grace Duo, was found to contain the highest level of hydroquinone ever found by trading standards at 18%. A soap called Faiza Beauty Cream had 0.54% of toxic mercury. Organ damage and cancer are two of the most serious health problems that can develop from prolonged exposure to these chemicals, while skin thinning and discolouration are more common short term.
Steve Playle, spokesperson for London Trading Standards, commented: “Last year saw some great outcomes as a result of our coordinated campaign against illegal cosmetics and some defendants even had suspended prison sentences imposed. These penalties should make shop owners tempted to ignore safety rules think twice before putting profit over the health and safety of their customers.
Residents have a right to expect that high street stores will only sell safe and reputable products. Consumers should always check the ingredients of their skin creams and never use a product containing hydroquinone. If the product doesn’t display the ingredients at all, then consumers are also advised not to use it.”
In October last year Professional Beauty reported on concerns raised in the British Medical Journal over UK salons offering skin lightening treatments via intravenous drip or injection. The treatments use antioxidant glutathione though there are no published clinical trails on its safety or efficacy, and as such no guidelines for safe dosing regimes. The BMJ highlighted potential adverse effects including hypertension, infections, renal disease and even type 1 diabetes, as well as the risk of transmission of infectious diseases from needles used in environments with no infection control in place.