A COORDINATED survey carried out by eight local authority trading standards services has revealed that 85 per cent of skin lightening creams are non-compliant with current Cosmetic Product Regulations.
A total of 40 skin lightening creams were analysed and 25 per cent of those were found to contain either the banned substance Hydroquinone – which can damage the skin – or Mercury Salts, which can cause damage to internal organs.
Following the shocking results, Coventry Trading Standards organised the seizure of the remaining stock – ensuring no more offending products were sold from the retail outlets.
As the importers of the cosmetics were based outside of Coventry, details were passed to the Trading Standards Services where the importers were based.
Importers of cosmetics should be able to produce a technical file to show that the products have been tested and found to be safe – failing to comply with the regulations can result in a £20,000 fine and 12 months imprisonment.
Coun David Galliers, chair of the licensing and regulatory committee said: “I find the sheer magnitude of these failures to be very concerning and it shows consumers are at greater risk than they should be from these products.
“The level of failure is more than that found in previous surveys and reinforces the need for continued surveillance and enforcement action when required.
“The offending products are typically available online and in small retail outlets where managerial control and awareness of the law is, unfortunately, not always as good as you would hope.”
Allan Harwood, Coventry Trading Standards business compliance manager said: “Skin lightening products are used for lightening areas of heavy pigmentation such as moles, birth marks and age spots.
“Hydroquinone is a hazardous substance and suspected of causing cancer.
“Consequently, the use of Hydroquinone in over-the-counter skin lightening cosmetic products is banned in the European Union.”
Consumers are advised to check the ingredients list of their skin lightening products and not use them if hydroquinone is listed as an ingredient.
Anyone concerned about cosmetics they receive should report the matter to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.