Consumers have been warned that some skin-lightening creams can be as toxic as “paint strippers” and should be “avoided at all costs.”
According to the Local Government Association, an organisation comprising of local authorities in England and Wales, skin-lightening creams which contain banned ingredients can pose a serious threat to consumers’ health and increase the “risk of cancer, liver and kidney damage”.
The warning comes in the wake of recent seizures by trading standards officers.
The organisation said that “rogue retailers” who sell the illegal skin-lightening lotions frequently label the ingredients on the products incorrectly.
Some of these creams, LGA stated, contain unspecified amounts of hydroquinone, “the biological equivalent of paint stripper” that can remove the top layer of the skin, increase the risk of skin cancer, and cause fatal liver and kidney damage.
“Skin creams containing banned ingredients are very dangerous and could seriously damage your health, scar you for life and even kill you, so they should be avoided at all costs,” Simon Blackburn, chairman of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said.
“Consumers should always check the ingredients of their skin creams, be suspicious of very low prices which are likely to indicate the lotion is fake and potentially harmful, and never use a product containing hydroquinone. If the product doesn’t display the ingredients at all, then don’t use it.
“Councils have been targeting rogue retailers selling these banned creams and people should report any concerns so that town halls can take action to prevent anyone from buying these lotions, potentially ruining their looks forever.”
Lisa Bickerstaffe, a spokeswoman for the British Skin Foundation, urged consumers of these products desist from them and consult dermatologist for advise if they have concerns about their skin tone.
“It’s difficult to know whether the problem is increasing due to the illicit way the products are sold under the counter and online. Ingredients in these cosmetics can cause serious health problems and the British Skin Foundation strongly advises against using them,” she said.
It is believed that skin-lightening products are typically targeted at consumers who are black or from ethnic minorities to lighten hyperpigmentation and treat acne scarring.
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