Despite the ban, dangerous mercury-laced skin lighteners continue to be traded online.

EcoWaste Coalition Blasts “Out of Control” Online Sale of Skin Lighteners with Mercury that can Harm the Kidneys (Watchdog group pushes e-commerce sites to go mercury-free)

EcoWaste Coalition's staff urge the public to embrace their own skin color and avoid mercury exposure through adulterated skin whiteners.
EcoWaste Coalition’s staff urge the public to embrace their own skin color and avoid mercury exposure through adulterated skin whiteners.

6 June 2024, Quezon City. The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition has deplored the “out of control” sale of skin lightening products with mercury content amid the observance of the National Kidney Month this June, and the 6.6 online shopping mid-year sales today.

Aside from causing allergic contact dermatitis and affecting the nervous system, repeated exposures to the inorganic mercury salts in some skin lighteners can lead to nephrotic syndrome, a condition marked by high levels of protein in the urine.

As stated by the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), “the kidneys are also sensitive to the effects of mercury, because mercury accumulates in the kidneys and causes higher exposures to these tissues, and thus more damage.”

Based on the monitoring the group conducted yesterday, the sale of skin lighteners that have been identified as contaminated with mercury goes uninterrupted in the online shopping platforms of Lazada and Shopee in spite of their policies against prohibited and restricted products.

According to Shopee, “all FDA warned products are strictly prohibited on the Shopee Platform.”  For Lazada, “any relevant products unregistered with the FDA are prohibited from being sold on the platform.”

“It is obvious that such policies are not effectively enforced,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  “Online shopping platforms remain inundated with ads selling FDA-warned unauthorized products such as skin whiteners laced with mercury. It’s alarmingly out of control!”

Among the FDA-warned skin lightening products, the three variants of  Goree Beauty Cream, namely Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene and Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream (banned in 2017) and Goree Gold 24K Beauty Cream (banned in 2023) have the most number of online product listings despite multiple health warnings issued by the FDA.

Other FDA-warned skin lightening products with mercury that can be purchased online include 88 Total White Underarm Cream, Aneeza Gold Beauty Cream, Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, Feique Herbal Extract Whitening Anti-Freckle Set, Golden Pearl Beauty Cream, Jiaoli (2 variants), Parley Goldie Advanced Beauty Cream,  S’Zitang (2 variants), and 4K Plus Whitening Night Cream.

The EcoWaste Coalition also saw numerous product listings for cosmetics it had bought and screened for mercury and subsequently reported to the FDA in 2024 such as Feique (5 variants), Armena Gold, Faiza, Hua Shu Li, and Sandal creams.

Mercury-laden products reported by the group to the FDA in 2022 are still available online, namely Dr. Yahnee skincare sets, Lady Gold Seaweed Gluta, and Meyyong Seaweed Super Whitening.

“To protect human health, the kidneys in particular, e-commerce sites must go mercury-free,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“For consumers, the best way to avoid mercury exposure via skin lightening products is to embrace your natural skin tone,” the group said.  “The color of beauty is the color you are born with.”

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