Mercury poisoning linked with cosmetics

Whenever you go to a beauty salon or spa what’s that one word that you keep on hearing? Its whitening or lightening. We have a craze of whitening and lightening facials, whitening cleansers, whitening masks and what not. It seems that every girl out there needs to look whiter and brighter with every passing day. This is a dangerous trend and made way for the popularity of formula creams few years back. Instant results of such lightening creams are due to the presence of some harmful ingredients like mercury.

As a matter of fact you should be reading the ingredient list of any product that you’re going to use on your skin. There are hazardous ingredients like carcinogens and heavy metals including mercury, widely being used in production of various creams and cosmetics. In 1976, the use of mercury in cosmetic products was banned in the EU. The US banned the use of mercury in skin bleaching creams much later in 1990. In Pakistan, PSQCA recently approved a (voluntary) standard on fairness creams which limits the use of mercury in cosmetics to safe limits.

Earlier in January 2016, a study conducted by Centre of Science and Environment, India’s leading NGO shows that mercury is present in 44% of popular Fairness cream brands in India which is alarming. We still don’t have such study in Pakistan to check and monitor that how many cosmetics, soaps and creams out there are using harmful ingredients.

Mercury, when even used in small quantities can lighten skin coloration by suppressing melanin production. Hence the quick effects of whitening are seen without knowing the damage that’s going to come with time. Out of so many carcinogens and harmful ingredients being used in skin lightening creams, mercury is the most toxic.

It is the only liquid metal that can turn into vapors and highly absorbent on skin. You must’ve heard that a broken thermometer needs to be disposed of carefully. Simply because it has neurotoxin mercury which can be absorbed in the body through skin or vapor inhalation.

Historic Fact: The first emperor of China, Qín Shǐ Huáng Dì was killed by drinking a mercury and powdered jade mixture formulated by Qin alchemists (causing liver failure, mercury poisoning, and brain death) who intended to give him eternal life. It is a known neurotoxic.

Inorganic mercury present in formula creams can damage kidneys and may cause rashes, skin discoloration and scarring. It can also cause anxiety, depression, psychosis and peripheral neuropathy. Also, if you’ve applied any such creams and comes in contact with an infant, he or she can also get mercury inhaled thorugh vapors or licking your finger/skin.

Image credit: Gulfnews

The standard of safe mercury levels as approved by FDA and WHO in fairness creams is 1ppm (i.e. 1mg of cream has 1 million particles and only 1 particle can be of mercury) and even a slight increase than this value is banned in US and EU.

Always use a trusted brand when it comes to your skin. Use the products which are ISO or SHA certified and well known for their quality standards. Don’t waste your money on a pack of poisonous cocktail of steroids and carcinogens. Spend wisely and beware of the ingredients that you’re going to use on your precious skin. Wear your skin with pride and confidence of being beautiful.

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