A recent report by the European Environmental Bureau has found that many products used for whitening or lightening the skin contain unsafe levels of mercury.
In fact, many manufacturers in the cosmetic industry use this chemical as it can inhibit the release of melanin and lighten blemishes, freckles, or dark skin patches.
Nevertheless, mercury can be very toxic to the body. Studies have shown that applying skin lightening products with mercury may increase the risk of spotty skin, skin discoloration, rashes, and infections. The chemical can even lead to other medical conditions in the long run.
In this project, the scientists set a list of 80 skin whitening products, which are possibly high in mercury, in 17 nations. 271 samples were taken and analyzed for levels of mercury.
The results show that almost 48 percent of these samples contained more mercury than legal limits.
An important finding from the report is that the governments do not implement sufficient measures to confirm the legality and safety of skin whitening products on different e-commerce websites and physical shops. Even temporary bans or warnings do not prevent their availability.
The analysis also verified that most sellers do not have sufficient motivation to check whether products in their stores are legal or not.
For safe alternatives to mercury, the searchers suggest that vitamin C, kojic acid, vitamin K, licorice, and hydroquinone can be safe ingredients for skin whitening products.
In the report, the authors noticed that the use of skin-lightening products would be associated with historic problems caused by racism.
For consumers, the best way to ensure that their skincare products are safe is to avoid using skin-lightening products. The agency stated that it will soon publish an online database that specifies various ingredients in these products.
In addition, it is advisable to check reliable sources and verify whether the Food and Drug Administration has issued any warnings about any products.
Everyone should consult a certified doctor to deal with their hyperpigmentation problems. Certain side effects are related to the use of skin whitening products bought in drug stores, especially from unknown online platforms. These include skin ulcers, thinning skin, and skin rashes.
Another important thing to keep in mind is to avoid the use of too many skincare products at once. Different active ingredients may interact with each other and lead to unwanted complications.