News item

Trading standards crackdown on skin bleach cosmetics

Trading Standards Officers from across London have taken part in a clampdown on unsafe skin lightening products.              

More than 100 different cosmetics were purchased from shops in 15 London boroughs and tested for the harmful products Mercury and Hydroquinone, 12 were found to have significant Mercury content and 20 found to contain hydroquinone.

Hydroquinone can severely damage skin, and was famously used by Michael Jackson during the later stages of his life.  Mercury has potential severe effects on internal organs and bone strength.

“Stillman’s Skin Bleach” contained almost 1% of Mercury while “Flori’s Duo” skin lightening serum, contained 7.7% hydroquinone.

In follow-up raids across London, Trading Standards teams found banned cosmetics on shelves, under counters, and hidden in store rooms.

Barking and Dagenham Council’s Trading Standards alone seized more than 3,000 illicit cosmetics from four shops.

Theo Lamptey, Trading Standards Manager, stated he is alarmed by the findings. “It is clear traders are still willing to take chances selling dangerous products to consumers across London. Any business planning to trade in these goods should be aware they may face vigorous enforcement action by Trading Standards. The maximum penalty is a £20,000 fine and twelve months imprisonment per offence”

A National Trading Standards Board funded project centred on ports to prevent the importation of illegal cosmetics resulted in 670,891 non-compliant cosmetics detained at ports in 2014 with 46,495 products assessed as unsafe.

Warwickshire Trading Standards Service have stopped and destroyed over 9000 products labelled as containing Hydroquinone being imported through the Coventry Airport Postal-Hub.

Regulations introduced in 2013 make it an offence to distribute non-approved cosmetics. Cosmetics must have been tested and registered by their manufacturer or importer.

The Regulations prohibit a wide-range of chemicals due to their potential adverse affects on health.

Anyone concerned about the safety of cosmetics should report the matter to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service 03454040506 which will refer the matter to the local trading standards team. Unsafe products can be found on the online database.


 For further information please contact Theo Lamptey, 07968571172 or Cenred Elworthy 07870278232

DAT: 30 March 2015