Dangerous skin lightening cream is still available to buy online, despite a clampdown by trading standards officials in Tower Hamlets who have been seizing imported skin lightening creams from shops and market stalls.
Officials said that the creams they found contained high levels of the harmful ingredients hydroquinone and mercury and did not comply with the Cosmetic Products Enforcement Regulations 2013.
The seized products included the brand Fazia Beauty Cream (bleach and freckle).
Hydroquinone causes liver and skin damage, and inhibits production of the pigment melanin. The body will overcompensate by producing more melanin, which then increases the risk of skin cancer.
Mercury can cause damage to kidneys, liver and brain, leading to serious and potentially fatal health problems.
Tower Hamlets cabinet member Shiria Khatun said: “Selling these products represents a serious breach of the law, it could lead to disastrous consequences. It is valuable when people report to us anything that looks suspicious.”
Trading Standards representatives are continuing with their inspections, they say, to ensure customer safety, and provide advice to traders.
Their campaign looks to have been meeting with success. When Eastlondonlines tried to buy Faiza Beauty cream over the counter at various shops in Whitechapel and Dalston, it was not possible to find any. Shop owners said when questioned about the product that they would not sell it because “it was bad” and “caused cancer”.
However our reporter was able to order the cream online, using an international website and it arrived in the UK by post just a few days later. When Trading Standards were alerted to this new and dangerous route for the creams to come into the UK they admitted that stopping sales via foreign websites was not possible.
A Tower Hamlets council spokesperson said: “Trading Standards has jurisdiction to monitor internet sales for items being sold in the UK but it is almost impossible to take enforcement action if the seller is based overseas.
“Trading Standards can spontaneously target and vet companies who want to sell items over the internet in the UK but any action must be proportionate and will normally be led by sound intelligence.
“Trading Standards will alert consumers not to purchase unfit items on the internet. National campaigns are led by bodies such as the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and supported by local Trading Standards teams.”
Anyone who has the cream has been advised to stop using it immediately. Should they have any issues concerning their skin and health they should consult their doctor.
Any sales of dangerous or illegal goods in the borough should be reported to the council’s Environmental Health and Trading Standards Service on 020 7364 5008 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Amanda on Twitter @AAlexander1712