Mercury in counterfeit skin whitening products - a global issue

I was reading this study on mercury contamination in skincare products, and this paragraph stood out to me:

New problems have also developed. Sampling via the Internet estimated that 6% of skin-lightening products globally contain more than 1,000 μg/g mercury.14 The ability to purchase products on the Internet opens up new opportunities for producers of toxic skin-whitening creams. The chances of buying a counterfeit item on the Internet is high. The situation in Cambodia is similar to that in many developing countries in that counterfeiting of products including face creams is common. A survey of 870 retail outlets found more than half had at least one counterfeited article.40 In 2006, 200 boxes of counterfeit Olay and Dove cosmetics were found in Indonesia.41 In 2010, seven tons of Cambodian-made fake cosmetics were discovered by the police in Phnom Penh.42 In 2014, Interpol raided a factory in China producing counterfeit cosmetics with high levels of mercury.43 Such formal confiscations of counterfeit consumer goods have become more common, but counterfeit products are still available. The potential for such products to be shipped overseas is high. It is simple for bootleggers to create new packaging and is not possible for the average citizen to detect a bootleg product. A website from Minnesota, USA shows “Lemon Herbal” in new packaging and with 10-times higher levels of mercury (33,000 μg/g) than found in the present study: Bootlegging of cosmetics is thus a global problem.

Although the article focused on counterfeit issues within developing countries, it is highly likely that these counterfeit products get shipped overseas as well.

The last sentence also highlighted that it wasn’t just developing countries as well, and that these counterfeits can pop up in developed countries too.

Just a PSA to always buy from trusted retailers!