Safety Warning On Skin Lightening Creams, Lotions and Soaps, and Anti-Aging Products: Risk Of Mercury Or Toxic Metal Ingredients
The FDA has urged dermatologists, consumers, emergency medical professionals and the general public of the potential risks with skin lighteners and products marketed as anti-aging aids.
In the safety warning, concerned parties have been alerted of the potential of there being either mercury or other toxic metal components in the ingredients of such products.
Background of skin lightening products and anti-aging treatments
Products indicated in this safety warning are those marketed and advertised as agents for skin lightening and/or anti-ageing, and they are available in the form of:
- Soaps (beauty soaps or antiseptic soaps)
These products are generally marketed as having the following benefits:
- Skin lightening (fairer complexion)
- Anti-aging (slowed/slowing aging, delayed aging or improving aged skin)
- Clearing or improving aged spots and wrinkles
- Fading freckles, blemishes, and spots
- Treating acne
Most products are marketed as having several of these benefits all-in-one package
FDA Alert on skin lightening and anti-aging products
Products indicated in this safety warning are particularly those that are not manufactured in the US, but end up being brought into the country and sold unlawfully to US consumers.
Within the last couple of years, the FDA has been conducting analyses of such products marketed for either skin lightening or anti-aging and have so far identified over 35 products whose percentage content of mercury is above the acceptable amount.
Furthermore, products containing toxic metals were identified within no less than 7 different states in the US.
Particular hotspot culprits are retailers or outlets that are:
- Asian districts
- African areas
- Middle Eastern zones
- Latino neighborhoods
- On the Internet (online)
Another common means of entry for these products into the USA is through consumers who bring them back to the USA for their own personal usage.
FDA Recommendation on Skin Lighteners and Anti-Aging treatments
- “Consumers are advised to check the label of any skin lightening, anti-aging or other skin product used.
- If there is no label or no ingredients are listed, do not use the product.
- If “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric,” “mercurio,” or “mercury,” are listed on the label, stop using the product immediately.
- If you suspect you have been using a product with mercury, stop using it immediately.
- Thoroughly wash hands and any other parts of the body that have come in contact with the product.
- Contact a health care professional or a medical care clinic for advice.”
Contacting the FDA to report cases related to anti-aging and skin lightening products
Any adverse side effects or incidences relating to the use of skin lightening products and/or anti-aging products should immediately be reported to the FDA.
This should be done by contacting or informing the FDA’s MedWatch Safety Information & Adverse Event Reporting Program through any of the following ways:
- Filling and submitting an online report at: http://www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm
- Download the case reporting form at: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/HowToReport/DownloadForms/default.htm
- Dialing 1-800-332-1088 and requesting to get a report form, filling it and returning it to the address indicated on the form
- Faxing the filled-up form to the fax number: 1-800-FDA-0178