Toxic face creams dumped in SA

23 September 2015 - 02:27 By Suthentira Govender and Nompumelelo Magwaza

South Africa has become a dumping ground for dodgy skin lighteners, which have increasingly become must-have cosmetics for women desperate to be fair-skinned. Professor Nonhlanhla Khumalo, head of dermatology at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, warned this week that skin products containing harmful mercury and hydroquinone are flooding the market from India, Central Africa, the UK and US.Khumalo, who established the UCT Hair and Skin Research Laboratory, has called for international law enforcement and random testing of products to ensure industry compliance.Last month, more than R200000 in unlicensed pharmaceutical products, including skin lighteners, were seized in Durban in a raid by the Hawks, Department of Health officials and customs. Three people were arrested and skin-lightening creams were confiscated.Khumalo recently conducted a study of 29 products sold in Cape Town, which found 80% contained dangerous and illegal ingredients such as mercury and hydroquinone.Of the 29, 22 contained illegal skin-lightening ingredients, including Caro Light, Extra Clair lightening cream, Fair Gel Plus, Skin Light Spotless Cream, Lemonvate and Betasol."My concern is how harmful these products are. We end up picking up the pieces after women have their skin damaged," said Khumalo.

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