Sorisha's skin cream probed

30 January 2010 - 10:41 By Corrinne Louw and Teneshia Naidoo
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A Durban skin specialist has asked a chemist to investigate the ingredients of a skin-lightening cream endorsed by Scandal actress Sorisha Naidoo after more than a dozen complaints about the product.

Principal dermatologist and senior head of the skin clinic at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Dr Ncoza Dlova said she had sent samples of Pure Perfect for analysis after 15 patients said the product had caused them to break out in acne or darkened the colour of their skin.

She said other Durban dermatologists had seen patients with similar complaints after using the facial cream, which sold for nearly R1000 in 11 selected stores countrywide.

"What usually happens with skin lighteners is that in the first month or so your skin will look really nice and, as a result, patients get a false sense of improvement. Then, four to six months later, they will start to see complications, but by then the damage would already have been done," said Dlova.

"I have been working with a chemist and I have sent a sample of Pure Perfect to be analysed where they will look for the presence of steroids or any banned substances."

Efforts to contact Pure Perfect were unsuccessful.

Naidoo endorsed the US-based skin- lightening product after criticism of her skin colour. It also reputedly assists with acne scarring and pigmentation.

However, in December, Naidoo, who is married to multimillionaire businessman Vivian Reddy, admitted in a half-page advertisement in a local newspaper that she had co-developed a "new and improved parfait", as the old cream had caused her to go from "a beautiful white shade to a very pink, flushed tone".

The new composition is said to cause "brighter, lighter and clearer skin within days".

The first product, according to Naidoo, was discontinued, as it bruised and scarred her face and neck.

"I constantly had to cover blotches and red marks or bruises on my neck or face. I met a cosmetologist from the UK in June who advised me that the product was exfoliating my skin faster than it could repair itself, hence the white tone of my skin was gone, only to be replaced by the very last layers of dermis."

Naidoo said consumers who tried the new cream would experience transitional side-effects, but that these were "one step closer to happier and healthier whitening".

On her website, Naidoo said the new product was passed by the Department of Health and did not contain any banned substances, including hydroquinine. The chemical - a skin-whitening ingredient that breaks down the skin's protective layer, causing burning, itching and blistering - was banned in 1987 under the Foodstuffs, Cosmetic and Disinfectants Act of 1972.

She said that in the past three years several dermatologists had tested the products and found no harmful substances.

This week Naidoo told the Sunday Times Extra that she was aware that some people had experienced negative reactions to the first cream.

"I believe, however, that these people weren't using the product correctly."

She said she believed it was "good practice and every individual's right" to have the product analysed.

She said both the old and the new products had received Medicines Control Council (MCC) verification under the cosmetic category.

A disclaimer on the website noted that "the use of the word lightening, in the context of a cosmetic skin-care preparation, is prohibited by local regulations in some parts of the world" and therefore the product was not for medicinal benefit and purely for cosmetic purposes.

Department of Health spokesman Fidel Hadebe said it was mandatory that products advertised as skin lighteners be registered with the MCC.

In an online blog, Health 24, Pure Perfect users posted complaints to a medical expert saying that the product had "destroyed" their skin and were seeking advice on how to rectify it.

TELL US: What has been your experience with a skin-whitening or lightening product? E-mail by Tuesday, February 2.

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