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HSA warns people against using cosmetic cream containing high levels of mercury

People in Singapore have been warned against using a cosmetic set - ‘Glow Glowing Skincare 4 in 1’- after one of the products in the set was found to have more than 25,000 times the permissible limits of mercury. The alert has been issued by Health Sciences Authority (HSA) today.

‘Night Glow’ cream in the kit had two others prohibited and potent ingredients - tretinoin and hydroquinone while the ‘Night Glowing’ cream had more than 25,000 times the permissible limit of mercury.

HSA has advised people to stop using the entire set immediately “as a precautionary measure”. Investigations were launched following feedback from a consumer who used the product and became suspicious “when the whitening effect was too immediate”.

Glow Glowing Skincare 4 in 1
People in Singapore have been warned against using the cosmetic set - ‘Glow Glowing Skincare 4 in 1'. Photo courtesy: HSA

Informing about the harmful effects of mercury, HSA said, “Mercury is a toxic substance and is prohibited for use as an ingredient in cosmetic products. Regular application of creams containing mercury could lead to rash, skin discolouration and blotching. Chronic exposure to very high levels of mercury in cosmetic products may also cause toxic effects to the kidneys, digestive and nervous system, as it can be absorbed through the skin. This could lead to organ damage.”

It added, “Hydroquinone and tretinoin are potent ingredients that are used in western prescription medicines for the treatment of skin conditions. These ingredients are prohibited in skincare cosmetic products and should only be used under medical supervision, as they may cause harmful effects if not used properly. The inappropriate use of hydroquinone could result in changes in skin colour and hypersensitivity reactions such as rashes, redness, tingling and burning of skin. Inappropriate use of tretinoin could lead to redness and peeling of the skin.”

Thus, HSA noted, hydroquinone and tretinoin “should only be used under medical supervision, as they may cause harmful effects if not used properly”.

This cosmetic set was marketed on the websites for its skin brightening and whitening properties, and ability to reduce pimples. The HSA is working with online platforms to remove the products from their websites.

HSA said, “Sellers have the responsibility to ensure that the cosmetic products they are selling are safe for use and comply with Singapore’s regulatory requirements for the sale and supply of cosmetic products, including the absence of prohibited substances.”

It added, “Anyone caught selling the affected creams can be prosecuted. If convicted, they can be jailed for up to three years and/or fined up to SGD100,000.”

Ashraf Jamal
Ashraf Jamal – Senior Writer

Ashraf Jamal brings a rare depth to writing equipped with a degree in journalism, a postgraduate degree in political science, and a degree in law from the Allahabad University. His experience includes editing and publishing the Northern India Patrika and writing for Times of India for almost a decade covering just about any topic under the sun including NRIs and Indian diaspora.