SINGAPORE - Two skin whitening creams tested by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) have been found to contain extremely high levels of mercury and other prohibited ingredients.
The HSA is alerting the public not to purchase or use the Glow Glowing Skincare 4 in 1 cosmetic set, which contains the Night Glowing cream and Night Glow cream.
The Night Glowing cream was found to have exceeded the permissible mercury limits by over 25,000 times.
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.
The Night Glow cream was also found to contain tretinoin and hydroquinone, which are both prohibited ingredients. The amount of hydroquinone detected in Night Glow was three times higher than the concentrations found in products used for skin treatments.
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 be used only under medical supervision, as they may be harmful 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.
The HSA investigated the two products after receiving feedback from a member of public who became suspicious when the whitening effect "was too immediate".
Both products were sold on various online platforms and were marketed for skin brightening and whitening, and to help reduce pimples.
In a statement released on Tuesday (July 18), the HSA said: "Although only these two products within the Glow Glowing Skincare 4 in 1 cosmetic set were found to contain very high mercury levels and other prohibited ingredients, consumers who have purchased or are using the cosmetic set or other cosmetic sets containing these two creams are advised to stop using the entire set as a precautionary measure."
Consumers can visit www.healthdangers.sg to learn more about the dangers of buying illegal health products from questionable sources.
The HSA added that it is working with online platforms to remove the products from their websites.
Sellers must stop selling the Night Glowing and Night Glow creams immediately.
"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 said.
The HSA said it will take action against anyone found selling the affected creams.
Anyone who supplies illegal health products is liable to prosecution and if convicted, may be imprisoned for up to three years and/or fined up to $100,000.
Members of the public who have any information on the sale and supply of these products may contact HSA's Enforcement Branch on 6866-3485 during office hours (Monday to Friday) or e-mail: email@example.com.