• The mercury in these cosmetic products serves the purpose of blocking the production of melanin, hence used to remove black spots. 

A skin expert does a facial treat to a lady in this undated photo.
A skin expert does a facial treat to a lady in this undated photo.
Image: Courtesy

A skin lightening cream that you bought off the shelf or an online shop could be having dangerous levels of mercury. 

The mercury in these cosmetic products serves the purpose of blocking the production of melanin, hence used to remove black spots. 

A study by the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) found that nearly half of the 271 products sold on online platforms contain high levels of mercury. 

Some had as high as 65,000ppm which is beyond the legal limit of mercury in cosmetics. 

Such levels of mercury are dangerous as it can cause rashes on the skin, kidney disease or nervous system damage. 

In Kenya, beauty shops have gone beyond selling skin lightening and anti-ageing creams to selling medicated ones. 

These are creams used to treat a variety of skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, allergies and rashes.

The Pharmacy and Poisons Board recently expressed concern over an increase in the sale of medicated creams in cosmetic shops.

The board is set to mount a crackdown on the beauty shops selling medicated creams and putting the lives of Kenyans at risk. 

It insists that the medicated creams should only be sold to consumers with a prescription from a dermatologist.

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