A total of 104 whitening products were selected from the market through a random sampling technique and purchased between July 2019 and July 2020. There was a mix of leave-in and rinse-out products among them.
The products were collected from various distribution channels in Malaysia, including night market stalls, department stores, pharmacies, as well as e-commerce markets. A majority (65.4%) were purchased from physical stores, while the rest (34.6%) were found online.
The samples were sent for analysis by an accredited independent laboratory.
Just over half (51.9%) of the products were found to be registered with the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NPRA), while the rest (48.1%) were not.
Overall, 15.4% of the products contained mercury, the concentration exceeding the maximum limit of 1 ppm. The exceeded concentration recorded varied between 1.81 ppm and 838,123 ppm.
Of the products found with high concentrations of mercury, 87.5% were not registered with local regulators. Moreover, half of them were on the NPRA’s banned list.
The study authors were motivated by the lack of studies on the safety of cosmetics and mercury contamination in Malaysia, despite the simultaneous cancellation of cosmetic products notified by the authorities, many of which fall under the category of bleaching the skin. skin.
“Cosmetic safety had become an alarming issue as cancellation cosmetics on the market were reported every year, and few products were produced by influential producers, especially in Malaysia.”
Regular application of mercury, which is a toxic heavy metal, can lead to rashes, skin discoloration, and spots. Additionally, long-term exposure to high levels of mercury in cosmetics can have serious health consequences, including damage to the kidneys and the digestive and nervous systems.
“Concern arose when some of their products were found to contain harmful substances such as mercury. Even though the presence of mercury in a cosmetic product may be unintentional or intentionally used by the manufacturer in the cosmetic formulation, the impact of the ingredient may cause a health risk to users.
Given the health risks, the researchers denounced industry efforts to regulate whitening products, noting that it was easy to obtain adulterated products – especially online – and pushed for regulation. More Strict.
“Therefore, collaborative efforts among stakeholders are expected and cosmetic product regulations should be taken seriously as unregistered products can be easily obtained in the market, especially on online platforms. It is hoped that this study will serve as the basis for a broader exploration of cosmetic safety issues with the aim of ensuring the health and well-being of consumers.
Status of Cosmetics Safety in the Malaysian Market: Mercury Contamination in Some Skin Whitening Products
Source: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology
Authors: Che Wan Jasimah Wan Mohamed Radzi, Fatin Nur Majdina Nordin