Coalition urges measures to end sale of mercury-laced skin products

Coalition urges measures to end sale of mercury-laced skin products
Photo shows eight analyzed skin whitening cosmetics found to be carrying excessive mercury content against the country's laws.
Release / EcoWaste Coalition

MANILA, Philippines — An environmental safety watchdog urged national and local government authorities to take a tougher stance on importers, distributors and retailers of skin whitening products laced with toxic mercury, which are illegal according to the country's mercury policies and regulations.

In a statement, the EcoWaste Coalition urged immediate action on the part of Philippine authorities to bring the perpetrators of the illegal trade in mercury-laden cosmetics to justice as it pointed to the second anniversary of the adoption of the National Action Plan for the phase-out of mercury-added products and the management of the associated mercury-containing wastes.

“Despite the adoption of the NAP in 2019 and the global phase-out of mercury-added skin lightening creams and soaps in 2020, we still find, much to our regret, such cosmetic products with elevated levels of mercury openly sold in the market,” Thony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner at the EcoWaste Coalition, said in the statement.

“To put a stop to this brazen breach of national and global effort to eliminate mercury-added skin whitening cosmetics to protect human health and the environment, we urge the authorities to crack down hard on the peddlers of these dangerous products who prey on individuals seeking lighter and flawless skin."

Dizon called attention to the group’s latest test buys in Pasay City last August before Metro Manila was placed under enhanced community quarantine where it detected extremely high levels of mercury ranging from 4,365 to 31,600 parts per million (ppm) on eight products, above the one ppm limit set under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive and the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

This came after the group purchased eight skin whitening products illegally imported from Indonesia and Pakistan and are being sold for P150 to P250 each by beauty product dealers on e-commerce. The group examined the products with a portable X-Ray Fluorescence device.

The products were also not covered by cosmetic product notification certificates from the Food and Drug Administration as required, the group said. 

Health hazards of mercury

The World Health Organization has warned consumers that "mercury-containing skin lightening products are hazardous to health." 

It also said that inorganic mercury in skin lightening creams and soaps can lead to kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, anxiety, depression, psychosis and peripheral neuropathy.

The EcoWaste Coalition identified the following analyzed skin whitening cosmetics and their mercury content:

  1. Goree Day & Night Cream Beauty Cream, 31,600 ppm
  2. Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene, 27,400 ppm
  3. AQME Beauty Cream, 18,700 ppm
  4. Parley Beauty Cream, 13,700 ppm
  5. Golden Pearl Beauty Cream, 9,926 ppm
  6. Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, 6,483 ppm
  7. Morning Face Beauty Cream, 5,282 ppm
  8. Safora Beauty Cream, 4,365 ppm

The health department also has a list on its website of "cosmetic whitening products found to contain excessive levels of mercury and without the benefit of notification with FDA."

INTERAKSYON: Ecowaste says retailers continue to sell mercury-laden beauty products in Manila

"Identify and bring the culprits to book," Dizon said, adding that "confiscated contrabands must be safely disposed of and not simply landfilled or incinerated." 

For containing toxic mercury, the FDA banned Parley Beauty Cream in 2019, Goree Beauty Cream in 2017 and Golden Pearl Beauty Cream in 2014.  

Earlier in late March, the FDA warned the public against buying and using Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, an unauthorized product.

“It’s also time for the cosmetics industry to move away from white-centric concepts and ideals of beauty, and promote diversity in beauty instead, including the inherent beauty of one’s natural skin color,” the coalition also said as it urged consumers to resist color-based bias, prejudice, and discrimination.


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with