The health concerns regarding cosmetic products have been disputed over and over again in recent years. As the demand for these products continues to increase, the need for relevant studies on their composition is a top priority. This necessity has recently led to a study that found hazardous ingredients in 18 common cosmetic products.
The cosmetics that make up this list are:
Consequently, the Health Science Authority (HSA) has issued a statement to address the issue of these frequently used products. The most dangerous element found in these cosmetics was mercury, a toxic heavy metal that is officially prohibited for use in the cosmetic industry. This substance can be harmful for humans. Mercury is naturally found in the environment and we are exposed to it in different manners due to its natural occurrence, mainly, through the food we eat or the water we drink. The FDA has severely restricted the use of mercury in cosmetic products since 1974. Theoretically, this element should be present in trace amounts in cosmetics; just 1 part-per-million of mercury is allowed. Any product that exceeds this limit, directly violates the FDA regulations.
The mercury found in cosmetic products is dangerous because topical application allows it to be easily absorbed through the skin. The toxic effects of this element have been the subject of numerous studies. Based on the type of mercury that causes the exposure, the effects vary from skin allergies and rash to discoloration, or neurotoxicity. After prolonged exposure, the person can suffer from memory loss, nausea, nervousness, kidney problems, hearing impairment, digestive problems, tremors, and, in high levels, exposure to mercury can even cause death.
Regular application of products containing traces of mercury should, therefore, be avoided.
In the statement the HSA issued in April in Singapore, they warned against using the aforementioned cosmetic products that exceeded the permitted mercury level by as much as 27.000 times.
Other substances that have been found in these products are:
Tretinoin is used in anti-acne products and anti-aging products. This element belongs to the group of drugs known as retinoids and is efficient in eliminating acne and reducing fine facial wrinkles. Some of the potential side-effects of this substance are headaches, fever, skin rash, swelling, dryness, redness, or peeling, fatigue, weakness, bone pain, vomiting, eyesight problems, and even birth defects.
Hydroquinone is usually used in skin lighteners, a group of products that have become increasingly popular among women with darker skin. This ingredient has been extensively researched and linked to several health problems such as respiratory tract irritation, organ-system toxicity, and even cancer.
Hydroquinone and tretinoin are very strong ingredients that should normally not be used in cosmetic products. In many countries, their use is only permitted in medical treatments that help manage skin conditions. Consequently, any products containing these ingredients should only be used following the doctor's recommendations and under his or her supervision.
HSA's cosmetics list contains different products ranging from facial toners and anti-acne cream to night cream and whitening cream. The products in question could typically be purchased from outlets and online platforms. Pursuant to HSA's findings, the products have been recalled from the outlets commercializing them, as well as the websites where they were advertised and sold.
The HSA conducted this research as part of its normal control and surveillance activity. In the statement they released, the public is urged to stop using the respective cosmetics immediately.
Although many of the cosmetic products that have been subject to this analysis might deliver the expected results, their potential disadvantages outweigh by far the short-term benefits.
In conclusion, it is recommended to carefully read the ingredients on the cosmetics' label before purchasing them. The sources where these products are purchased should also be reliable ones such as pharmacies or reputable retail stores. Moreover, people who seek a solution for recurrent skin problems should always consult a dermatologist before applying any products.