Health In Focus
  • Always check the label for mercury in skin care products
  • Mercury is used as an ingredient in skin lightening and anti-aging creams
  • Exposure to mercury from skincare products is harmful to the user and their family as well
Every woman wishes for flawless skin and uses several skin care products that are available in the market. But, are all the skincare products safe to use? It may be not so. Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) warned consumers against the use of skin care creams, soaps and lotions that contain mercury.

Mercury is used as an active ingredient in skin care products but it comes with a host of adverse side effects. According to the statement released by the USFDA's website, mercury is listed on the label by different names such as mercurous chloride, calomel, mercuric, and mercurio. It is mandatory for any cosmetic or non-prescription drug to list the products' ingredients on the label. Consumers should stop buying skin care products that have any of these names mentioned on the label.
Skin Care Products Contain High Levels of Toxic Mercury
Skin Care Products Contain High Levels of Toxic Mercury

The USFDA has cautioned consumers not to assume that the product is safe if the ingredients are not listed, or if the product label is not mentioned.

The USFDA warns, that the products are manufactured in other countries and sold illegally in the US markets. Some of these harmful skin care products are also sold through mobile apps and promoted online in social media. Some individuals have bought the products in other countries and brought them back to the US for personal use.

Products that Contain Mercury

The acceptable level of mercury in skin care products is 1 part per million. But most of the creams and lotions contain mercury as high as 210,000 parts per million.

The common skin care products that contain mercury are skin lighteners and anti-aging creams and lotions that are used to remove wrinkles, age spots, freckles, and blemishes. Some products that are used by teenagers for acne treatment also contain mercury. Mercury is also found in other cosmetics such as eye make-up products like mascara. Some products that are gray colored have high levels of mercury contamination.

Dangers of Mercury Exposure

Exposure to mercury can be harmful to both users of the products and their families. Pregnant women, newborns and young children are vulnerable to mercury toxicity. Consumers who have used mercury-containing products have mercury poisoning or elevated levels of mercury in their bodies.

Newborns are more sensitive to mercury exposure as it can harm their developing brains and nervous systems. Breastfed infants are exposed to mercury from their mother's breast milk.

Mercury enters the body when the vapor from skincare products is inhaled. Young children might touch towels or clothes that are contaminated with mercury. Even touching a person's face who has applied a mercury-containing product can be harmful.

Studies conducted on mice have shown that the usage of fairness creams affected the liver, kidney and brain function. Other studies have shown that mercury exposure causes cognitive decline, headache, anxiety, depression and hand tremors in users.

Tips to Protect Yourself from Mercury Exposure
  • Do not buy cosmetics or drugs labeled in languages other than English unless English labeling is also provided. This may be a sign that the product is marketed illegally.
  • Seal all the mercury-containing skin care products in a plastic bag before discarding.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly if you have come in contact with products that contain mercury.
References :
  1. Mercury Poisoning Linked to Skin Products - (
  2. Mercury in Skin Lightening Products - ( -)
Source: Medindia

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