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Why Skin Lightening Cream Sucks Because It May Have Mercury Not Listed in Ingredients

skin lightening cream

UPDATE AUGUST 2016: New information about mercury in skin lightening creams is offered below (in italics) before the original article.


A recent study in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology has revealed how common it is for mercury and other dangerous substances to be found in skin lightening products originating from countries around the world. One of the critical findings in the study was that of the skin lightening products found to contain mercury, none of them listed the toxin on the ingredient label. Therefore, even if a skin lightening product has an ingredient panel, it does not mean the manufacturer has revealed the presence of mercury.

In the study, investigators evaluated 29 products, and 22 of them contained illegal or banned ingredients, including mercury (12 products), steroids (13), and hydroquinone (11). The 22 products came from Italy (6), India (5), Democratic Republic of Congo (5), Cote d’Ivoire (2), USA (2), UK (1), and France (1). Two products contained all of the offensive ingredients.

One of the limitations of this study was that it did not include all internationally available skin lightening products. However, the findings serve as a warning that mercury and other dangerous substances are commonly found in these cosmetics and that the labels often do not reveal that information.

Many readers have posted questions here asking whether the skin lightening cream they are using contains mercury. Unfortunately, the lack of reliable information on these products has made it impossible for me to answer the questions with any certainty in most cases. Given that mercury is highly toxic, it’s better to stop using any product not verified to be mercury-free rather than risk your health. As an alternative, you can use natural means to lighten the skin, such as lemons, orange, yogurt, honey, gram flour, turmeric, and aloe vera gel.

Original Article: Scientists have found a new, faster way to detect mercury in skin lightening creams. Do you use such creams and could they be contaminated?

Some skin lightening creams have a highly undesirable ingredient that can prove hazardous to your health. To better protect consumers, a team of scientists has reported that they can now identify which creams contain dangerous levels of mercury much more quickly than they could in the past.

Both women and men seek skin lightening creams, which are popular among certain cultures and areas of the world, including Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. However, a combination of availability of skin lightening creams via the Internet, in ethnic stores, and from family and friends who travel and bring them to the US and other countries has broadened the risk to more and more people.

At the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, Gordon Vrdoljak, PhD, of the California Department of Public Health, announced he had found a faster, more efficient way to identify mercury in these skin creams. The method is called total reflection x-ray fluorescence, and instead of it taking days to process one sample, he and his team can now complete 20 to 30 samples in one day.

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The main reason such a discovery is important is that skin lightening creams and other cosmetic products are not well regulated or tested. Therefore, consumers are at risk of exposure to dangerous ingredients like mercury in skin lightening creams. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has very little oversight over cosmetic safety, although it can ban highly toxic materials such as mercury, which it has done.

Products made in other countries, however, or unscrupulous manufacturers in the United States can still add mercury to these creams, which they do because the toxic chemical is effective at making the skin paler and freckles fade. At the same time, mercury is highly toxic, especially to the central nervous system, and can be absorbed through the skin via creams. In some cases, individuals are even injecting these creams to lighten their skin.

According to Vrdoljak, while the limit on mercury in products in the United States is 1 part per million (ppm), he and his team have found levels as high as 210,000 ppm in some products. Mercury exposure can cause kidney damage, headache, fatigue, hand tremors, nausea, excessive salivation, inflammation of the tongue and gums, muscle weakness, depression, and suppressed cognitive functioning.

Anyone who uses skin lightening creams and who experiences any of these symptoms should ask their doctor to run a urine test for the presence of mercury. Even if no symptoms occur, it may be wise to consider other skin lightening options, such as lemon juice, or have your product tested.

Earlier study
In an earlier study of skin lightening cream and mercury that was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, investigators evaluated 549 skin lightening products made in 32 different countries. They were looking for products that had mercury levels greater than 200 ppm.
They discovered that:

  • 45 percent of the products had mercury levels greater than 10,000 ppm
  • 3.3 percent of the products in the US had mercury levels greater than 1,000 ppm
  • 6 percent of the products overall had levels greater than 1,000 ppm

Bottom line
Now there is a method that can quickly and accurately test skin lightening creams for mercury content. If you are concerned about a product you are using, talk to your dermatologist about whether it is possible to have your skin lightening cream tested.

If you use any type of skin lightening cream, regardless of where you purchased it, there is the possibility it contains mercury. The presence of any of the symptoms mentioned is a clear sign you should see your doctor as soon as possible for screening.

American Chemical Society
Environmental Working Group
Maneli MH et al. Combinations of potent topical steroids, mercury and hydroquinone are common in internationally manufactured skin-lightening products: a spectroscopic study. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology 2016 Mar; 41(2): 196-201



Hi, I have been using Golden Pearl beauty cream for a while now and I have heard rumors that it contains Mercury although the ingredients or website does not report any. Could you please advise me as to whether this cream contains Mercury or not?
As for as a know Golden Pearl beauty cream contains dangerous level of mercury
Yes its true, most of the creams are using more than dangerous level of mercury
Haniefa: Thank you for asking this question. Golden Pearl beauty cream contains mercury, according to the Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products (RAPEX),which allows the 31 participating countries (EU countries, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and the European Commission to exchange information on products posing a risk to health and safety of consumers and on the measures taken by these countries to do away with that risk. I don't know how much access you have to other beauty products, but the Environmental Working Group has a database called Skin Deep Cosmetics that lists which companies may safe products.
Hi Deborah... could you plz lemme know do "Fair and lovely" ( indian) and the night cream call "Goree" contain any dangerous chemical which is harm to skin? Plz be kind enough to reply.. thank you
Hi ,i just want to know if goree cream soap and cream has a mercury ingredients,,many thanks..
Hi Deborah,could you plz let me know if fade out cream from boots contain Murcury or not?
hello I have been using skin light coco butter cream and I was just wondering if it contains mercury or steroids thanks
Hi, I've been using Kim's snow lotus pearl cream (THAI) for few months...and the result is quite amazing...it has removed acne and dark sports and even made my skin smoother and fairer. There is no mercury listed in the ingredient section...but wonder if you know anything about the mercury or other hazardous contents in this cream...please let me know. Thanks in advance
Sahanza: Thank you for your question. I did a quick search for Kim's product and did not find anything. However, that does not mean it is a safe product. The manufacturer is not going to list mercury on the ingredient label. I suggest you do a search using the product's name and "mercury" and check out any product listings regarding mercury contamination. You also may want to be on the safe side and switch to a product known not to contain mercury. The Environmental Working Group has a database called Skin Deep Cosmetics that lists which companies make safe products.
I been using Milelea skin care product. Does it contain mercury? Please advice
Winnie: I was not able to find a product with that name. There is a product called Melilea. A general rule for choosing skin whitening products is to avoid any product that does not list ingredients. If there is a list of ingredients, look for mercury, mercurous chloride, mercurio, mercuric, or calomel and don't use that product. However, a product can contain mercury and it won't be listed on the label. Many skin whitening items from Mexico, other countries in Latin America, India, and China have been found to contain mercury. One clue as to whether your product contains mercury is if it turns gray or green when exposed to light. However, if it doesn't change color, that doesn't mean the product is safe. When in doubt, it's probably best to look for a product that you know does not contain mercury. You can check out the following websites for information on safe cosmetics: Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep program, and Good Guide.
Hello Is there mercury in Due Whitening cream? Is it safe to use it. Thank you
Jaya: I found Due Whitening cream listed on a European Union website as containing mercury and as a product that should be withdrawn from the market. Website: http://unsafeproducts.eu
Hi Does "Nivea hydraIQ natural fairness" contain mercury?? is it safe?? pls help, my daughter uses it all the time
Sarah: I could find no evidence that Nivea HydralQ contains mercury, but neither any evidence that it does not. I suggest you contact the company directly. 1-800-227-4703. Good luck
Im using o white extra whitening cream.i think it may be from philipine or thailand.it has mentioned as a vitamin cream.is that contain mercury
is due beauty cream safe for skin??
Samia: See my answer to Jaya on August 25; it appears Due beauty cream is not safe.
Is white pearl plus cream safe for skin?? & is it contains mercury??? Pls and the question...
how about Goree cream? how much mercury does it have?
I want to know goree cream is safe or not?
My all family using Goree it's safe or not
Faizal: I found Goree listed as having mercury on WhiterSkin, last updated November 26, 2015.
Could you please let me know where you bought orginal goree cream. Does it lightens our skin? Please please let me know where i can buy orginal product
Does Miracle White from Thailand contain mercury?
Everyone speaks about a lot of creams but how about faiza cream..is that also harmful aswell
Pranitha: According to the following website from the UK concerning creams that contain mercury, Faiza cream does contain mercury. http://www.luton-dunstable.co.uk/Mercury-face-creams-sold-Luton/story-21700328-detail/story.html
Hello, I use Piona bleaching cream, is this product safe? Please let me know. Thanks
Hi,I used kim white pearl lotus cream long time ,it gave an amazing result too acne free and glowing skin but I feel that my face doesn't look natural fairly sometimes irritates too.is that cream contains mercury or other chemicals? Can I continue that cream ?