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UK retailer fined over illegal skin whitening products

By Louise Prance , 25-May-2007

A UK based cosmetics retailer has been fined £24,000 following the sale of illegal skin whitening creams, said to cause damage to skin health due to the harsh quality of the ingredients - a triumph against the rise in illegal products in Europe.

Based in London the store, Sabina Hair and Cosmetics, was found to be selling toxic cosmetic and steroid creams that contained a banned substance, hydroquinone, which is linked to cancer. Found during a raid by the Trading Standards last year, all the products were being sold from below the counter, an indication that the company was aware of the illegal implications of the sales. The creams were aimed to capitalise on the skin whitening market, which is seeing rapid growth in the UK following success in Asian markets. Targeting the large ethnic population in the UK, the shopkeeper was said to be selling over 200 banned products which contained ingredients that have been known to irreversibly damage health when used in excessive quantities. The company was found guilty of contributing to the counterfeit trade after admitting to seven offences under the Cosmetics Products (safety) Regulations and Medications Act, following a previous conviction of similar crimes in 2005. This is not the first time retailers have come under fire for the sale of illegal products in a bid to capitalise on the ever-growing consumer desire for lightened skin. Earlier this year a UK couple was fined for selling skin whitening products that contained banned ingredients harmful to consumer health, in a failed bid to capitalise on the ever-growing consumer desire for lightened skin. According to press reports the couple had been retailing the banned ingredients from their Peckham based cosmetic stores, Yinka Bodyline and Beauty Express Cosmetics, in South-East London and are said to have earned over £1 million from the skin creams. Larger corporations have also come under fire over skincare ingredients, with Proctor & Gamble told to withdraw its SK-II range from shelves in China late last year. There were fears that the products contained high levels of heavy metals, chromium and neodymium. However, the company worked hard to dispel the theory and the line was resumed early this year.

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