Belgian skin whiteners found to contain illegal ingredients

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Belgian skin whiteners found to contain illegal ingredients

Related tags Belgium

A recent study carried out by the national Institute of Public Health (ISP) and the Free University of Brussels (VUB) found up to 60% of skin whiteners on the Belgian market to have contained one or more illegal ingredients.

A new method of analysis allows better detection of legal and illegal components present in suspected whitening cosmetics such as creams.

Of the 163 skin whitening products seized by customs, an analysis by the Scientific ( WIV -ISP) Institute of Public Health and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) found two out of three products to have contained one or more illegal whitening components.

"The survey highlighted that corticosteroids and hydroquinone were both hazardous substances most commonly found,​" Dr. Eric Deconinck, expert in service Medicines Scientific ( WIV -ISP) Institute of Public Health reported.

Corticosteroids are chemical variants of a natural hormone that inhibits various bodily reactions occurring in cases of inflammation or infection.

Hydroquinone is the active substance causing depigmentation of the upper layer of the skin. This substance has been said to cause various side effects and is dangerous for pregnant women.

Is Europe's efforts to crack down on illegal products enough?

Many beauty brands and organizations continue their efforts in the fight against the distribution of illegal cosmetics. However, there is a risk that consumers could buy illegal products without even knowing it.

Dr. Eric Deconinck's reckons illegal cosmetics arrive on the European market in the same way that counterfeit medicines do, despite efforts being made to limit the problem.

"Transport in the European market is stimulated by immigrants who seek in their host country the products they used in their country of origin​," he says.

RAPEX is one of the alarm systems that has been put in place by the EU for consumer products that pose a risk to the health and safety of consumers. The system aims to provide an overview of all the products of illegal consumption on the EU market.

Every Friday, the Commission publishes a weekly overview of the products posing a serious risk as reported by the national authorities (the RAPEX notifications). This weekly overview gives information on the product, the identified risk and the measures that were taken in the notifying country.

The EC also publishes the list of other countries where the notified product was found on their market and measures were taken.

Related topics Regulation & Safety Skin Care

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