Trading Standards officers are warning people to be cautious of buying skin-lightening products over the counter after products on sale in Northamptonshire were found to contain a banned substance.
The cosmetics tested included the ingredient hydroquinone, a substance that is banned from such products, and also failed to have information on their packaging about where the product is from, as required by European law.
Approved skin-lightening products should only be used under medical supervision and are largely marketed at men and women from ethnic groups. They can also be used to lighten blemishes and scars.
But Northamptonshire County Council’s Trading Standards team says it has found a number of products that are not labelled correctly and some that contain the banned substance hydroquinone in shops around Northampton.
Among those containing the substance are two products entitled “Clair-Liss” and “Clear N Smooth.”
Hydroquinone has been proven to be harmful to health and can cause permanent skin damage.
County council cabinet member public protection, Councillor André Gonzalez de Savage, said: “It’s a huge cause for concern that we’ve found cosmetic products on sale in Northamptonshire that contain such potentially harmful chemicals.
“I would encourage people not to buy skin lightening creams over the counter and anyone who has purchased one should stop using the cream immediately.
“We will not hesitate to take action against traders who sell products containing banned substances and will continue to carry out inspections and test purchases to enforce the law.”
Hydroquinone can cause premature aging and weakening of the skin.
But it can also cause neuropathy, damage the liver and increase the risk of developing skin cancer from UV radiation.
Approved skin lighteners can be prescribed by a GP or dermatologist.
Northamptonshire Trading Standards has also intercepted 2,500 bottles of counterfeit perfume in the run-up to the festive period.
Anyone who has concerns about a banned or counterfeit cosmetic product, or would like to report a trader selling such items, can contact Trading Standards by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.