Mercury in skin lightening cosmetics

Women in many countries use cosmetic products that lighten their skin, in pursuit of “fair-skinned beauty.” Some of the products may be harmless, but others contain potentially hazardous ingredients such as inorganic mercury compounds, hydroquinone, and steroids. These products are often applied to large areas of the skin, left on the skin for hours at a time, and used repeatedly for weeks, months or years. Mercury-containing skin lightening cosmetics pose significant risks to users. Mercury absorbed through the skin from lightening products can damage the skin itself, the kidneys, and the nervous system. Governments urgently need to restrict the production, sale and distribution of the products and educate consumers about the hazards they pose.

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