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EcoWaste Coalition Exposes Nonstop Use of Online Shopping Sites to Sell Mercury-Containing Skin Whitening Products

Mercury Containing Skin Whitening Products
FDA-banned skin care cosmetics with mercury that are illegally sold online based on the monitoring conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition

Quezon City. On the eve of the 2.2 online shopping sales, the toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition reprimanded online shopping giants for their dismal failure to rid their platforms of products containing hazardous substances such as mercury.

Despite restricted item policies, third party online sellers are still able to advertise and sell products that have been banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for lacking market authorization and/or for containing mercury above the one part per million (ppm) limit, the group lamented.

“The unethical and unlawful online sale of unauthorized mercury-containing products that claim to lighten the skin tone and treat dermal problems ranging from uneven skin tone, blotches, freckles, age spots, wrinkles to acne continues to persist,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “This deplorable situation has not stopped despite the government’s efforts to regulate online businesses and transactions to promote a fair and safe e-marketplace.”

“E-commerce platforms and concerned regulatory agencies must act with determination to put an end to such anomalous trade that is putting the health of consumers, their families and the environment at risk of mercury contamination,” she said. “Aside from ensuring a mercury- and toxics-free shopping, we also call e-commerce sites to eliminate excessive plastic packaging to reduce plastic waste,” she added.

The EcoWaste Coalition, which has been tracking and exposing trade in cosmetics containing mercury since 2011, reiterated the need for urgent action following the monitoring it conducted today targeting product listings for FDA-banned or warned skin care cosmetics.

Like in previous monitoring activities, the group found dozens of product listings for banned cosmetics from Pakistan such as the three variants of Goree Beauty Cream (Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene, Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream, and Goree Gold 24K Gold Beauty Cream), Golden Pearl Beauty Cream and Parley Goldie Advance Beauty Cream, which were the subjects of FDA public health warnings issued from 2017 to 2023.

Banned mercury cosmetics

The group also monitored FDA-warned cosmetics from Thailand, including 88 Total White Underarm Cream, Snow White Armpit Whitening Underarm Cream, and 4K Plus Whitening Night Cream, which the FDA banned between 2021 to 2023.

Also found on sale were China-made Ailke, Feique Jiaoli and S’Zitang skin care cosmetics, which the FDA prohibited through various advisories issued between 2010 to 2022.

Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream reportedly smuggled from Indonesia, which the FDA banned in 2017 and 2021, are likewise being sold online.

Notwithstanding the release of the Philippine Guidelines for Online Businesses in March 2022 reiterating the responsibility of online businesses to protect the interest of consumers against products that pose hazards to their health and safety, the unethical and unlawful online trade of mercury-containing cosmetics has not stopped, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

With the apparent failure to enforce the ban on mercury-containing cosmetics as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive and the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the EcoWaste Coalition renewed its call on the authorities to review the implementation of the country’s National Action Plan towards the phase-out of mercury-added products and the management of associated mercury-containing wastes.

Mercury is a toxic element and even small amounts of this chemical is hazardous to human health. For mercury-containing skin lightening creams, mercury is released through usual product use with dermal contact and inhalation as common exposure routes. Repeated applications can harm the kidneys, the brain and the central nervous system, cause skin discoloration, rashes and scarring, and diminish skin resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.

The use of mercury-containing skin whitening products by pregnant women is of utmost concern as mercury is known to cross the placenta during pregnancy and accumulate in fetal tissues, affecting the developing brain and nervous system of the baby in the womb and causing neurodevelopmental disorders.

To avoid mercury exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition is urging the public to embrace our natural skin tone and reject chemical whiteners, which tend to reinforce colorism or the discrimination based on skin color.


A. Examples of online product listings of FDA-warned cosmetics based on search conducted on 1 February 2024:

https://shopee.ph/search?keyword=goryang (3 variants of Goree Beauty Cream)
https://shopee.ph/search?keyword=beauty%20cream%20pakistan (3 variants of Goree Beauty Cream, Golden Pearl Beauty Cream, Parley Goldie Advance Beauty Cream)
https://shopee.ph/search?keyword=feique%20herbal%20extract (Feique Herbal Extract Whitening Anti-Freckle Set)
https://shopee.ph/search?keyword=4k%20plus%20cream (4K Plus Whitening Night Cream)
https://shopee.ph/search?keyword=ailke%20cream (2 variants of Ailke whitening cream)
https://shopee.ph/search?keyword=collagen%20plus%20vit%20e%20day%20%26%20night (Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream)
https://shopee.ph/search?keyword=jiaoli%20cream (2 variants of Jiaoli whitening cream)
https://shopee.ph/search?keyword=szitang (3 variants of S’Zitang)
https://shopee.ph/search?keyword=snow%20white%20armpit%20whitening (Snow White Armpit Whitening Underarm Cream)
https://www.lazada.com.ph/tag/beauty-cream-pakistan/?q=beauty%20cream%20pakistan&catalog_redirect_tag=true (3 variants of Goree Beauty Cream)
https://www.lazada.com.ph/catalog/?q=ailke%20cream (2 variants of Ailke whitening cream)
https://www.lazada.com.ph/catalog/?q=Collagen%20Plus%20Vit%20E%20Day%20%26%20Night (Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream)
https://www.lazada.com.ph/catalog/?q=s%27zitang%20moisturizing (S’Zitang 3-in-1)
https://www.lazada.com.ph/tag/88-total-white-underarm/?q=88%20total%20white%20underarm&catalog_redirect_tag=true (88 Total White Underarm Cream)
https://www.lazada.com.ph/tag/snow-white-armpit/?q=snow%20white%20armpit&catalog_redirect_tag=true (Snow White Armpit Whitening Underarm Cream)

B. References

https://www.who.int/publications-detail-redirect/WHO-CED-PHE-EPE-19.13
https://www.mercuryconvention.org/en/news/2020-time-phase-out-mercury-added-products-has-arrived

FDA Advisory No.2023-1491 || Public Health Warning Against the Purchase and Use of Unauthorized Cosmetic 4K PLUS WHITENING NIGHT CREAM

FDA Advisory No.2022-1332 || Public Health Warning Against the Purchase and Use of Unauthorized Cosmetic AILKE TECHNOLOGY PERFECTION SALVATION ROSY WHITENING A + B

FDA Advisory No.2022-1331 || Public Health Warning Against the Purchase and Use of Unauthorized Cosmetic AILKE SUPERIOR WHITENING SMOOTHEN WHITENING & REGENERATING 2 SET


https://www.fda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/FDA-Advisory-No.2021-1187.pdf
https://www.fda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/FDA-Advisory-No.2021-3043.pdf
https://www.fda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/FDA-Advisory-No.2021-0646.pdf
https://www.fda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/FDA-Advisory-No.-2018-183.pdf
https://www.fda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/FDA-Advisory-No.-2017-157.pdf (see #2)
https://www.fda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/FDA-Advisory-No.-2017-289.pdf
https://www.fda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/FDA-Advisory-No.-2017-314.pdf (see #38)
https://www.fda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/DOH-FDA_Advisory_No_2012-016.pdf
https://www.fda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/FDA-Advisory-No.-2013-053-A.pdf
https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=44c5515a-7bf5-4de7-803e-fe4ebe385e17 (Philippine Guidelines for Online Businesses)

EcoWaste Coalition
Let's make an eco-friendly, zero waste, and toxic-free Philippines a reality.
https://www.ecowastecoalition.org/