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Mercury-Laden Facial Cream Banned in Brunei, Sold in PH

Mercury-Laden Facial Cream

3 June 2023, Quezon City. The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition deplored the continued sale of an unauthorized facial cream with mercury content that claims to moisturize and brighten skin.

Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, which the government of Brunei recently banned, is sold by online sellers in Lazada and Shopee, as well as by retailers in shops located at the Quiapo Muslim town in Manila and other bargain hubs.

As stated on its label, “collagen beauty skin cream instantly hydrates and provides new energy to dull and lackluster skin to revive radiance.”

“While the product’s ingredients are provided on the label, mercury or its other names like ammoniated mercury, mercuric iodide, mercuric chloride, mercury oxide or calomel are not listed, misleadingly giving the impression that it is mercury-free and safe to use,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Those responsible for making or placing the product in the market, including online shopping platforms, should discontinue their unlawful activities,” she said. “The public is encouraged to embrace our natural skin tone and abstain from using chemical whiteners.”

The Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Government of Brunei Darussalam in February 2023 alerted consumers against the purchase and use of Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, which contains an adulterant that can cause adverse health effects.

As tested by the pharmacy section laboratory of the MOH’s Department of Scientific Services, the product was found adulterated with undeclared mercury, a potent ingredient prohibited under Brunei’s Medicines (Cosmetic Products) Regulations of 2007.

Mercury-Laden Facial Cream

The Government of Indonesia, where the product purportedly originated, as well as the Government of the Philippines, have also taken action against the proliferation of the adulterated product.

In 2018, Indonesia’s National Agency of Drug and Food Control (Badan POM) seized unauthorized health products, including Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, for lacking market authorization and for containing banned substances like mercury.

In 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines issued Advisory No.2021-0646 against an unauthorized skin care product set of Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, Collagen Plus Vit C & Soap, and Collagen Plus Vit C & E Toner.

Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream was also among the 85 cosmetic products banned by the FDA for not having valid certificates of product notification as per Advisory No. 2017-314.

According to the latest chemical screening conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream (particularly the night cream) contains up to 2,849 parts per million (ppm) of mercury.

The trace amount limit for mercury in cosmetics such as skin lightening products is 1 ppm as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive and the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The latter provided for a 2020 phase-out deadline for the manufacture, import or export of such mercury-added cosmetics.

Regular application of skin lightening creams, lotions and soaps containing mercury could lead to skin blotching, discoloration and rash. Chronic exposure to mercury in cosmetics may have toxic effects to the nervous, digestive and renal systems, which could lead to organ damage.

Echoing the advice from Brunei’s MOH, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers who have bought or used the adulterated product to halt usage immediately, and to consult a medical doctor if experiencing any undesirable reactions to the mercury-laden Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream.


References:

Two products found to be adulterated

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.-2017-314.pdf (see #38)

https://nasional.kontan.co.id/news/bpom-sita-rp-11-miliar-kosmetik-ilegal-di-kapuk-muara

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