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"The Dark Side of Beauty: The Hidden Dangers of Skin-Whitening Creams in Canada"

CEO Tinh Phung
Some skin-lightening products sold in Canada contain alarming levels of harmful ingredients, including mercury, hydroquinone, and steroids. These dangerous substances can have severe health effects and are considered unauthorized by Health Canada. CBC Marketplace conducted...

Some skin-lightening products sold in Canada contain alarming levels of harmful ingredients, including mercury, hydroquinone, and steroids. These dangerous substances can have severe health effects and are considered unauthorized by Health Canada. CBC Marketplace conducted an investigation and discovered that many beauty supply stores across the country sell these illegal creams. Even some sales clerks issued warnings about the potential damage they can cause. It's time to shed light on the hidden dangers of skin-whitening creams and the risks they pose to consumers.

Testing the Products

To uncover the truth behind these products, Marketplace purchased over 100 skin lightening or whitening creams and commissioned a laboratory in the U.K. to test the most popular ones. The results were shocking. Many of these creams contained concentrations of hydroquinone exceeding Health Canada's limit, as well as undisclosed ingredients like steroids. These unauthorized substances can lead to serious skin issues and long-term health problems.

Testing the products Testing the products - Image Source

Dr. Lisa Kellett, a dermatologist in Toronto, has seen firsthand the damage caused by these over-the-counter products. Patients have come to her with infections, pigment changes, and severe skin reactions. The misuse of hydroquinone can even result in hospitalization. It's clear that these creams are not only illegal but also extremely dangerous.

The Hidden Ingredients

Marketplace's investigation revealed numerous brands that violated Health Canada guidelines. One such product, Maxi Light, contained hydroquinone and a steroid called clobetasol propionate, none of which were listed on the label. Another cream, Miss White, claimed to provide "Whiter Skin in 14 Days," but it contained double the allowable amount of hydroquinone. The distributors of these products denied any wrongdoing, stating that the tested samples were counterfeit.

Hidden ingredients Hidden ingredients - Image Source

Caro White, considered one of the most popular skin-lightening products globally, was also found to have more than double the permitted amount of hydroquinone. The Ivory Coast-based company, Dream Cosmetics, stated that the tested creams must have been counterfeit. These findings demonstrate the need for stricter regulations and monitoring of skin-whitening products sold in Canada.

The Risks of Mercury

One particularly alarming discovery was Goree Beauty Cream, which contained an extremely high level of mercury. In fact, one sample had more than 16,000 times the amount allowed by Health Canada. Mercury has been linked to carcinogenic effects and should not be available over the counter. Goree claimed that their products do not contain mercury and that the tested creams may have been knock-offs.

Risks of mercury Risks of mercury - Image Source

The Desire for Whiteness

The market for skin-lightening products is growing rapidly and expected to reach over $31 billion US by 2024. This trend is fueled by shadeism, a discrimination based on skin tone that values lighter skin as more desirable. Countless beauty products perpetuate this harmful message, creating a negative impact on individuals' self-esteem and perpetuating beauty standards that favor lighter skin.

Challenging Beauty Standards

One woman, Sabrina Manku, shared her personal journey of using skin-lightening creams from a young age. She believed that achieving lighter skin would make her more beautiful and successful. However, she eventually realized that these products were setting unattainable beauty standards and perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

Challenging beauty standards Challenging beauty standards - Image Source

Companies like Unilever, which owns Fair & Lovely, have faced criticism for their marketing strategies. While brands like Dove promote inclusivity and diversity, Fair & Lovely continues to market skin-lightening products with promises of dramatic transformations. The discrepancy between these brands' messages raises questions about their commitment to promoting self-worth and diversity.

Confronting the Reality

Skin lightening has a long history rooted in racist advertising and harmful beliefs about beauty. While some countries, such as South Africa and the United Kingdom, have banned over-the-counter products containing hydroquinone, Canada is still grappling with this issue. Health Canada has taken action by seizing unauthorized products and issuing warnings. Retailers have also started removing these creams from their shelves.

It's time to educate consumers and challenge the beauty standards that prioritize lighter skin. Embracing one's natural skin tone should be celebrated, and the dangerous use of skin-whitening products should be rejected. Let us learn from the stories of those who have experienced the negative effects of these creams and rally for stricter regulations to protect consumers from these hidden dangers.

Confronting the reality Confronting the reality - Image Source

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