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Skin whitening cream may contain mercury, and lipstick may contain chromium and nickel, Indian study shows

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 05 February 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1330
  1. Cheryl Travasso
  1. 1Mumbai

A study that looked at levels of heavy metals in Indian cosmetics has shown that about 44% of the fairness (skin whitening) creams tested contained mercury and that chromium or nickel were present in over 50% of the lipsticks tested.1

The Pollution Monitoring Laboratory at the Centre for Science and Environment—a New Delhi based non-government organisation—tested over 70 different lipsticks, lip balms, anti-ageing creams, and fairness creams. The manufacturers were reputable brands including Lakmé, L’Oréal, Olay, Lancôme, and Maybelline.

Of the 32 fairness creams tested, 14 contained mercury. Aroma Magic Fair Lotion (by Blossom Kochhar Beauty Products) contained 1.97 ppm total mercury, Olay Natural White (by Procter & Gamble Home Products) contained 1.79 ppm, and Ponds White Beauty (by Hindustan Unilever) contained 1.36 ppm.

Neither lead nor cadmium was found in any of the lip …

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