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Smuggled Mexican Skin Creams Contain Mercury

Health Officials Go Undercover to Find Mercury-Laced Skin Cream

We're happy to present this article from our friends at Allure:

California health officials are going undercover to find the distributors of smuggled Mexican skin creams containing dangerous levels of mercury. The creams are mainly skin lighteners, since mercury removes pigment. The tainted cosmetics are brought into in the country illegally and sold surreptitiously at pharmacies, shops, and swap meets. To find out more about the dangers of these surreptitiously tainted creams, just keep reading.

The Center for Disease Control partnered with the California Department of Public Health to study the effects of mercury-laced creams, which have been available in California and Virginia for years, and found concentrations of between five and six percent of the heavy metal. The agencies monitored 22 women who used the products and found those who applied the creams twice a day had the highest levels of mercury poisoning, exhibiting symptoms like headaches, forgetfulness, and depression. Mercury poisoning can damage the nervous system and the kidneys and affect mood and personality.

The problem is not isolated to California and Virginia: Minnesota and Illinois have seen an influx of smuggled beauty creams containing mercury in larger cities. According to the Minnesota Health Department, the creams are primarily sold in African, Asian, Latino and Middle Eastern communities.

Yikes. In an era of toxic Brazilian blowouts and increased lead in lipstick, we're monitoring our beauty products more than ever. But foreign-made, illegally-distributed products are, of course, much harder to track. Have you ever bought a beauty product under the counter? What made you buy it? Tell us in the comments.

More from Allure:
Is Lipstick Really Hazardous to Your Health?
Who Wants to Smell Like a World Champion?
Can a High SPF Sunscreen Be a Dangerous Thing?
How Celebrities Get Flawless Oscars Skin

Image Source: Thinkstock
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Join The Conversation
Annie-Tomlin Annie-Tomlin 3 years
 @Marian55 A lot of people do. Where did you get the idea?
Marian55 Marian55 3 years
I have, I'll admit. I buy Retin-A and Latisse from another country because I couldn't afford it if I had to get it here in the US.
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