It has been decades since we have seen skincare industries promoting the beauty perceived with having fairer skin with models and products. And so many Malaysian women are still obsessed with obtaining fairer skin, some of them even willing to venture into trying skincare products that promise them fairer and glower skin in just two weeks!
What we are worry about here is that any skincare products that can make you fair in such a short time are always associated with mercury. Mercury is inexpensive, effectively removes dark spots and lightens your skin. But mercury is very harmful to your health, and our government has banned few products that contain mercury.
How does mercury work in beauty products? Let’s find out!
Mercury: Where Do You Find It in Cosmetics and Skincare Products?
Inorganic mercury and organic mercury are both toxic and dangerous! However, inorganic compounds are more harmful than organic compounds. Inorganic mercury is the one that is used in skin lightening soaps and creams.
Mercury in skincare products inhibits the formation of melanin, resulting in lighter skin tone, with the promises of reducing pigmentation, dark spots, and freckles. It can also be found in antiseptic soaps! Do be more aware and alert when purchasing antiseptic soap and watch out for mercury.
Organic mercury compounds are used as cosmetic preservatives in eye makeup cleansing products and mascara. It is used to help elongate the shelf life of a product. However, due to the increase of awareness against mercury and its adverse health reaction, some manufacturers are no longer using mercury as a preservative in mascaras and eye makeup cleansing products.
The main adverse effect of the use of inorganic mercury found in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage, as stated by the World Health Organization (WHO). Some mercury compounds can be absorbed through the skin when applied topically. It can accumulate in the body and may result in allergic reactions, skin irritation, or worse, neurotoxicity.
What Harm Can Mercury Do To Us?
Chronic exposure and accumulation to mercury compounds can result in a variety of symptoms and adverse reactions. Below are the top 22 harmful symptoms of mercury overdose in cosmetics and skincare products on what it can do to us.
- Memory loss
- Changes in hearing, vision, and taste
- Kidney damage
- Skin rashes
- Skin discoloration
- Reduction in skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections
- Nerve damage: pain or numbness in the hands, arms, legs, and feet
- Liver damage
It is highly advised for pregnant mums to avoid using products that contain mercury as mercury has a tendency to accumulate in one’s body. Its adverse health reaction may cause pregnancy complications and may increase the risk of development problems in infants. It is also easily transferred to infants, babies and, children through breastmilk, making them easily exposed to a higher risk of brain and nervous systems damage. Therefore, it is very important for them not to be exposed as their brains and nervous systems are still developing.
How do I know if my beauty products contain mercury?
When it comes to mercury, you have to be extra careful in using beauty products that promotes skin lightening and anti-ageing. Try to look at the label and if the words “mercurous chloride”, “calomel”, “mercuric”, “mercurio”, or “mercury” are listed then mercury's in it and you should stop using the product immediately.
Safer option for skin lightening
Instead of mercury, our dermatologist has suggested Kojic Acid and Vitamin C for skin lightening. Kojic acid is a skin-lightener made by bacteria. Yes, no kidding. It’s a by-product of the fermentation process of rice that’s used for sake, the Japanese rice wine.
Kojic acid is very safe as it has been in almost all of Japanese food, like soy, miso and strawberries. The Japanese believe it has antioxidant properties that help fight free radicals, which are the nasty molecules that give you wrinkles, dark spots, and other ugly diseases.
Meanwhile, Vitamin C is the powerful antioxidant ingredient that helps reduce skin inflammation, irregular pigmentation, and promotes healthy collagen production. "Vitamin C is a key component to many skin-brightening regimens, as it interferes with pigment production and keeps inflammation at bay," Dr. Ingky says. Furthermore, Vitamin C may even help protect the skin from pre-cancerous changes from UV light exposure by neutralizing free radicals.
More harm than meets the eye..
Because of mercury's adverse effects on consumers’ health, nearly 200 beauty products have been banned by Malaysian authorities since 2008. This due to the fact that they contain unhealthy levels of mercury and other toxic ingredients such as hydroquinone, which is a bleaching agent. Malaysia only allows products to contain up to 1 parts per million, or ppm, of mercury. This is in line with the standard set by the World Health Organization.
Would you like to know more about skin health? We are here to help! Skynfyx is run by a group of skin doctors and skincare experts who want everybody to achieve flawless skin at the cheapest possible cost. Skynfyx also can customize a skincare range just for your skin condition.