Toxic Skin Whitening Products

Mercury is a dangerous skin lightening ingredient
Some skin lightening ingredients work extremely well in the short-term, but are dangerous to our well-being and the long-term health of our skin. Mercury is one of them.

History of mercury use in skin lightening creams
Mercury absorption into the body and organs via the skin

The use of mercury in commercial skin bleaching creams and soaps goes back to the early 1900s. Before 1970, commercial bleaching creams would normally use ammoniated mercury to produce a lightening effect on the skin. These bleaching creams were aggressively marketed to black people in the US.

In 1976, the use of mercury in cosmetic products was banned in the EU. The US banned the use of mercury in skin bleaching creams much later in 1990.

Mercury absorption into the body via the skin

Mercury and mercurial compounds can be absorbed into the body by inhalation of the vapors, ingestion, or skin contact. As a poison, the damaging effects of mercury are subtle and cumulative, building up over time.

When absorbed, mercury has been discovered in blood, urine, bile, sweat, saliva, milk, and in pus on the surface of ulcers. It has also been discovered in the solids after death, in the brain, the bones, the cellular tissue, in serous membranes, in the parts close to the joints, and in the lungs and liver.

Mercury’s effects on the skin and overall health (symptoms of mercury poisoning / excessive mercury)

Mercury can be extremely effective in lightening dark spots and stubborn pigmentation but has a high spontaneous remission rate (in a number of people, the original pigmentation returns once the treatment is stopped).

The symptoms of mercury poisoning include emotional disturbances, unsteadiness, inflammation of the mouth and gums, general fatigue, memory loss, forgetfulness and headaches. There can also be behavioural and personality changes such as irritability, low self-confidence, depression, unusual shyness and timidity (including fear and discomfort during normal social situations).

Excess mercury in the system has also been known to cause kidney problems (membranous nephropathy), tremors and muscle spasms.

Skin contact with mercury compounds can lead to irritation, including patches of inflammation and the appearance of tiny bumps close together. These bumps may burst and discharge matter, which later crusts over leading to soreness and discomfort.

Essential Reading: What to do if you’ve been poisoned by mercury

Skin lightening products with dangerous levels of mercury

While the use of mercury in skin lightening creams have been banned for some time now, they are still produced and sold in lightly-regulated markets. Below is a list of known skin lightening creams that contain dangerous levels of mercury (more than 1 ppm or one part per million).

The list of creams, lotions and soaps below are just the ones I’ve found, so it’s not an inclusive list.

I update this list regularly. If you know of a cream, lotion or soap that has tested positive for mercury, let me know in the comments section below.

List of creams, lotions and soaps reported to contain mercury (updated regularly with newest additions at the top)

Night Glowing (link to article)
Glowing Speed Gold Day Cream and Glowing Speed Gold Night Cream
Nour Ain Night Cream
Royal Expert Whitening Cream
Royal Expert Whitening Cream (link to article with photo)
Maxi Claire (this entry and the following up to “Elegance Soap” are listed as containing mercury in the Uganda government’s pre-export standards data sheet on page 8)
Shiny Beauty cream
Top Claire Plus
Caro derm
Skin Light
Carro 7
Rapid Clair
Beauty Lotion Shinny
Yes To / Yes To lotion
Bio 21 Jours
Bio liss
Caro Top lotion
New Shirley Medicated
Top lemon
Pimplex Medicated
Top Claire Plus
Uniderm Soap
Djarabi Soap
Jaribu Soap
Skin Light Soap
Super Family Soap
Binti Jambo Soap
Baby and Maman Soap
Movate Soap
Amira Soap
La Bamakoise Savon Tamarin Soap
Miki Soap
Mekako Soap
Rico Soap
Tura Soap
Jaribu Soap
Acura Soap
Fair Lady Soap
Elegance Soap
Mireya and Nene Gardoqui (potentially linked to mercury poisoning in a child)
Jiachuntang Ban Gan Jing Qu Ban Shuang (link to article with photos)
Lan Mei Rou 12-Day Whitening and Speckle Removing Suit
Yangqian Fashion Care Skin Strong Whitening & Spot Removing Package
Crema Piel De Seda (Silky Skin Cream) by Viansilk (link to FDA warning)
Qu Puteh Whitening Pro 9 or Qu Puteh Kosmetik Whitening Pro 9 cream (link to article with photos)
Qu Puteh Whitening UV Block or Qu Puteh Kosmetik Whitening UV Block
Meiyong Super Whitening (link to article with photos)
Yunxi New skin whitening 4 in 1 Suit (link to press release)
Yunxi New skin whitening Pearl Cream (9,200 mg/kg of mercury detected)
Yunxi New skin whitening Night Cream (16,000 mg/kg of mercury detected)
Collagen Night Cream (link to article)
Xuefujiaolan Herbal Whitening and Embellish Classic Set (link to article)
Mifton 7 Days Beauty Freckle Whitening Repair Set (link to article)
BG Sea Pearl and Papaya Natural Essence 6 days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream (link to article)
BG Ginseng and Ganoderma Lucidum 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream
Yinni Green Tea Quickacting Whitener and Speckle Remover Package
Yin Ni Whitener Repair Cream (link to article)
Santen cosmetic cream (link to article)
LiLiki Whitening Day Cream / Cream 911 (link to article)
Erna Whitening Cream (link to article)
Aroma Magic Fairy Lotion (link to article)
Olay Natural White (made by Procter and Gamble India, link to article)
Ponds White Beauty (made by Hindustan Unilever, link to article)
Monsepa Bleaching Express Peeling (link to article)
Top Shirley Nourishing Cream (link to article)
Angela Placenta Whitening Cream (Tender Skin & Whitening)
Youngrace Age Defying Essence (link to article)
Angel Placenta Whitening Cream (link to article)
Sanli Eliminating Freckle Cream
Sanli Eliminating Freckle Cream Plus Complex Vitamin C & E
LMSER Whitening Cream
Care Skin Strong Whitening and Spot Removing pack
Huayuenong 12 Days Whitening and Speckle Removing set
White Advance Hydroxytyrosol L-Glutathione Whitening and Antiaging Cream
Zhjren 7-Day beauty elegant moisturizing and whitening day cream
Zhjren Whitening Ruddy Combination Suit
White Magnolia Intensive Repair Essence Powerful Spot Remover
Roopamrit (link to article)
Seven Herbal Ubtan (link to UK product recalls + alternative pdf download, OAS alert with pictures, link to article)
Melati UV – Whitening Vit. E Cream (link to article with photos)
Esther Bleaching Cream (A) and (B) (link to article with photos)
Gakadi freckle removing cream
Natural Orange Whitening and Anti-Aging Package
Hengxueqian Whitening Set
Cellnex Anti-Sensitive Essence Treatment (contains betamethasone and mercury; link to article)
SF Beauty Night Cream (Facial) and SF Beauty Day Cream (Facial) (contains betamethasone and mercury)
Wiana Whitening Beauty Cream (source for this and the next 11 creams: Buckinghamshire County Council — opens a pdf with photos of the creams and their mercury levels / alternate link)
Pai Mei whitening spot cream (30,167 ppm of mercury! link to article 1 / 2)
Caike Red Ginseng (link to article)
Goree Whitening Cream
Faiza Beauty Cream / Faiza No 1 Beauty Cream
Golden Pearl Beauty Cream (4,750 mg/kg of mercury; link to RAPEX notification)
Face Fresh Beauty Cream (4,620 mg/kg mg/kg of mercury; link to RAPEX notification)
Fresh Look Ultra Whitening Fairness Cream (3,500mg/kg mg/kg of mercury; link to RAPEX notification)
Raj Beauty Cream (470 mg/kg of mercury; link to RAPEX notification)
Seven Herbal Ubtan (620 mg/kg of mercury; link to RAPEX notification)
Formula AA Arched Pearl Crème
Fair and Lovely Forever Glow / Fair and Lovely Anti Marks Cream
Gipsey Amazing Cream
Olivia Crème for Unwanted Hair
Seven Herbal Wrinkle de Crease
Brite Face Cream (link to article)
Due Whitening Cream
Wiana Whitening Cream
Feique Whitening Anti-Freckle Cream (link to article)
Feique Golden Aloe Whitening Anti-Scar, Anti-Freckle Set
Feique Green Tea Vital Whitening Freckle Removing Cream
Bai Li Tou Hong (has 46,700 ppm of mercury!)
Maidaifu Herbal Moisturizing and Whitening Cream (60,800 ppm of mercury!)
Yu Dan Tang Green Cucumber and Ginseng 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Set
Loreial Paris Anti-Freckle Cream
Yu Dan Tang / Yudantang Ginseng and Ganoderma Lucidum 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream
Yu Dan Tang / Yudantang Ginseng and Green Cucumber 10 Days Whitening Speckles Removed Essence
Yu Dan Tang / Yudantang 10 Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot and Double Whitening Sun Block Cream
Yu Dan Tang / Yudantang Aloe Pearl 10-Day Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream
Yu Dan Tang / Yudantang 10 Days Sheep Essence & Ginseng
Aichun Beauty Green Tea Whitening Speckle Removing Series (3-in-1)
Aichun Beauty Strongly Whitening Freckle Series (3-in-1)
Aichun Beauty Pawpaw Whitening and Freckle Remover Series (3-in-1)
Aichun Beauty Aloe Vera Whitening and Speckle Removing Series
Yuchun Hanfang (link to article)
Tongrentang Yisheng Whitening and Freckle Removal Cream (link to article)
Hua Ma ABC – Hua Ma Day Cream and Hua Ma Night Cream (link to article)
Jiaoli (link with more information and pictures and 2007 FDA import alert on Jiaoli from
Other names
Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set Cream
Jiaoli Miraculous Cream
Jiao Li 10-Days Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set
Jiaoli Huichunsu Whitening Speckles Removal Cream
Jiaoli Huichunsu Special Cut Genuine Cream
Xin Jiao Li 7-Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream
Jiaoli Rejuvenation Essence 10 days speckle removing
Jiaoli Speckle Dispelling and Whitening Cream
Jiaoli Huichunsu Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream
Jiaoli Herbs Essence Whitening AB Set
Similar products with possibly different packaging (appears to be from the same company, Harbin Gelidai Jiaobao Cosmetics)
Jiao Liang Miraculous Cream
Xin Jiao Liang 7-Days Miracle Package for Spots Refining
Jiao Mei Miraculous Cream
Jiao Yan Specific Miraculous Cream
Jiao Li Extra Pearl Facial Cream
Mui Lee Hiang – Cream for Acne & Blemishes (link with picture)
Natural 99 yellow cream – day cream, Natural 99 white cream – night cream (link with pictures)
Rose Super White Whitening Essence (link with picture)
Whitening Sunblock Cream – Day Cream (link with picture)
EMEL SKIN CARE CO. No. 8 (link with picture)
Dermaline (link to 2009 FDA Import Alert for creams containing mercury)
Miss Key Whitening Cream / Crema Bianqueadora Miss Key (link to 2009 FDA Import Alert for creams containing mercury)
Santa Cream / Crema Santa (link to 2009 FDA Import Alert for creams containing mercury)
Mannig Beauty Cream / Manning Cream De Belleza
8% mercury by weight
Link to 2009 FDA Import Alert for creams containing mercury
Bioactive Facial Enlightening Activator
Day and Night UV Expert
Jin Sheng Mei (link with picture)
Ginseng (Extra Pearl Cream)
Orrefor (Extra Pearl Cream)
Pally (Nourishing Cream)
Butae (Pearl Cream)
Silvana cream
Ly-NA (Nourish face cream)
ALFA (Extra Pearl cream)
Yin Fong (Extra Pearl cream)
Diana Cream
April 2009 – Import refusal report by FDA for Diana Cream and Acne Soap because of “unapproved new drug”, Refusal AC1-6395152-1/38/1/. Unfortunately, no lab sample analysis was done.
April 1997 – Article referencing Canada’s alert on Diana Cream’s mercury content
Civic (Nourishing cream)
Ideal cream (listed as having contained mercury in this report by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute; page 53)
Cing-Cing (Roon Petch)
Daifu (Herbal formula/pearl cream)
Cream Minerva
Stillmann’s Freckle Cream
Has 39,000 mg/kg of mercury!
Link to the EC’s Rapid Alert notification with picture
Fasco Herbal Cream
Has 440 mg/kg of mercury
Link to the EC’s Rapid Alert notification with picture
Link to the Hong Kong government’s press release
Shabright Clear and Bright Skin Formula
LuLanJina (white and yellow cream)
Ling Ji Su (white and yellow cream)
St. Dalfour Cream
2007 US FDA import refusal report
2010 FDA ban for containing dangerous levels of mercury (See article 1, article 2, article 3)
Miss Beauty Magic Cream
Has 28,600 ppm of mercury!
JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream
Flower Woman 7-Day Whitening and Spot and Night Set Cream
Sara Glutathione Sheep Placenta Whitening and Anti-Spot Cream
Beauty Girl Natural Olive and Sheep Essence 10-Day Double Whitening Cream
Other products from the same company Yudantang International, Taiwan (also contains mercury)
Beauty Girl Papaya & Hawthorne Essence
Beauty Girl Ginseng & Green Cucumber
Beauty Girl Essence Aloe Pearl
Beauty Girl Double White SPF17AP Whitening Cream
Beauty Girl Egg White and Tomato 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream
Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream (violet and old rose packaging)
Aichun Beauty Green Tea Whitening Speckle Removing Series Cream
Aichun Beauty Whitening Freckle Day and Night Cream
Shengli Day & Night Cream
Doctor Bai Skin Revitalizing Skin Brightening
Qiang Li Zeng Bai Qu Ban Wang whitening cream
S’zitang 7-Day Specific Whitening and Spot AB Set Cream
S’zitang Cream
S’zitang 10 Days Eliminating Freckle Day and Night Set
S’zitang 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set
Yoko Gentleman Cream for men
Jonathan clearing facial spots 12-day cream
Gemli Glutathione Hydrolyzed Collagen whitening & anti-aging
Gemli Glutathione Grapeseed Extract Whitening and Anti-Aging
Gemli Freckles Cream
Gemli Beauty Series Freckles Cream Plus Placenta Extract
Qian Mei – white cream and yellow cream
Cream Aghader
Savon pour L’acné Diana soap
Lemon Herbal Whiting Cream
33,000 ppm of mercury!
Sensual Whitening Cream (link to article)
Crema Aguamary face cream and eye cream
Link with picture
Crema Antiedad y Desmanchadora
Nearly identical to “Crema Aguamary” above. Has 130,000 times the FDA limit for mercury.
Article with news video
Long Dian Tu Glutathione Pearl Natural Whitening Essence Cream
Feique Rose Refining Nourishing Set Cream
Feique Herbal Extract Whitening Antifreckle Set
Lianglibai Qingbanxuejizuhetaozhuang Cream
Pretty Model Whitening and Freckle Removing Cream
Women of Flower Whitening and Speckle Removing AB Series Cream
Lamb Placenta Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream
Forever Beauty 10-Day Special Cream
New Baijiasi Whitening Night Cream
Medicam Bleach Cream (38,800 mg/kg of mercury; link to RAPEX notification)
Published reports of mercury found in skin creams

Many government websites also contain lists of banned cosmetics and soaps that contain mercury. For example, The Kenya Bureau of Standards has a list of banned products containing mercury (see pdf). The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) also has a list of skin creams that exceeded the FDA limit for mercury upon testing.

In 2004, New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducted an investigation and had the mercury content of several store-bought skin-lightening products analysed (see page 3 of this pdf for the product list and their mercury content).

In May 2010, the Chicago Tribune had 50 skin-lightening creams tested at a lab (most of the creams were bought in stores, a few were ordered online). Six were found to contain illegal amounts of mercury. You can check the Chicago Tribune’s findings in this detailed list containing the names of these creams and the levels of mercury they contained (download pdf).

In August 2011, Philippine watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition conducted a test of 12 brands of whitening creams. 11 tested positive for high levels of mercury (download pdf). Later in October 2011, the same group screened 25 brands and found that 19 contained 1,395 ppm to 52,100 ppm of mercury (none listed mercury as an ingredient).

In 2016, a study by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) analysed skin whitening creams for mercury content and investigated the health threats and use of such creams among consumers.

Appearance and packaging

Most skin lightening creams containing mercury are either white or yellow in color.

Unscrupulous manufacturers can also easily change their product names and packaging to evade the authorities. The packaging for skin whitening creams containing mercury would also usually not list mercury as one of its ingredients, although sometimes ‘calomel’ is listed (calomel is mercurous chloride, a type of mercury).

Unlabeled or homemade products are also suspect

In one case, skin lightening creams sold in white plastic jars with no labels were found to contain 5.6% or 56,000 ppm of mercury (2010/11 Health Alert from California’s Department of Public Health, with picture).

In another case, sellers of the banned St. Dalfour whitening cream not only stole an existing European jam company’s brand name St. Dalfour for themselves, but also reused the company’s jam jars! Perhaps most shockingly is that these startling facts aren’t enough to deter everyone.

Skin whitening forums are rife with sellers insisting they have the “real” St Dalfour whitening cream, as opposed to the “fake” ones. All without a trace of irony.

Aggressive behavior by online sellers of banned creams

Read these two comment threads (thread 1) (thread 2) for examples of a typical banned cream seller’s spiel. Be sure to read the entire threads as they’re excellent examples of the aggressive online tactics used by shady sellers of banned whitening creams.

Initial flattery, assurances, over-the-top promises, and finally, passive aggressiveness, feigned “hurt”, intimidation, mockery or insults when they don’t get their own way. This is their modus operandi.