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JA tackles risk of skin creams

Regional 11 May, 2023 1 Comments Follow News

Skin lightening creams are popular in Jamaica

The Jamaica government is campaigning with Gabon and Sri Lanka to combat damaging beauty practices, having launched a joint US$14 million project to eliminate the use of mercury in skin lightening products.

Using cosmetics to inhibit the body’s production of melanin, leading the skin to appear lighter, is a centuries-old practice in many parts of the world that continues to take a toxic toll today.

Both men and women use skin lightening products, not only to lighten their skin but to fade freckles, blemishes, age spots and treat acne. However, consumers are often unaware that many of these products contain harmful chemicals including mercury, a toxic substance which poses health risks and contaminates the environment.

Skin lightening products can cause  rashes and discolouration, scarring, nervous, damage the kidneys, digestive and immune system damage, as well as anxiety and depression. People who use skin products containing mercury have been found to have elevated mercury levels in their hair, blood, and urine. Pregnant women and women of child-bearing age should especially avoid exposure to mercury.

Skin lightening products don’t just pose a risk to the user – children can be exposed through breastmilk, and food chains can become contaminated when cosmetics are washed off into wastewater. Despite health scares, popularity of using skin lighteners is increasing, fuelled by celebrities who openly endorse using it.

With demand for skin lightening products projected to grow to $11.8 billion by 2026, fuelled by a growing middle class in the Asia-Pacific region and changing demographics in Africa and the Caribbean, the use of  harmful ingredients in skin lightening products is a global issue.

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Fiona Foster

12 May, 2023

Your report has no mention of HOW they are tackling this problem.