Skin lightener campaign prosecution results

London Trading Standards have had more success in their campaign against High Street traders selling illegal and dangerous skin lightening products.

In recent months ten businesses have been ordered to pay fines and costs of over £126,000 for their involvement in the supply of cosmetics that either contain banned or restricted substances or failed to comply with safety rules on labelling and traceability.

Many of these products contained dangerously high levels of hydroquinone, mercury or corticosteroids which can result in a host of problems from skin thinning and discoloration to organ damage and even cancer in the long run.

Eight of the prosecutions follow a London wide trading standards cosmetic test purchasing programme last year which found that one in five skin lighteners sampled contained hydroquinone, and one in six contained significantly high levels of mercury. Both substances are prohibited.

In Southwark – the Directors of three businesses trading in Rye Lane, Peckham SE15, appeared at Camberwell Green Magistrates Court on 15th April. They each pleaded guilty to a variety of offences concerning the supply of skin lighteners and soaps containing prohibited ingredients or prescription only products after some 2,690 products were seized last year. They received fines and costs totalling just under £44,000. One of the products found, called ‘Grace Duo’, contained 18% hydroquinone – believed to be the highest amount ever found in such sampling. Total fines and costs were:

  • £19,143 – Fas Hair & Cosmetics Limited and Director
  • £15,200 – Peckham Hair & Cosmetics Limited & two Directors
  • £9,609 – Jinny’s Beauty Limited and Director

In Barking & Dagenham – four businesses were convicted in March at Barkingside Magistrates Court. Total fines and costs were over £50,000. One of the products found, called Faiza Beauty Cream, contained 0.54% mercury, a highly toxic element that accumulates in the body. Total fines and costs were:

  • £15,240 – Crystal Cosmetics (Dagenham) Limited and Director
  • £15,163 – Supergrows Cosmetics Limited of East Street Barking and Director
  • £14,950 – Beauty Queens Cosmetics (Barking) Limited of East Street Barking and two Directors
  • £5,050 – Sole trader R&T Cosmetics of the Heathway in Dagenham

In Newham – another branch of Supergrows Cosmetics Limited was also subject to enforcement action after being found to have infringing products. On 6th April, Thames Magistrates imposed fines and costs against the company and director totalling £12,097.

In Hackney two long running cases against Dalston based Beauty Queen Cosmetics Limited and Shaba Hair & Cosmetics Limited were finally resolved on 26th May at Snaresbrook Crown Court. Two Directors received suspended prison sentences and 100 hours community service each along with a total of £26,500 in fines and costs. The offences were committed in June 2013. They were also ordered to pay back a total of £3760.59 under the Proceeds of Crime Act and one was disqualified from being a Director for 4 years.

Steve Playle, a spokesperson for London Trading Standards said

“London Trading Standards are on the front line when it comes to enforcing product safety rules. These results demonstrate that despite shrinking officer numbers and reduced budgets our teams remain determined to tackle issues like illegal and dangerous cosmetics.

More cases are in the pipeline and these high fines will hopefully make those who put profits over the health of customers realise it just doesn’t pay. Traders really need to take their responsibilities seriously as consumers just don’t know how harmful these products can be. Our teams across London are always willing to help and advise businesses on compliance issues”

Very high levels of hydroquione were detected in Grace Duo

Very high levels of hydroquione were detected in Grace Duo

Faiza Beauty Cream was found to contain Mercury

Faiza Beauty Cream was found to contain Mercury