Trading standards officers in Surrey have seized hundreds of illegal skin-lightening products containing an ingredient linked to cancer.
They have confiscated two consignments of potentially dangerous cosmetics in the space of a few weeks after they were brought into the country from Nigeria through Heathrow Airport.
The products were seized because they contain the skin-bleaching ingredient hydroquinone which is banned in Britain and across the European Union. Cosmetics made with the chemical are thought to increase the risk of skin cancer by exposing the skin to more of the sun’s rays and are also linked to thinning and discoloration of the skin as well as liver and nerve damage.
The two consignments of cosmetics – seized earlier this year – contained a total of 385 creams, oils and soaps with brand names such as White Express, Skin Light, Clear Essence, Clinic Clear and Caro White.
The cosmetics were destined for importers in south London but trading standards officers will prevent them ever reaching consumers.
They were intercepted at Heathrow by customs officials before being sent to a trading standards inspection point in Surrey.
Steve Ruddy, head of Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards*, said: “Cosmetics like these have been banned in Britain since 2001 and yet we’re still uncovering attempts to ply a trade in them at the expense of people’s health.
“Working with border force staff, we’ll continue doing all we can to keep people safe from products such as these potentially life-threatening creams and stop them ending up in stores or being sold online in this country.”
*Surrey County Council and Buckinghamshire County Council operate a joint trading standards service.