The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is alerting the public that artisanal skin products (products that do not have labels to show that they are made by registered companies) marketed for skin-lightening, anti-aging or for the treatment of acne, obtained from out of country can contain harmful ingredients and should be avoided. The caution follows a health unit investigation into a local case of mercury poisoning.
“People need to be aware that out of country artisanal or unlabeled cosmetic skin creams marketed for skin-lightening, anti-aging or for the treatment of acne may contain unsafe and potentially toxic ingredients, including high concentrations of mercury,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s medical officer of health. “Travel and the abundance of online shopping platforms make it easy for people to access cosmetic and skin products that are restricted for use in Canada because they are unsafe.”
Mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal. When contained in artisanal products such as skin cream, mercury can easily transfer from containers to skin, other people and items in the home environment. Infants and children are at greatest risk from mercury exposure due to their developing brain and nervous system. Very young children can be at risk if a family member has been using the product, given the close skin-to-skin contact of young children with their family members.
People can keep themselves and their family safe by:
- avoiding purchasing artisanal cosmetic products marketed as skin-lightening, anti-aging or for treatment of acne when travelling outside of Canada, or on online marketplaces
- reading the ingredient lists on skin care products, and
- immediately discontinuing the use of any suspicious skin care products.
For more information on out of country artisanal skin products or mercury, call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or see www.simcoemuskokahealth.org.