HSA Alert: Two Creams in the ‘Glow Glowing’ Cosmetic Set Sold Online Found to Contain Very High Mercury Levels & Other Potent Prohibited Ingredients

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) is alerting members of the public not to purchase or use ‘Glow Glowing Skincare 4 in 1’ cosmetic set which contains the ‘Night Glowing’ cream and ‘Night Glow’ cream. The ‘Night Glowing’ cream was tested by HSA to contain high levels of mercury exceeding the permissible limits by more than 25,000 times. This amount of mercury can pose a serious health hazard to consumers. The ‘Night Glow’ cream was found to contain tretinoin and hydroquinone, both prohibited and potent ingredients. The amount of hydroquinone detected in ‘Night Glow’ was three times higher than the concentrations found in products used for skin treatments.

2      This finding was a result of investigating into a feedback from a member of public who got suspicious when the whitening effect was too immediate after using these products.

3      Both products were sold on various online platforms and were marketed for skin brightening and whitening, and to help reduce pimples. Although only these two products within the ‘Glow Glowing Skincare 4 in 1’ cosmetic set were found to contain very high mercury levels and other prohibited ingredients, consumers who have purchased or are using the ‘Glow Glowing Skincare 4 in 1’ cosmetic set or other cosmetic sets containing these two creams are advised to stop using the entire set as a precautionary measure. Please refer to Annex A for pictures of the products. 

Safety Concerns

4      Mercury is a toxic substance and is prohibited for use as an ingredient in cosmetic products. Regular application of creams containing mercury could lead to rash, skin discolouration and blotching. Chronic exposure to very high levels of mercury in cosmetic products may also cause toxic effects to the kidneys, digestive and nervous system, as it can be absorbed through the skin. This could lead to organ damage.

5      Hydroquinone and tretinoin are potent ingredients that are used in western prescription medicines for the treatment of skin conditions. These ingredients are prohibited in skincare cosmetic products and should only be used under medical supervision, as they may cause harmful effects if not used properly. The inappropriate use of hydroquinone could result in changes in skin colour and hypersensitivity reactions such as rashes, redness, tingling and burning of skin. Inappropriate use of tretinoin could lead to redness and peeling of the skin.

Consumer advisory

6      Members of the public are advised to:

  • Stop using the ‘Glow Glowing Skincare 4 in 1’ cosmetic set and other cosmetic sets containing the ‘Night Glowing’ cream and ‘Night Glow’ cream immediately. 
  • See a doctor if they are experiencing adverse effects following the use of the affected products. 
  • Exercise discretion in the purchase of cosmetic products, including those purchased from online sources. They should purchase cosmetic products from reliable and reputable sources. Unlike other consumables, the use of poor quality and falsely labelled health products including cosmetics can cause serious health effects as they may contain undeclared ingredients harmful to health.
  • Visit www.healthdangers.sg to learn more about the dangers of buying illegal health products from questionable sources.

Advisory to sellers of cosmetic products

7      HSA is working with online platforms to remove the products from their websites. Sellers must stop selling the ‘Night Glowing’ and ‘Night Glow’ creams immediately, both in their individual form and as a cosmetic set such as the ‘Glow Glowing Skincare 4 in 1’ cosmetic set. Sellers have the responsibility to ensure that the cosmetic products they are selling are safe for use and comply with Singapore’s regulatory requirements for the sale and supply of cosmetic products, including the absence of prohibited substances.

8      HSA will take action against anyone found selling the affected creams. Anyone who supplies illegal health products is liable to prosecution and if convicted, may be imprisoned for up to three years and/or fined up to $100,000.

9      Members of the public who have any information on the sale and supply of these products ‘may contact HSA's Enforcement Branch at Tel: 6866-3485 during office hours (Monday to Friday) or email: hsa_is@hsa.gov.sg.

18 JULY 2017

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