Illegal skin lightening creams found on sale in England and Wales

2020/08/25 14:02

Today's Vocabulary

1.prescription (n)
a piece of paper on which a  doctor writes the details of the medicine or drugs that someone needs

2. suspicious (adj)
making you feel that something illegal is happening or that something is wrong

3. genuine (adj)
being what something or someone appears or claims to be; real, not false

4. illicit (adj) 
illegal or disapproved of by society

5. ingredients (n) 
a food that is used with other foods in the preparation of a particular dish 

6. councils (n) 
a group of people elected or chosen to make decisions or give advice on a particular subject, to represent a particular group of people, or to run a particular organization 

7. retailers (n)
a person, shop, or business that sells goods to the public

Illegal skin lightening creams found on sale in England and Wales

A growing number of retailers are selling dangerous skin lightening creams that can “act like paint strippers”, councils have said.

The Local Government Association said the products should be avoided at all costs after recent seizures by trading standards officers. They said the highly toxic creams could increase the risk of cancer.

Simon Blackburn, the chair of the Local Government Association’s safer and stronger communities board, said: “Skin creams containing banned ingredients are very dangerous and could seriously damage your health, scar you for life and even kill you, so they should be avoided at all costs.

“Consumers should always check the ingredients of their skin creams, be suspicious of very low prices which are likely to indicate the lotion is fake and potentially harmful, and never use a product containing hydroquinone. If the product doesn’t display the ingredients at all, then don’t use it.”

Unless they are issued on prescription by a doctor, creams containing hydroquinone – described as the biological equivalent of paint stripper – steroids or mercury are banned in the UK because of their potentially serious side-effects.

Hydroquinone can remove the top layer of skin, increasing the risk of skin cancer, and cause fatal liver and kidney damage. Mercury can cause similar life-threatening health problems.

Genuine skin-lightening creams can be expensive to buy, which is why illegal, toxic versions are flooding the market as they are cheap and relatively easy to create, the LGA warned.

Lisa Bickerstaffe, a spokeswoman for the British Skin Foundation, said the issue of illegal skin lightening creams came up “year after year”. She said: “It’s difficult to know whether the problem is increasing due to the illicit way the products are sold under the counter and online.

“Ingredients in these cosmetics can cause serious health problems and the British Skin Foundation strongly advises against using them.”


  1. What association in the UK warned against skin-lightening creams?
  2. What did the LGA say the skin-lightening creams contained?
  3. For how long did the LGA ask some creams could scar people?
  4. What kind of cancer could the creams cause?

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