Long-term skin damage worries
Health and beauty industry insiders in the country have addressed concerns surrounding the safety and manufacture of skin whitening cream products, as many are formulated with dominant steroids and a high number of toxic metals.
Consumers demand skin whitening products that help them achieve fairer complexions intensifies. As such, Masarrat Misbah, who leads The Depilex SmileAgain Foundation — an organisation that treats and rehabilitates acid-attack survivors and is an experienced beautician — emphasises the increasing frequency of this belief.
“This problem has reached alarming levels and taken the form of an epidemic. Now, we are seeing girls belonging to the northern areas, who naturally have a fairer complexion, using such products and ruining their facial skin,” said Masarrat Misbah, CEO, Depilex SmileAgain Foundation.
Last year, the national group for forming and adopting public health safety standards, Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), completed the PS-3228/2016 standard, which directly relates to skin creams.
This newly-finalised standard currently enables skin cream manufacturers to freely implement manufacturing practices that correspond with global standards.
The industry now argues that these standards should become mandatory to ensure that both Pakistani consumers and the cosmetics industry are protected from harmful inclusions.
Voluntary to mandatory standards
Recent reports published in the Pakistani media have highlighted the damage attributed to great levels of substances that are typically banned in cosmetics around the globe, or are restricted, including mercury, lead, arsenic, and hydroquinone.
Although at present, manufacturers can voluntarily choose whether to update their own procedures, failing to do may adversely affect trade relations.
“Over the last few years, doctors across Pakistan have witnessed an increasing number of skin diseases resulting from the prolonged use of substandard skin whitening creams, which has been verified by research done by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Islamabad,” stated Misbah.
Media reports in Pakistan are now bringing to light these issues. Ibrar Hussain, an expert in cosmetics who also belongs to the PSQCA committees, has been reported as emphasising how The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan has to date not considered this issue as there is no law in Pakistan that bans the sale of adverse cosmetics.