BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

28 October 2014
Inside Out

BBC Homepage

Contact Us

West Midlands

You are in: Inside Out > West Midlands > Illegal skin cream

Skin bleaching products

Skin bleaching products

Illegal skin cream

An investigation by Inside Out West Midlands has discovered that illegal skin creams are openly sold in beauty shops in Birmingham.

The creams, used for lightening the skin, contain toxic substances that can do permanent damage.

Some of the products sold illegally

Some of the products sold illegally

We see just how easy it is to buy these creams and find out what is being done to take them off the shelves.

For Black and Asian women who would like fairer skin, there are ranges of creams available that can be used to lighten their complexion.

Most are legal to use, but Inside Out has found that illegal products containing banned chemicals are extremely easy to obtain.

Banned ingredients sold

Inside Out researchers visited a selection of beauty shops in North Birmingham.

They found that four of these shops were selling a number of products containing Hydroquinone – a banned bleaching agent.

One skin-lightening product even contained ammoniated mercury.

In every case, the sales staff was more than happy to sell these products to our researchers.

In just three hours, they had picked up 18 illegal products.

Sujata Jolly is a scientist

Sujata Jolly describes damage by creams

Danger to skin

Are they that bad? Serena has been using illegal products for the last couple of years.

The products seemed to work, but when Inside Out took her to see a doctor, she discovered that she had damaged her skin and in some areas had actually darkened it.

He told her that it would take weeks or even months for her skin to return to normal.

In more severe cases using these creams can do permanent damage and significantly increase the risk of contracting skin cancer.

Chris Neville, Birmingham Trading Standards

Chris Neville: Trading Standards to investigate

Products removed

As a result of the Inside Out investigation three of the shops have now taken the products from their shelves – claiming they had no idea they were illegal.

The fourth refused to respond.

Trading standards have now begun an investigation into the sale of banned creams in Birmingham.

Also featured

Diving the Carpathia

If the Titanic is the most famous liner in history, then the Carpathia must be the most famous rescue ship.

In 1912, its captain risked everything to come to the aid of the sinking Titanic. Three years later she was torpedoed in the Atlantic and sank.

Now, nearly a century later a small group of brave divers have risked their lives to visit this famous wreck.

Search for justice

There are few crimes as harrowing for the victim as rape.

Inside Out has discovered that in one part of the Midlands less than 1 in 100 rapes are ever solved.

Most women who have been raped never talk about it in public.

Inside Out West Midlands meets a woman who has been campaigning on behalf of people like herself.

Tabatha Brice’s search for answers takes her to all the people involved in the prosecution of rapists… and helps her understand what more can be done to bring them to justice.

last updated: 15/10/07

You are in: Inside Out > West Midlands > Illegal skin cream

Watch Inside Out again via iPlayer
Natures top 40


About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy