The BBC has found that several high-street shops are continuing to sell skin-whitening products such as creams, even after they were prosecuted for doing so. Trading Standards have acknowledged that it is a “really big problem”, as they are responsible for taking control of any creams and prosecuting businesses that are selling them. However, the businesses are not bothered by the fines and are continuing to sell the products.
Undercover, journalists visited 17 shops, 6 of which had previously been prosecuted, across places in the UK including Manchester, Leeds, London and Birmingham, to see if they were able to purchase any of the illegal and banned products. Out of the 6 previously prosecuted shops, 4 still sold the products. A shop in Greater Manchester sold 51 products that included the chemical hydroquinone, which can cause liver, nerve and foetal damage.
Several people who have used the creams in the past have spoken up about their experiences, saying that they experienced effects such as blisters, and some even had to be taken to hospital as they were near to losing their lives. Through speaking up about the dangers of these products, past users hope to educate people on why they should not use them, and hope to make sure that the products are no longer sold.
The fact that these products are so widely used shows the racism and prejudice that is still integrated into our society. Most of the past users were using these sorts of products during their teens because they felt like they weren’t beautiful enough in their own skin and wanted to “fit in”. It is time that we come together as a society and acknowledge other’s beauty, and do not discriminate because of race, or any other factor that does not define someone as a person.