Danger in disguise: Experts warn against fake beauty products

Toxic ingredients can cause health problems like skin cancer

APP August 27, 2018

ISLAMABAD: With purchases becoming as easy as clicking on a computer screen or tapping on your phone, medical experts on Sunday warned the public about the dangers of buying fake beauty products.

Senior Dermatologist Dr Hiba Javed said that counterfeit and low-quality cosmetic products sold in markets, discount stores and at online stores are fast turning into a mini-booming economy.

However, she warned that this comes at the cost of endangering the health of consumers and high medical bills.

Dr Javed said that nowadays everyone loves to get a good deal, which means too-good-to-be-true discounts on products, either online or on the street, are hard to resist.

However, she said that what may appear to be a good deal may, in fact, include counterfeit beauty products.

She elaborated that consumers are reporting a number of symptoms from using counterfeit makeup such as eye infections, allergic reactions, skin rashes, swollen lips and even chemical burns.

In the worst cases, the toxic ingredients in fake makeup products have caused long-term health problems such as high blood pressure and infertility.

However, most customers remain unaware of the harmful side effects until it is too late, she lamented.

"Almost 30 to 60 per cent of the people in our country suffer from allergic reactions, and yet we continue to use cosmetics extensively,” she said.

"Cosmetics are not a healthy choice, but one cannot stop using them. It is advisable to use the products in moderation though, and only when absolutely necessary,” Dr Javed said, warning, “Long-term exposure can lead to the accumulation of toxic materials in the skin, which can cause skin cancer."

Furthermore, some products that state that they are sun protective do not protect the skin but, on the contrary, lead to skin burns, she claimed.

Skin Specialist Imtiaz Rao said that it was crucial to indicate the expiry date and provide other critical information on product packaging.

Dr Rao advised adequate consuming conditions must also be clearly written on products together with the production dates. It is also crucial for buyers to read this information before purchasing and applying.

He further explained that fake eyeshadows, blushes, lipsticks, and powders typically have a chalkier or thinner consistency than real counterparts.

The dermatologist added that the use of these fake products with at times unknown chemicals can lead to a lot of dangerous conditions like allergic reactions, heavy metal poisoning, arsenic poisoning, exposure to dangerous bacteria and skin cancer.

The government should fulfil its responsibility to protect the public from harm by taking action against the sale and advertisement of counterfeit and cheaply made cosmetics, he said.

Dr Javed recommended that people avoid purchasing cosmetics from third-party sellers or unauthorised retailers, and instead find out where those brands are sold by authorised dealers.

"For example, if you know your favourite skin care line is sold on the company's own website and in a specific department store, make the effort to purchase it in those places. By doing this, you can be assured that the products are authentic. Avoid the temptation to purchase it from more convenient online locations as you have no idea how the product made it to that marketplace or where it came from in the first place,” she added.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2018.


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