Cancer-linked skin lightening creams seized at Gatwick

Banned substance hydroquinone found in cosmetics


A large shipment of highly toxic skin lightening products linked to cancer has been seized at Gatwick Airport.
The consignment of almost 1,000 jars of cosmetics, containing banned substance hydroquinone, were prevented from importation by West Sussex County Council’s Trading Standards Service, working in partnership with UK Border Force at Gatwick Airport.

The products, with a retail value of more than £14,000, had been flown in from Africa for distribution in the UK.
David Barling, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said: “Our Trading Standards Team in its role as a Market Surveillance Authority, works with partner agencies to protect our national borders and prevent dangerous products such as these entering the UK.
“This consignment of nearly 1000 jars of cosmetics contained hydroquinone. This substance is banned for use in skin lighteners by many countries including all EU member states and has been linked to thinning of the skin and cancer.” 

Peter Aston, Trading Standards Team Manager, added: “These unsafe cosmetics were not declared and investigations are continuing into this illegal trade. We estimate the products seized have a retail value in excess of £14000, which is potentially very lucrative to the unscrupulous traders ultimately selling on these products.”

Anyone with information on skin lightening creams containing hydroquinone should alert trading standard by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 or online at

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Last updated:
6 February 2018

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