Warning About Skin-Whitening Products in the Philippines

nita negrita

Skin-whitening products in the Philippines. It's an obsession with legions of Filipinos. So many people desire to have a white or light complexion and will spend countless pesos to reach their goal of what is perceived as beautiful on this archipelago of 7,107 islands in the South Pacific. I've dealt with this topic before, and on one of my previous posts concerning the TV show, "Nita Negrita," it is my most commented-upon article with 130 remarks. Now comes word that ELEVEN out of the 12 skin-whitening products being sold in the Philippines, with most of the products made in China, who frankly could care a rat's behind about what harmful ingredients they put in products,  contain huge amounts of mercury that can harm the kidneys and other organs.(Photo by GuudGrf on Flickr.)Skin Whitening Phenomenon

The Manila Standard Today recently reported that the EcoWaste Coalition states most of those products are made in China, and that those tested have been found to have mercury levels of 1,085 to 28,600 parts per million—when the limit is one part per million.

“We were shocked to find outrageously high levels of mercury in brazen breach of the country’s regulatory limit,” said Aileen Lucero, the group’s Safe Cosmetics Campaigner.

Those products also violate China’s limit of one part per million, Lucero says.

The group says the products they have found to contain high levels of mercury are the following: Miss Beauty Magic Cream, Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set Cream, JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream, The Flower Woman 7-Day Whitening and Spot and Night Set Cream, Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, Sara Glutathione Sheep Placenta Whitening and Anti-Spot Cream, Szitang 7-Day Specific Whitening and Spot AB Set Cream, Beauty Girl Natural Olive and Sheep Essence 10-Day Double Whitening Cream, Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream, Aichun Beauty Green Tea Whitening Speckle Removing Series Cream, and Aichun Beauty Whitening Freckle Day

Lucero says none of the 11 products listed mercury as an ingredient in their labels. Of those, five were recalled by the Food and Drugs Administration in 2010 for containing excessive mercury. The products were tested by visiting Chicago-based scientist Joe DiGangi, who used the X-Ray Fluorescence device, a chemical analyzer widely used by private companies and regulatory agencies in US.

The article reports that the samples found with high levels of mercury were all bought in Quiapo, Manila, and from two Chinese drug stores, a cosmetics shop, and two sidewalk vendors on July 23.

Here's a word of advice our family in the Philippines follows. We do not buy ANY healthcare or food product from China. We carefully check the labels of everything we purchase at our SM Supermarket in Iloilo City to make sure we know where the country of origin for the product is.

It continues to amaze and appall me to witness the continuing obsession with having a light complexion in the Philippines. Check out the movie and TV celebrities you find here, and you would be hard pressed to find any one with darker skin tones. As I've mentioned numerous times before, look at the employees working in the SM Department Stores and see what Brother Tom calls "the SM China Porcelain Dolls." Many employees there have told me that it is the policy of SM to not hire anyone with dark skin. Don't kid yourself, there's plenty of racism in the Philippines, and it's heartbreaking to see. If there are any laws against discrimination, they certainly aren't enforced. How sad. And tragic.

Author: The Kano

POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO" aka "THE CRUSTY OLD EXPAT." Dave DeWall, "The Kano", is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of "Philippines Plus" in publication since August 2009. He is also the CEO of Lizard Poop Productions and author of the best-selling guide book "The Philippines Expat Advisor." Dave moved to the Philippines in July 2009 from Central Illinois with his lovely wife of over 18 years, "The Sainted Patient Wife." The couple reside in a rural province in Western Visayas, Guimaras. The small island province is said to have the sweetest mangoes in the world. They do not have any children but are the proud owners of eight active canines, including a Belgian Shepherd called "Killer" "Killer" has bitten five people in the last two years along with one goat and a carabao. "Killer" doesn't like strangers. Or goats. Or carabaos.

12 thoughts on “Warning About Skin-Whitening Products in the Philippines

  1. My wife met one of my American female friends, a white girl. No, an extremely white girl.
    She said, “baby she is so beautiful!”
    I said “her?!?! She’s alright. She weighs almost as much as me though babe.” (I’m mean sometimes)
    She said “no… her skin… it’s soooo beautiful…. it’s sooooo white.”
    I said, “baby, she goes tanning several times per week and would kill for your skin”.
    “No, I can’t believe that!”, was the response.

    I guess most white women want to be tan and most tan women want to be white.

    1. Yep, in the States people spend hours in the tanning beds (although, hopefully, not hours at a time) and big bucks on getting tanned, Paul, but it’s quite the opposite for many folks in the Philippines. Personally, I think the darker tones of a morena are just as attractive as the lighter-skinned pinays.

  2. Dave……I sure do not understand what a perfect..Filipina beauty would want to change how she looks and risk her health to look like a white kano woman person…to me that is what makes them so pretty..is there brown skin color..black hair..dark eyes and such…There must be something in their thinking that there is something wrong with how they all ready look or something. I have always wondered about this for a long time….and now to find out what they have and are using is posion…..Not to knock the Chinese people..but I hate to buy any thing from said made in China…the other day I even notice fish that said from China…..wow..thought…why is China exporting food…..do they not have enough problem feeding all the people there..and then thought..I would not buy any food that said made in China…so interesting post…..doubt those that think they are ugley being all ready beautifull will stop using the different products that they tend to think will make them perfect and white…..hahahah if they only knew…that a lot of us white folks…we an’t perfect and oh…..I quess to to be fair…many of the white women..they want to be brown looking…so they lay out side all day or under sun tan lights to try to be looking like a natural brown Fillipina woman…and in the process age their skin many years and set their selves up for big skin cancer bumps here and there…..who knows why they do what they do…..I do not..like you say you do not…..

    1. I’m with you, Dan, I don’t understand why so many brown-skinned Pinays want to risk their health and throw away a bunch of pesos on skin-whitening products. Just doesn’t make any sense to me. I think part of it might be attributed to the old “colonial mentality” when the working folks in the rice fields and those working outdoors would naturally have darker skin tones. Richer folks would see their lighter skin tones as putting them in a different, higher class (at least in their opinion.) And yes, so many folks back in the States strive for that perfect tan that so many Filipinas want to get rid of. Sigh! I can’t figure it out.

  3. Oh Dave forgot to add..belive there is much discrimination, there….have I not read some place that if you are over 30 most places of employment do not want you..so I quess there if you are under thirty and pretty, but stupid you still get a great or a job, but if you are over 30 and smart you have a hell of a time getting a job…..sounds like it to me..

    1. There is a GREAT deal of age discrimination in the Philippines. So many employers specify in their job ads that I person has to be a certain age to even apply for a job. The job market is indeed very tough for those over 30, sad to say.

  4. It’s sad that girls are welling to put their health at risk to reach a form of beauty that they are never going to reach. We live in a world were everything is measured on the way one looks. I know it wouldn’t change anyone mind, but I would litter the streets with flyers telling those gorgeous pinays that we love the way they look and shouldn’t change just because everyone is doing it…

    1. I’m with you, Art. They should not change a thing, they are truly beautiful the way they are. On a lighter note, I’m afraid that if you littered our streets with flyers people would be hard-pressed to find them among the plastic bags and snack wrappers that line our streets. Such a beautiful island we live on and so much garbage strewn around.

  5. My gosh! I’m about to turn 30 and I have a hell of a time getting a job here. I never disclose my date of birth in the resume, and those who interview me were always shocked when I say that I’m going to be 30 this year. Looking like a 15 year old does give me some edge.

    But I think my life is ended as far as career is concerned. If I don’t get a job now, I have some alternative options, which plagues people like me:
    >Most people in my age category end up as call boys/girls (call centers)
    >Sell myself as a prostitute or find myself a sponsor
    >Commit suicide, since I’m as good as worthless in society now
    >Go underground and do shady business
    >Go abroad and suffer from homesickness

    Any suggestions for me? I’m getting desperate, and it takes at least one month in between interviews and screenings. I’m just an average person, and I’m not that well off to start my own business either. Oh life!

    1. Sad to say, Rattus, as a 30-year-old in the Philippines your options are limited. My own asawa had to leave her province of Guimaras after high school graduation to find work as a maid in Manila. She then worked for several years as a domestic helper/caretaker in Singapore and Taiwan before our marriage in 2000. Her sister, Marjorie, now works in Kuwait as a domestic helper. Marjorie’s now 44, way too old now to work in Hong Kong or Singapore where they want much younger workers.

      I do know of one call center that is hiring people of all ages. I was amazed to learn that people in their 30’s, 40’s and even 50’s are working at TeleTech in Iloilo where we live. Anyone out there have any advice for Rattus? And Rattus, as I’m sure you know, you’re not worthless in the eyes of God. I sincerely hope someone can offer you some helpful suggestions.

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