Estimation of mercury and hydroquinone content in skin whitening creams and the potential risks to the health of women in Lahore, Pakistan



White complexion, obsession, skin whitening creams, skin disorders, Hydroquinone, Mercury.


Women in Pakistan are obsessed with the concept of glowing whitish complexion. Fairness creams contain very high amount of mercury and hydroquinone. These act by inhibiting the tyrosinase enzyme responsible for melanin production. The study is conducted with aim to detect the prevalence of skin bleaching in Lahore and determine the levels of hydroquinone and mercury in some locally manufactured brands of skin whitening creams. In first part of study the prevalence of skin bleaching in Lahore was estimated. In second part samples of locally manufactured skin whitening creams were purchased. Physiochemical analysis was done. Percent hydroquinone content was determined by U.V. Spectrophotometer, while the concentration of Mercury was analyzed using Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer. Prevalence of skin bleaching was estimated to be ~50% in target population. The major motivating factors driving women towards this practice are personal satisfaction and confidence, getting better jobs and good marriage proposals. The practice has resulted in higher prevalence of skin disorders among young females; common being acne, uneven skin tone, facial hairs and scars. All samples were of acidic pH. Hydroquinone content was detected to be in range of 0.000064-0.039%. Mercury content was determined to be in range of 3.6-240 ppm. We should feel free to be confident in the complexion provided by nature and stop the use of any skin whitening product, as in long term they will only make our complexion much worse.

Author Biographies

Tanveer Majeed, Department of Biotechnology, Kinnaird College for Women Lahore

Assistant Professor Department of Biotechnology, Kinnaird College for Women Lahore

Syeda Hajira Shah

Department of Biotechnology, Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore, Pakistan

Iram Anjum

Department of Biotechnology, Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore, Pakistan


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