Mercury in creams, feces in cosmetics: Beware of bargain beauty products

Posted at 6:03 PM, Oct 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-19 10:26:51-04

(WXYZ) — Bargain shoppers beware: You may want to skip cheap deals on beauty products. They could be contaminated with dangerous ingredients or manufacturing byproducts.

What has been found in some of these products?

You might be surprised to hear that mercury, bacteria, feces and asbestos have been found in beauty products. And these can have real impacts on your health. For instance, when a 47-year old woman bought what she thought was a well-known skin cream, she ended up semi-comatose for several weeks. And when her blood when tested, the mercury level was 500 times the normal amount. Which is very high. Now with bacteria and feces, you could get infections that need medication. And with asbestos, it’s a known carcinogen which means it can cause cancer. So if a beauty product is powder-based and contains asbestos fibers, then it could potentially be harmful if it’s breathed in.

Should buyers only be concerned with bargain beauty products?

Cheap products can mean counterfeit products. And the FDA warns that counterfeits can have banned ingredients, unapproved color additives and unhygienic manufacturing conditions. But it really depends on where you’re getting your beauty products from. You need to be careful if you buy online, at markets, or while visiting another country, especially if the price seems too good to be true. Now for the most part, if you’re buying from a reputable retailer, then it’s unlikely you’re getting a counterfeit product. But that doesn’t guarantee that it’s 100% safe. However, you can get up-to-date info on the FDA’s website, as they do post cosmetic recalls and alerts.

Is there any way consumers can know if the product is fake?

I recommend looking products over carefully before buying. Check the label and package – does it look different or if it’s been tampered with or repackaged? Is it missing a barcode? What about texture, color or smells? These can help you spot a counterfeit product but it’s certainly not a guarantee as phony products can look quite realistic. In my opinion, just because it’s a great price, doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. So save your money and buy from trustworthy companies and reputable retailers.


This week – an ALL-NEW episode of the Dr. Nandi Show! As a health hero, one of the most important things to Dr. Partha Nandi is your mental health. And that’s why he tackles the incredibly tough topic of suicide with Ruth Soukup, a suicide survivor and two other guests whose families have been touched by the loss of a loved one. Do you think a loved one might be contemplating suicide? Find out the signs with Dr. Suvrat Bhargave. Plus, author Steve Simpson joins Dr. Nandi to talk about how Hollywood is changing the face of mental health awareness. Tune in this Sunday, October 20 at 1:30 AM, please note this is technically Monday as it’s after midnight.