A new government quality-control initiative takes aim at illegal whitening creams and other potentially dangerous make-up
In 2001 the European Union banned whitening creams containing the popular chemical hydroquinone after it linked it to dermatological side effects. Thailand’s food and drug administration currently has a list of 70 illegal whitening creams.
THE Council of Ministers has approved a sub decree on product quality control that will prevent the importation of potentially harmful cosmetics.
The sub decree was created by the Ministry of Health and aims to control all cosmetic products, including illegal beauty creams.
"The sub decree aims at preventing the import of deteriorated products and illegal cosmetics in order to guarantee quality and safety for users and creating good trade in cosmetics," the council said in a statement Friday.
Veng Thai, director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Health Department, said Monday that the government wants to ensure that products which can harm people's health are no longer imported.
"[Either] there will be more control of cosmetics or there will be more harm to people's health," he said.
The main target of the sub-decree is believed to be powders and lotions that promote skin whitening, which are popular in Cambodia.
"Using [these] cosmetics incorrectly will cause health problems," Veng Thai said. "We have to control it."
Although commercial whitening products are widely available in Cambodia, their large presence in the black market means that most products sold are often incorrectly labeled or not labeled at all.
Srey Pisey, the owner of Samphose Neary beauty salon shop in Phnom Penh, said that she sold cream powder for skin whitening purposes that she had mixed herself.
"I did not know it affected people's health," she explained.