Health unit warns against use of out-of-country artisanal skin products



The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is alerting the public that artisanal skin products (products that do not have labels to show that they are made by registered companies) marketed for skin-lightening, anti-aging or for the treatment of acne, obtained from out-of-country can contain harmful ingredients and should be avoided. The caution follows a health unit investigation into a local case of mercury poisoning.

“People need to be aware that out-of-country artisanal or unlabeled cosmetic skin creams marketed for skin-lightening, anti-aging or for the treatment of acne may contain unsafe and potentially toxic ingredients, including high concentrations of mercury,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s medical officer of health. “Travel and the abundance of online shopping platforms make it easy for people to access cosmetic and skin products that are restricted for use in Canada because they are unsafe.”

Mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal. When contained in artisanal products such as skin cream, mercury can easily transfer from containers to skin, other people and items in the home environment. Infants and children are at greatest risk from mercury exposure due to their developing brain and nervous system. Very young children can be at risk if a family member has been using the product, given the close skin-to-skin contact of young children with their family members.

People can keep themselves and their family safe by:

  • avoiding purchasing artisanal cosmetic products marketed as skin-lightening, anti-aging or for treatment of acne when travelling outside of Canada, or on online marketplaces
  • reading the ingredient lists on skin care products, and
  • immediately discontinuing the use of any suspicious skin care products.

For more information on out of country artisanal skin products or mercury, call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or

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  1. Brian Tapley on

    One could ask where our government is and if they are asleep at the switch here when it comes to these products being imported into Canada in the first place.
    I thought that things had to be approved for import BEFORE they got into the country so that health hazards like this never even got on shelves in Canada!!
    It is kind of a stupid and backward way to do things to let a product of questionable safety be imported into the country and be sold with no questions asked it seems and then task the local health department to try to educate all the populace about not using an unlabeled product that is seemingly readily for sale in the country.
    We have the wrong people doing the wrong job in the most inefficient manner here. Oh… sorry.. it is Ontario we are talking about is it not? My mistake, I should have expected this!

  2. Faye McKnight on

    Caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware. Products purchased online are not scrutinized by our Canadian or FDA standards. It is next to impossible at present to monitor products arriving into Canada by mail. The consumer needs to do their research if information is available or simply not purchase off shore products. Online shopping is a risk the consumer must be willing to take,

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