London (Giulia Faloia) – Self acceptance is very hard to achieve and its lack can bring to devastating consequences especially if it involves the use of illegal substances.

That’s exactly what happened to women who used skin-whitening creams. This kind of products  were banned from being sold over-the-counter in the UK since they contain hydroquinone and mercury that can cause liver, nerve and foetal damage.

However some business owners haven’t respected the ban and they have kept on selling the forbidden creams.

Some journalists visited 17 shop in London, Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester to see how many merchants are still selling the banned products.

Even if 6 of these shops had already been prosecuted for this reason, the under cover reporters found out that 13 shop keepers are still braking the rules and selling the creams.

The forbidden product was manufactured in Nigeria and it is called Funbeaut-A. It contained 3% hydroquinone, which is more than the strongest medicine containing hydroquinone licensed for prescription by UK doctors.

The clearest consequences of the skin-whitening creams are blisters and scars on the whole parts of the body on which people rub it. But unfortunately this isn’t the worst aspect.

In fact some victims of the creams developed a kind of addiction to them. Stop rubbing it on their skin was as hard as stop taking drugs. 

Furthermore what makes the problem even bigger is that anyone could buy these products. Even a little girl could come in a shop and take it, without any kind of restriction.

Anyway Trading Standards officer Cenred Elworthy said that some shop keepers stopped selling the products after being prosecuted. He added that “secondary offenders are often not selling things that are blatantly, obviously full of illegal products”.

On the other hand Elworthy also said that “no-one has actually served jail time for selling them” despite being caught still selling the illegal products while serving a suspended sentence. 

For this purpose he suggested the application of “on-the-spot fines” for businesses selling the skin-whitening products, and clearer sentencing guidelines.

The problem is real and stricter rules are necessary. This is the only way nobody else gets hurt.