Hey People! So, this isn’t something I thought I’d be doing anytime soon, but I believe it’s necessary.
I came to realize many people aren’t aware of NAFDAC’S regulations for skincare or cosmetics. In fact, I’m sure some people don’t know it has anything to do with NAFDAC.
Because of this little fact, I made this post. What does NAFDAC say?! This is part one, highlighting mainly prohibited ingredients and the likes.
Part 2 would be about cosmetic products labelling.
What Inspired me to make this?
As you have probably figured out by now, I have a story for everything.
About a month ago (Lmao this song, every year). Anyway, last month I had this breakout on my neck. I don’t really know if it’s a breakout to be honest, by that I mean I don’t know if its hormonal acne (cause it’s on my neck and jaw), or if it’s a reaction.
Either way, at first, I treated it as a reaction. Because I don’t get pimples or breakouts on my neck. Like at all, I’ve never had it.
I stopped all my products and was using this cream a pharmacist recommended (see this is a long story so I’ll make a separate diary entry for it).
Skip to the part my dad told me to use this medicated soap, It’s popular and old. I’ve used it before when I was way younger.
Now my mum told me this was the ‘IT’ soap back then, and it’s great. Unfortunately for me, I was too lazy to look up the ingredient before use (I’m not a saint guys). It had only one ingredient, not even a list (weird for a soap).
Let’s just say, I looked it up and realized I was lathering on and inhaling mercury for close to a month. Although not to discredit it completely, it dried up the reaction abi breakout (At least I think it did).
Now let’s dive into what NAFDAC has to say about skincare products like this one…
First off, I will give you guys an overview of what exactly how it involves NAFDAC (really brief, I promise).
Who they are, what they do, and all that jazz. I know we all learnt this in secondary school, but then…
NAFDAC, which is short for the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control. Basically, these guys are to regulate and control anything to do with; manufacturing, selling, exportation, importation, advertising, distributing, and consumption of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, chemicals and packaged water.
Yeah, that’s it.
For some time now, many people neglect or some people aren’t even aware of certain regulations and enforcements by NAFDAC for cosmetics and beauty product.
Well, Nigeria, in fact, has a regulatory body on that too.
What Does NAFDAC Have To Say
The entire aim of this post is just to bring to your notice or make more people aware of what set rules abi regulations are on their skincare products.
You might already have a little idea on most of them, but this is a more in-dept research-backed ‘write up’. I promise to keep it short and as ‘unboring’ as I can for a research.
ABOUT PROHIBITION/REGULATIONS OF COSMETIC PRODUCTS
Yeah, it’ll interest you to know that NAFDAC has a major role to play in regulating what we put on our skin. NAFDAC has 3 ingredients blacklisted for cosmetic use.
Actually, 2 now since they allowed one of them with regulations.
The 3 blacklisted include…
Products containing any form of mercury are top on NAFDAC’s list of adulterated products. NAFDAC deems any cosmetic product containing it as an unsafe cosmetic product and therefore banned from sales, manufacture, export, import and use in Nigeria.
In a previous post about dark spots and hyperpigmentation, I listed mercury as something you’d not want to have in your skincare product.
I also dropped a direct link to a document by WHO (World Health Organization) concerning the dangers of mercury. You can find it here.
First, mercury is toxic, toxic as in leading the ‘gang of toxins’. You can find trace quantities in seafood but not nothing life-threatening, but in cosmetics though…
Inhaling mercury alone can cause a lot of complication to our vital organs. Talk less of rubbing it on your skin.
If you note the ingredients, most soaps with mercury have a powerful scent and practically the same colour.
They also ban mercury in the Europe Union, North America and many African countries.
Some Brands containing Mercury: Tura, Movate, Crusader, A3, Makako, Sivoclaire, etc. For a more comprehensive list, check here.
Another ingredient that NAFDAC deems unsafe and has prohibited from use in cosmetic products is corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are one of the most common treatments for skin inflammations and other non-infectious skin conditions.
They are a class of drug which lowers inflammation in the body. They also reduce immune system activity.
It is commonly found in triple action creams which many people misuse as well. Despite its availability in TAC, NAFDAC prohibits its use in cosmetic products. A major side effect of corticosteroids includes steroid acne and stretch marks.
NAFDAC classifies “cosmetics” as any substance or mixture intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled or sprayed, introduced into or otherwise applied to the human body or any part thereof for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering the complexion, skin, hair or teeth and includes deodorants and detergent powder.
Corticosteroids have gained popularity as bleaching agents, especially the stronger variants. Which is why you might notice some TAC lighten the skin.
Such cosmetics are banned from sale, manufacture, import, export, distribution, display for sale and use in Nigeria.
Popular Corticosteroids used include…
I’d advise limited use of most triple-action creams. In Nigeria, they contain some of the strongest steroids and the use of such medications without a diagnosed medical condition or skin condition could lead to equal consequences.
You should really check this research out, it’s by Indian dermatologists about the effects of long-term use of steroids for lightening.
I also have a post about misuse of TAC here.
Above 1% of Hydroquinone
Initially, a 2% Hydroquinone content limit was set for cosmetic products and 5% for therapeutic use.
After that, it completely banned the bleaching agent was completely in Nigeria (because of long-term use and misuse), but as of 2019, NAFDAC amended the prohibition.
The new regulation prohibits the import, sale, export, manufacture, distribution or display for sale of any cosmetic product containing above 2% of Hydroquinone alone or 1% in combination with other lightening ingredients.
For instance, NAFDAC would prohibit 2% of Hydroquinone combined with an ingredient like Kojic acid or Retinoids. But just 1% wouldn’t.
NAFDAC also sees any cosmetic product with beyond 1% of hydroquinone and any of the forms of arbutin as an adulterated product.
Arbutin is a naturally derived skin lightening agent commonly found in berries and wheat. It is a naturally occurring derivative of hydroquinone (glycosylated hydroquinone). Our bodies breakdown arbutin into hydroquinone and glucose. I believe this regulation is because of its similarities with hydroquinone.
Hydroquinone is arguably the strongest bleaching ingredient there is, because of its potency and efficacy it comes with a lot of side-effects. Especially when not properly formulated or used. Some of these side effects include; Burning, Photosensitivity, ochronosis, skin damage, etc. You can check this article to learn more about hydroquinone.
In other countries like the US, South Africa and the rest, the cosmetic limit is 2% while 4% is the limit for dermatological preparation.
Forms of Hydroquinone: Diphenol, Quinol, Tequinol, Benzene -1, 4-diol, p-Dihydroxylbenzene, Hydrochinone, phydroxylphenol, 1, 4-Benzenediol, Hydroquinol, Hydrochinonium, etc.
A simple way to know a cream has hydroquinone is if it promises to whiten but has no obvious whitening agent on the ingredient list. If it also has a pungent/choking smell when closely inhaled, it’s most likely has hydroquinone.
My aunt had this cream, it was kind of like a squirting bottle. Gosh, that thing could choke a man to death. From afar it was alright (as in no harsh smell), but just bring your nose to the opening and squeeze (death by bleaching cream).
Some Brands containing Hydroquinone: Movate, Tura, Looking Good, Sivoclaire, Melanex, Viva, Carotone, Fair and White, etc. For a more comprehensive list, check here.
You probably noticed everything on the list is there because of misuse and the side effects that come with when used for cosmetic purpose (AKA bleaching).
I can’t tell you to stop bleaching because at the end it’s your choice and your body.
What I can do is give you information about the side effects and regulations enforced. Bleaching your skin comes with a lot of unnecessary junk and isn’t something you should take lightly.
Plus, it’s like telling the whites, “Yes, my colour is inferior. I want to be like you guys”
If your aim is simply to lighten your spots and hyperpigmented patches, then there are a lot of safer alternatives than the bleaching agents listed above. I listed some here.
The best way to avoid these ingredients and toxic of such is to always read your ingredient label. I know it’s tempting to just trust a brand and buy without reading, but please attempt to read your ingredient label.
You don’t even need to be a wiz at it, a guide like this one with you anytime you go shopping could help 😊.
It’ll really save you from a lot. Trust me.
Have you used any product with these ingredients? What was your experience? Good or Bad?
- Obuekwe, Ifeyinwa Flossy and Ochei, Uche Mabel (2004). An Epidemiological Survey on the Presence of Toxic Chemicals in Soaps and Cosmetics Used by Adolescent Female Students from a Nigerian University. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 5(5), 85-92.