Philippine city to clampdown on ‘toxic fake makeup’

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Philippine city to clampdown on ‘toxic fake makeup’
Lawmakers in the Philippine city of Baguio are vowing to crackdown on manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of counterfeit cosmetics.

A new proposed law would also allow authorities to confiscate unadulterated cosmetics product and destroy or properly dispose them.

The proposed ordinance, which set for imminent approval, will apply to cosmetics such as lipsticks, eye pencils, and mascara, as well as skincare items like soaps, lotions, and creams.

Baguio City Councillor Leandro Yangot Jr. said that the legislative measure aims to regulate cosmetic products in the city and encourage consumers not to put their health on the line in the pursuit of beauty.

Yangot has identified the Baguio City Health Services Office to lead in the implementation of the law once it comes into effect.

The dangerous allure of a bargain

In March, the Bureau of Customs (BOS) uncovered a supply of fake makeup and skincare products worth P600m ($11.2b) during inspections of warehouses in Tondo and Binondo, Manila.

Even though customs destroyed those products and implemented stricter border controls to prevent counterfeit beauty products from entering the country, the authorities stressed that consumers first needed to change their attitudes towards counterfeit products.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that anything pertaining to fake makeup, including manufacturing, importing, selling, advertising or using products that have not undergone regulation by the FDA, is illegal.

While they are prohibited, counterfeit cosmetics are abundant in Philippines, as Filipinos often choose to risk their safety and purchase such products due to their cheap prices.

Consumers have easy access to fake cosmetics that cost only a fraction of the real deal. A counterfeit Urban Decay Naked Palette, for instance, which cost $54, can be as low as P200 ($3.70).

Other than the rock bottom prices, sellers of fake products lure in Filipino beauty junkies with hot hard-to-get products such as Kylie Jenner’s elusive Lip Kits.

Poison in a tube

Ranging from lipsticks and mascaras to skin-whitening creams, these products are not regulated and contain a disturbing amount of toxic substances.

In an investigation of fake lipsticks, local environmental and health group, EcoWaste Coalition, found dangerously high levels of metal, arsenic, lead, and mercury.

These lipsticks, most slapped with fake M.A.C. labels, were found in popular shopping malls 168 Shopping Mall and Divisoria Mall in Manila.

Out of 57 lipsticks inspected, the group identified 55 were tainted with one or more toxic metals and discovered that they contained up to 42,000 parts per million worth of excess lead.

“We urge lipstick users not to buy counterfeit lipsticks and those without proper market authorisation as many of such products are laden with heavy metal contaminants that can seriously harm human health,”​ implored Thony Dizon, a member of EcoWaste Coalition.

According the World Health Organisation (WHO), lead is a toxic metal which causes health problems and environmental contamination.

As it accumulates in the body over time, lead can cause detrimental effects such as neurological, haematological, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular issues, as well as miscarriages and birth defects.

WHO adds that children are the most susceptible to effects of lead. In some cases, even relatively low levels of lead can result in irreversible neurological damage.

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