Toxics Watch Group Exposes Sale of Unregistered Skin Cream with High Lead Content

23 September 2018, Quezon City.  A medicated facial cream that claims to lighten the complexion and cure every skin woe has been found to be contaminated with lead, a potent neurotoxin.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental and health group, aired the stark warning against “Top Shirley Medicated Cream” from Taiwan after finding lead impurities in this product, which is not notified or registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The group obtained the product yesterday, September 22, for P50 from LVD Chinese Drugstore located at 999 Shopping Mall in Divisoria, Manila. 

Using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence analytical device, the group detected lead reaching 2,088 parts per million (ppm) on Top Shirley.  This is way above the trace amount limit of not more than 20 ppm for lead as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive’s restrictions for heavy metal impurities.

“Lead is a highly toxic poison, which can be ingested or absorbed through the skin, that is why it is banned in cosmetic product formulations.  To protect public health and the environment, lead is not only banned in cosmetics, but also in gasoline, paints, toys, school supplies, water pipes, and food contact packaging,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We are worried that consumers craving to have lighter and flawless skin are being enticed to buy and use this unsafe product because of its efficacy claims and affordability,” he pointed out.

As written on the package insert, Top Shirley is the “best cream” that can “remove black heads, pimples, freckles and smooth wrinkles.”  According to the information provided, Top Shirley also “contains natural albumen and aloe base that have an effect on lightening facial skin.”

According to the US-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC), “lead is a well-known and proven neurotoxin that has been linked to learning, language and behavioral problems.”

“Lead has been linked to reduced fertility in both men and women, hormonal changes and menstrual irregularities. Pregnant women are especially vulnerable because lead crosses the placenta and may enter the fetal brain, and has also been linked to miscarriage,” the CSC fact sheet says.

To prevent exposure to heavy metals like lead and other health-damaging contaminants, the EcoWaste Coalition echoed the FDA’s advice telling consumers “to be vigilant against cosmetic products that might not be duly notified with the FDA.”

The FDA has time after time reminded consumers that it cannot guarantee the quality and safety of non-notified cosmetics because these products have not gone through the agency’s verification procedures.

“Always check if a cosmetic product has been notified with FDA before purchasing it by making use of the embedded search feature of the FDA website accessible at,” the FDA suggested.