Assessment of the Levels of Selected Skin Lightening Agents in Cosmetics Marketed in Mombasa County, Kenya
Muanje, Abdulwakil Daudi
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The practice of skin-lightening has reached epidemic levels in many nations around the globe, and especially in many African countries. In Kenya, the practice is common in major urban centres like Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret and Mombasa. The skin lightening cosmetics occur in various forms including topical creams, soaps and bleaching powders. Ingredients such as hydroquinone (HQ), mercury (Hg), arbutin (ART), kojic acid (KA), ascorbic acid (AA), magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP) are used in skin lightening cosmetics. The use of skin lightening cosmetics containing harmful ingredients which pose great risk to severe health problems has been on the rise in Kenya. The objective of this study was to quantify the levels of Hg, HQ, ART, KA, AA and MAP in creams, soaps and some powdered skin lightening cosmetics sold in Mombasa County. Purposive non probability sampling design was used to collect skin lightening cosmetics and a reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography and cold vapour atomic absorption spectroscopy were used as analytical techniques. The data was analysed by SPSS system and the mean values were compared using analysis of variance and t-test. The levels of Hg ranged between 0.001±0.0001 to 0.01±0.0004 μg/g in creams, 0.0100±0.0005 to 0.0200±0.0012 μg/g in soaps and 0.0010±0.0001 to 0.0028±0.0001 μg/g in powdered samples. The level of HQ ranged between 0.00273±0.01 to 0.01204±0.04 % in creams, between 0.003011±0.32 to 0.0059.83±0.11 % in soaps and between 0.0029.75±0.04 to 0.02267±3.88 % in powders. The level of ART ranged between 0.0051.45±0.35 to 1.1068.44±3.74 % in creams, between 0.000035±0.0023 to 1.77±0.01 % in soaps and between 0.02413±0.21 to 0.02537±1.22 % in powders. The level of KA ranged between 0.003403±0.02 to 0.01033 ±0.11 % in creams, between 0.00339 ±0.01 to 0.00713±0.30 % in soaps and between 0.00339±0.01 to 0.00713±0.30 % in powders. The level of AA ranged between 0.0867±0.03 to 0.3806±3.31 % in creams, between 0.0915±2.99 to 0.332±0.58 % in soaps and between 0.1177±3.87 to 0.7203±55.22 % in powders. In MAP, the levels ranged between 0.0837±0.01 to 0.08745±0.01 % in creams, between 0.0289 ±12.79 to 0.112±19.49 % in powders samples and it was below detectable limits in soaps. Levels of Hg did not differ significantly in creams and soaps, while AA did not differ significantly only in soaps. The other parameters differed significantly. The mean levels of all the skin lightening agents were below the maximum permissible limits. However, persistent use of these cosmetics may result to accumulation and long term manifestation of their effects.