London cosmetic shops fined £168,000 in 2016 for selling illegal cosmetics

London Trading Standards have published figures which show that 15 cosmetic companies across the capital were fined a total of £168,579 in 2016 for dealing in unsafe cosmetic products. The results were achieved by five London boroughs who prosecuted a total of 17 individual Directors along with their 15 companies, with the penalties averaging at £11,239.

The majority of the prosecutions were in relation to two factors:

  1. Supplying skin lightening products containing dangerous and prohibited levels of hydroquinone, mercury or corticosteroids.
  2. labelling breaches and a lack of traceability.

Safety regulations prohibit these ingredients in cosmetics, however thousands of products containing them had been found and seized by Trading Standards. 

The prolonged use of such products can result in a host of health problems from skin thinning and discoloration to organ damage and even cancer in the long run. 

Research showed that the illegal sales are also taking place online with at least 15 online sellers of prohibited skin lightening products.

Company bosses who sell banned cosmetic products can be fined up to £20,000 per offence and sent to prison for up to one year.

London Trading Standards published the following prosecution results from 2016:

In Barking & Dagenham – four businesses were convicted in March 2016 at Barkingside Magistrates Court. Total fines and costs were over £50,000. One of the products found, called Faiza Beauty Cream contained 0.54% mercury a highly toxic element that accumulates in the body. Total fines and costs were: 

  • £15,240 - Crystal Cosmetics (Dagenham) Limited and Director
  • £15,163 – Supergrows Cosmetics Limited of East Street Barking and Director
  • £14,950 - Beauty Queens Cosmetics (Barking) Ltd of East Street Barking and two Directors
  • £5,050 - Sole trader R&T Cosmetics of the Heathway in Dagenham 

In Enfield – five businesses were convicted in September to December 2016 for labelling issues and other offences: 

  • £21,787 - Kannan Stores Ltd of 251 Fore Street, Edmonton, and two Directors
  • £3,195 - Afromart Mini Market Ltd, Hertford Road, and Director
  • £2,595 - Shaba Hair & Cosmetics (UK) Ltd of South Mall, Edmonton and Director
  • £3,050 - Beautyqueens Cosmetics (Wood Green) Ltd of Fore Street, Edmonton, and Director
  • £5,000 – Gramadi Place Limited and Director

In Hackney - two long running cases against Dalston based Beauty Queen Cosmetics Limited and Shaba Hair & Cosmetics Limited were resolved on 26 May 2016 at Snaresbrook Crown Court. Two Directors received suspended prison sentences and 100 hours community service each along with a total of £26,500 in fines and costs. The offences were committed in June 2013. They were also ordered to pay back a total of £3,760.59 under the Proceeds of Crime Act and one was disqualified from being a Director for four years. 

In Newham – another branch of Supergrows Cosmetics Limited was also subject to enforcement action after being found to have infringing products. On 6 April 2016 Thames Magistrates imposed fines and costs against the company and Director totalling £12,097. 

In Southwark - the Directors of three businesses trading in Rye Lane, Peckham SE15, appeared at Camberwell Green Magistrates Court on 15 April 2016. They each pleaded guilty to a variety of offences concerning the supply of skin lighteners and soaps containing prohibited ingredients or prescription only products after some 2,690 products were seized in 2015. They received fines and costs totalling just under £44,000. One of the products found, called ‘Grace Duo’, contained 18% hydroquinone – believed to be the highest amount ever found in such sampling. Total fines and costs were:

  • £19,143 - Fas Hair & Cosmetics Limited and Director 
  • £15,200 - Peckham Hair & Cosmetics Limited & two Directors
  • £9,609 - Jinny’s Beauty Limited and Director 

Summary table
2016 results of cosmetic products safety prosecutions by London Trading Standards

Local Authority Number of Shops/ Companies Number of Directors/ Owners Total number of Defendants Total fines and costs imposed (£)
Barking & Dagenham 4 4 8 £50,403
Enfield 5 6 11 £35,627
Hackney 2 2 4 £26,500
Newham 1 1 2 £12,097
Southwark 3 4 7 £43,952
Totals 15 17 32 £168,579

If you require legal or regulatory support in relation to illegal and unsafe products please get in touch with a member of the team.

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