A shop owner has been prosecuted for selling dangerous skin whitening products for a third time, after inspectors found the scarring and cancerous treatments stuffed under his floorboards.
Shaba Hair & Cosmetics in Peckham, pleaded guilty to illegally selling potentially carcinogenic skin whitening cosmetics, after an undercover sting.
Its director, Tasweer Iqbal, 45, of West Green Road, Tottenham, has now been found liable for half the costs – £3,843.
The business was sentenced to pay the other half of the costs as well as £20,000 in fines.
The judge in the case listed the high financial gains and the deliberate concealment of the banned goods and illegal labelling which left customers with no idea what they were applying to their skin.
She was also satisfied that Iqbal clearly knew exactly what he was doing, because he hid the toxic goods – and Southwark council’s video footage of him selling illegal products, from under the counter.
Iqbal was also sentenced to a 200-hour community order, to be completed within a year. Southwark council will proceed to destroy all of the goods seized during the investigation.
An undercover test purchase of illegal skin lightening cream was carried out by Southwark trading standards, at Shaba Hair & Cosmetics, on August 18, 2018.
The test purchaser asked for the product, Caro White Lightening Beauty Cream, by name, and it was fetched from the back of the shop.
The test purchaser wore a covert camera and this identified the man at the till as Iqbal. The cream was labelled as containing hydroquinone.
Hydroquinone can cause skin thinning, uneven skin tone and texture, facial scarring and even increase pigment production in the skin.
It is banned throughout the EU and can cause dangerous long-term health effects including cancer and kidney, liver and nerve damage. It is also very dangerous to use when pregnant.
Southwark Trading Standard then carried out a raid at Shaba Hair & Cosmetics on Saturday, October 6, 2018. Illegal skin lighteners were found concealed at the rear of the premises, hidden under floorboards. Some were on shelves in the store and others in plastic bags behind the sales counter.
In total, 1,129 products were seized, and various samples were submitted for analysis. Of the 19 samples, 17 were found to contain hydroquinone. The eight samples submitted for steroid checks were all found to be positive.
Steroids are normally found in prescription products, like eczema creams. Prolonged, medically unsupervised use of steroid cream is dangerous as it thins the skin, leading to an increased risk of infection and hormone imbalance. Steroids are also prohibited in cosmetic products.
Cllr Victoria Mills, cabinet member for finance, performance and Brexit, said: “We have prosecuted Shaba Hair and Cosmetics on two previous occasions for supplying illegal and dangerous cosmetics to vulnerable people.
“The company and its directors have deliberately and systematically ignored the advice given by Southwark trading standards and the court.
“This result shows that the court supports the council in condemning the practise of putting consumers at risk for financial gain. This is a message to other vendors to sell products that comply with the law and put consumer safety first.”