Former bilingual secretary, Yinka Oluyemi, 46 and her husband Michael, 49 are said to have profited in the region of £1 million from the sale of illegal and poisonous skin bleaching products. The products were sold to test purchasers and unsuspecting customers. Despite a number of official warnings and a previous conviction and fine in 2001, for supplying soaps containing mercury and skin lighteners containing over 2% hydroquinone, the couple continued to flagrantly disregard the law by placing the health of their customers at risk. Hydroquinone works by disrupting the synthesis of melanin hyper-pigmentation, thereby lightening the skin tone. Unfortunately, this process often causes irreparable skin damage.
The Oluyemis admitted four counts of selling or offering for sale prescription-only products and six counts of supplying cosmetic goods containing hydroquinone, a chemical that is banned in the UK under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. They have been released on bail pending an enquiry into their finances and will be sentenced later this month on Friday 17 November and Inner London Crown Court.
Even after their initial conviction for selling harmful products, the pair went on to receive the Hair and Beauty Award from the Black Business Awards in Southwark “for their contributions to the hair and beauty industry” in October 2005. A year later, they are facing up to two years imprisonment, a fine and the loss of their businesses.
A disturbing trend
Last month, Hassan Akhtar, Mubashir Akthar and Nasira Akhtar of 16 Woodfield Avenue, London SW16 1LG also pleaded guilty to selling and supplying unlicensed and harmful skin products from their Brixton based shop, Ace Afro Hair and Beauty.
The endorsement of skin lighteners in the Black Beauty and Hair magazine was also condemned by the African community recently after it featured over twelve full pages of adverts for skin lightening products. Ligali wrote to Irene Shelley, the editor of the publication to express concern at the prevalence of these adverts and request that the magazine refrains from featuring them in future. In response, Shelley wrote:
“I have noted your comments and the issues that you have raised in your email. There is considerable merit in the statement that you have made about skin lighteners. This is topic that we have raised in the magazine from time to time. We have never advocated the use of skin lighteners; in fact we positively discouraged the use of hydroquinone products when they were available over the counter. Our editorial position on skin lighteners is very clear.
Our editorial aim is to inform readers about hair, beauty and lifestyle issues without guiding them towards any particular viewpoint. We carry images of women with relaxed hair, weaves and natural hair as we try to reflect the wide range and tastes of our readership.”
As a result of this unsatisfactory response, Ligali wrote another letter of complaint on the 7th October detailing the on-going concerns with the magazines offensive editorial policy and apparent disregard for the serious psychological and physical effects of using skin lightening products. As yet, the magazine has failed to respond.
External Links£1m toxic creams scam - South London Press
Illegal skin poisons seized at Afro Hair and Beauty shop‘black’ hair magazine promotes immoral and harmful products
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