When Shinu of Manjeri in Malappuram went to a men’s beauty parlour to get a facial done in November, never in his wildest dreams would he have thought that he would have to subsequently undergo several weeks of treatment, for severe burns sustained on his face.
Spurious cheap cosmetics that are used in local beauty parlours are to be blamed for his present painful condition.
Shinu felt a severe burning sensation immediately after a cream was applied to his face. “When I told him that the sensation was unbearable, he started to dab it off my face using a cotton swab….to my horror, even my skin peeled off along with the cream,” Shinu told the media.
The Kerala State Drugs Control Department says that the said incident cannot be treated as an aberrant. In November, the department formed a team under project ‘Operation Henna’ to check on the increasing presence of fake cosmetics in use in parlours, and available with wholesale distributor-outlets in the state.
The team conducted its first raid across Kerala on Thursday on wholesale distributor-outlets who purportedly sell ‘imported’ cosmetics items.
“We conducted the raid in ten districts, and seized of a lot of products that had no name of the manufacturers or other relevant details printed on them. Most of these are apparently imported from North India and China, and are widely used in beauty parlours across the state, owing to very cheap rates,” says Ravi S Menon –state Deputy Drugs Controller – while speaking to The News Minute.
The Department has received many unofficial complaints of harmful after-effects after use of the same. “Since it is a delicate issue, people hesitate to file an official complaint,” he feels.
According to Ravi, the local beauticians themselves are mostly unaware of the dangerous consequences of using such cosmetics.
“There are numerous short-term beautician courses on offer, which may not exactly be termed professional. Most of them are unaware of the inherent dangers of using such products. In such a scenario, awareness has to be created among the beauticians as well as the wholesale- distributors,” he believes.
Samples of all cosmetic skin creams, face packs, after-shave lotions, moisturizers artificial hair dyes & colours and henna products that were confiscated in large numbers will now be sent to laboratories for testing.
“Most of them do not have any details encrypted, with no information on manufacturers, and details of chemicals or colour used in the preparation available to the consumer. Some of the henna mixtures claim to be herbal, and boast of getting your hair coloured in two minutes. No herbal cream can do that in two minutes! Once we get the lab results, we shall be able to identify its contents. Certain shaving lotions had just spirit bottled up,” scoffs Ravi.
According to him, since the names of the manufacturers are missing, no one can be officially charged of such lapses as of now: “But we have also seized a few products from some well-known manufacturers. We plan to move legally against them.”
The next batch of raids will be on beauty parlours, once the team gets the requisite permission. “I personally believe that the dealers should be nabbed first in order to put an immediate check on the in-flow of these products,” Ravi opines.
Raids under Operation Henna will continue for another ten days, after which the team would conduct the same at frequent intervals to cash in on its deterrent effect.
“The people who use such products should be made aware. They should ensure that the products have all details mentioned on the package, as per industry laid-down standards. They should be aware that prohibited colours and chemicals that are legally banned for use in beauty products do find its way into certain sub-standard cosmetics,” he adds.