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Environmental health Investigations branch

Environmental Health Investigations Branch

Mercury in Skin Creams

Mercury is dangerous.  It can cause serious health problems, even hospitalizations, for California residents and their families. Mercury is found in some skin creams made outside the United States. These creams are used to lighten age spots or get rid of wrinkles, freckles, acne, or other blemishes. Mercury in creams can poison the cream user. It can also poison children in the family who aren’t using the creams themselves. View our List of Face Creams Containing Mercury.

Skin creams with mercury are sold by individuals, in small markets or swap meets, or on the internet. They may not have a label and some have handmade labels.  Creams with mercury can be homemade or artisanal creams, commercial creams from other countries, or well-known creams that someone has added mercury to.
Anyone using a cream like this or a cream on our list should do the following: 
  • Immediately stop using the cream 
  • Ask a doctor or care provider for mercury tests in blood and urine
  • Do not throw the cream in the garbage. Put it a zipped plastic bag
  • Contact us at (510) 981-4354 or send an email to 

Educational materials and resources

For community members

Woman with her two children

Para miembros de la comunidad (en español)

CDPH Anuncio de Servicio Público

Este anuncio de servicio público fue emitido por radio en español durante el mes de julio de 2010 a lo largo de California para alertar al público acerca de las cremas para la cara que contienen mercurio. Para obtener más información, solicitar copias impresas del material educativo o información en español, comuníquese con nosotros con (510) 981-4354  o

EHIB’s work with mercury

EHIB has been conducting poisoning investigations involving mercury in blemish-removing face cream products since 2010. We have tested creams in communities and identified dozens that have tested positive for mercury.
EHIB partners with local health departments and community-based organizations to collect potentially toxic creams from stores and swap meets. EHIB and community-based organizations provide education and training to community health workers, “promotores de salud,” and others who educate community members, especially in the Central Valley. EHIB also provides technical assistance to local health departments on poisoning cases.

In September 2019, a Sacramento woman was hospitalized in a semi-comatose state after using a Pond's-labeled skin cream tainted with mercury. The woman obtained the skin cream through an informal network that imported the cream from Mexico. The mercury was not added by the Pond's manufacturer, but by a third party after purchase. Please see the Sacramento County News Release for more information. See also Tulare County News Release (PDF).

Tainted Ponds Rejuveness CreamMexican Pond's Rejuveness Cream, tainted, 2019

Related CDPH web pages

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