In recent times, there has been a growing concern about the presence of mercury in topical products, particularly those claiming to offer skin lightening or brightening benefits. In addition to being an overall toxic heavy metal, mercury is known to inhibit melanin production and is sometimes added into products that carry a skin whitening claim, often without being put on the label. Due to the negative PR received when mercury-containing skin lightening products were found being distributed on their platform, Amazon has begun taken proactive measures. As a result, our analytical testing laboratory has begun to receive requests from Amazon sellers who have been instructed by Amazon to seek a lab test verifying that there is no excessive mercury in their topical products. In this blog post, we shed light on the history of mercury in skin lightening products, the importance of compliance testing, and how our validated ICP-MS analysis is helping sellers demonstrate product safety.

The History of Mercury in Skin Lightening Products

For decades, mercury has been used as an agent in skin lightening products due to its ability to inhibit melanin production. Unfortunately, many manufacturers have not always disclosed the presence of mercury on product labels. This lack of transparency has led to widespread health concerns, as mercury can be absorbed through the skin and cause adverse effects ranging from skin irritation to severe neurological damage. In 2020, CBC Marketplace pulled skin lightening products from retail locations and had them lab tested, many contained high levels of mercury or hydroquinone.

Amazon’s Response to Mercury Concerns

In 2019, Amazon faced media attention due to reports of skin lightening products sold on its platform containing alarmingly high levels of mercury. In response to these findings, Amazon has taken steps to address the issue and prioritize customer safety. Though no official rule has been posted on their Seller Central page, we have seen through customer requests Amazon is now mandating independent lab tests to confirm that topical products carrying skin lightening or brightening claims meet the safety standards outlined in 21 CFR 700.13.

Our Role in Mercury Compliance Testing

As a reputable analytical testing laboratory, we have been approached by numerous Amazon sellers seeking validation of their products’ mercury compliance. Our validated Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) analysis is well-suited for testing mercury levels in topical products, aligning with the requirements of 21 CFR 700.13 and Health Canada’s Limits for Heavy Metals in Cosmetics and NHPs.

Compliance with 21 CFR 700.13

According to 21 CFR 700.13, general topical products must not contain more than 1 ppm of mercury. Under-eye products may have higher mercury levels, up to 65 ppm, if mercury is used as a preservative. Our advanced ICP-MS technology at our ISO 17025 and GMP accredited laboratory allows us to accurately measure mercury levels in cosmetics, providing crucial information to both sellers and consumers about product safety and compliance.

Ensuring Customer Safety

At our laboratory, we take pride in contributing to the safety and well-being of consumers. By helping Amazon sellers demonstrate mercury compliance, we play a pivotal role in ensuring that products sold on the platform adhere to strict safety standards. With our ICP-MS analysis, sellers can confidently present their skin lightening or brightening products as being sufficiently low in mercury, earning the trust of their customers.


The presence of mercury in skin lightening products has raised serious health concerns, prompting Amazon to request independent lab tests to verify compliance with safety standards. Our analytical testing laboratory offers a validated ICP-MS analysis, enabling Amazon sellers to demonstrate that their topical products meet the requirements of 21 CFR 700.13. By working together to prioritize safety, we can help build a marketplace where consumers can confidently choose skin lightening products that are both effective and safe. If you are an Amazon seller in need of mercury compliance testing for your skin lightening or brightening products, contact us today, and let us contribute to the safety of your customers and your brand’s reputation.

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