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J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2013 Sep;83:82-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2013.04.020. Epub 2013 May 4.

Development and validation of a fast chromatographic method for screening and quantification of legal and illegal skin whitening agents.

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Division of Food, Medicines and Consumer Safety, Section Medicinal Products, Scientific Institute of Public Health (IPH), Juliette wytsmanstraat 14, 1050 Brussels, Belgium.


During the last years, the EU market is flooded by illegal cosmetics via the Internet and a so-called "black market". Among these, skin-bleaching products represent an important group. They contain, according to the current European cosmetic legislation (Directive 76/768/EEC), a number of illegal active substances including hydroquinone, tretinoin and corticosteroids. These may provoke as well local as systemic toxic effects, being the reason for their banning from the EU market. To control this market there is a need for a fast screening method capable of detecting illegal ingredients in the wide variety of existing bleaching cosmetic formulations. In this paper the development and validation of an ultra high pressure liquid chromatographic (UHPLC) method is described. The proposed method makes use of a Waters Acquity BEH shield RP18 column with a gradient using 25 mM ammonium borate buffer (pH 10) and acetonitrile. This method is not only able to detect the major illegal (hydroquinone, tretinoin and six dermatologic active corticosteroids) and legal whitening agents, the latter having restrictions with respect to concentration and application (kojic acid, arbutin, nicotinamide and salicylic acid), but can also quantify these in a run time of 12 min. The method was successfully validated using the "total error" approach in accordance with the validation requirements of ISO-17025. During the validation a variety of cosmetic matrices including creams, lotions and soaps were taken into consideration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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