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The regulation of the sale of skin lightening creams in South Africa.

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And her skin was as white as milk, her hair was as smooth as silk and her eyes were as blue as the deep blue sea.. . It is a common misconception that many people equate fairness with beauty however, little do they know of the harm that is associated with attaining such beauty. Consumers who purchase skin lightening creams that contain banned and/or illegal substances such as mercury and hydroquinone suffer from permanent skin damage and impairment as a result of the use of such creams. These skin lightening creams constitute defective goods and are not allowed to be sold as cosmetics. The common law remedies available to consumers for the sale of defective goods are limited and consumers are usually not entitled to claim consequential damages. Often consumers are only entitled to repayment of the purchase price which is not ideal as the damages suffered as a result of defective skin lightening creams is exorbitant in comparison to the price paid. There are certain statutes which are applicable however the penalties are criminal in nature and are insufficient to deter unscrupulous suppliers from continuing to supply consumers with these skin lightening creams. Lack of effective monitoring also appears to be a major concern. The introduction of the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (CPA), has improved the rights of consumers considerably as the CPA contains a host of consumer rights, as well as mechanisms providing access to redress for affected consumers. Consumers are now entitled to hold anyone in the supply chain liable for the supply of defective goods and there are administrative penalties available against a supplier who is found to have supplied defective goods. In the light of the introduction of the CPA, this dissertation focusses on the legal responsibilities of suppliers in relation to the sale of defective goods as well as the rights of recourse available to consumers who suffer damages as a result of using such defective products.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.