Our fields of research

During the last years, illegal cosmetics flood the EU market via internet and a so-called 'black market'. An important group of illegal cosmetics consists of skin bleaching agents, which are usually applied to the skin of the face, hands and other parts of the body for depigmentation of hyperpigmented regions, but more importantly, for general reduction of the skin tone. These cosmetic products contain illegal active substances that may provoke as well local (ochronosis, irritant dermatitis, leukoderma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) as systemic toxic (nephrotic and liver problems) effects, being the reason for their banning from the EU market. As no reliable information is available on the dimension of the problem and the harmful effects for the consumers, the IVTD group and the Scientific Institute for Public Health (WIV-ISP) started the collaborative research project ILCOS.

The project consists of an analytical and a biopharmaceutical part. First, a screening technique for the most relevant bleaching agents has been developed, followed by the establishment of quantitative and sensitive analytical analyses covering the major actives and the most common formulations identified on the illegal market. This analytical part is fitting into a general initiative of the EDQM (European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines & Health Care) to modernise the analysis of cosmetics and their ingredients. In the biopharmaceutical oriented part of the project, the systemic availability of the topically applied major bleaching agents is investigated by using in vitro dermal absorption technology.



Prof. Kristien De Paepe
Dr. Bart Desmedt (PhD since September 2015)


Relevant Publications

  • Desmedt B., Rogiers V., Courselle P., De Beer J.O., De Paepe K., Deconinck E. (2013) “Development and validation of a chromatographic method for screening and quantification of legal and illegal whitening agents”. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis 83(2013): 82-88.
  • Bart Desmedt, Patricia Courselle, Jacques De Beer, Vera Rogiers, Kristien De Paepe, Eric Deconinck. Illegale huidblekende cosmetica op de Belgischemarkt (Des cosmétiques dépigmentants illégaux sur le marché belge), SKIN 16 No1, 1-4.
  • Desmedt B., Courselle P., De Beer J. O., Rogiers V., Deconinck E., De Paepe K (2014) “Illegal cosmetics on the EU market: a threat for human health?”. Archives of Toxicology, 88, 1765–6.
  • Desmedt B., Van Hoeck E., Rogiers V., Courselle P., De Beer J.o., De Paepe K., Deconinck E. (2014) Characterization of suspected illegal skin whitening cosmetics. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis 90: 85-91.