Vitargent published safe to buy list of face cream rated “Green Fish”
Wrinkles, dry skin and skin scraping could result from ageing and seasonal changes. Applying decent amount of face cream moisturises and protects the skin. Apart from brand preferences, skin type and price, some consumers make their face cream choices based on the special features listed on the ingredient labels. For example: skin tightening, moisturizing, whitening, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, allergy relief and sunscreen. However, the public may overlook the risk of health threats from the special features chemicals. From July to August 2017, Vitargent collected 30 samples from 30 brands for toxicity tests from local Watsons, cosmetic counters and online platforms (Joyby, Tmall). The brands included SK-II、Estee Lauder、Laneige，FANCL.
Vitargent performed tests on face cream samples by adopting the Testing 2.0 technology, which is a patented fish embryo bio-testing technology. Under which, samples are categorised as Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish according to product safety. The test result was published on the online consumer product safety information platform, Test-it™, for consumers to recognise safe products sold by retailers. Test-it™ benchmarks against the national and regional product safety standards, including those imposed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Union (EU), the USA, China and Japan, as well as the list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) prepared by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Horizontal analysis against similar products was also conducted to establish safety standards:
➢ Green Fish means “Excellence” in terms of safety, indicating good performance in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers can rest assured that the products are safe for purchase;
➢ Yellow Fish means “Basic” in terms of safety, meaning a product meets the safety baselines in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with caution;
➢ Red Fish means “Sub-Optimal” in terms of safety, indicating a product is below standard in one or more criteria in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution.
Among the 10 samples that costed less than 2.7HKD/g, 4 (40%) samples were rated Green Fish, 6 (60%) were rated Red Fish.
Among the 30 sample, 18 samples were manufactured in Asia (China, Japan, Korea and Indonesia). 12 were rated Green Fish (67%), 6 (33%) were rated Red Fish. For the 5 samples produced in Europe (France, UK), 3 were rated Green Fish (60%) while 2 were rated Red Fish. (40%) Among the 5 samples manufactured in America(US), 2 samples (40%) were rated Green Fish, 3 (60%) were rated Red Fish. 2 samples were produced in Oceana (Australia, New Zealand). 1 (50%) was rated Yellow Fish and 1 (50%) was rated Red Fish.
In conclusion of brand origins and production comparison, due to the insignificant amount of samples from a certain regions, the result does not reflect the differences between the two. However, Asian and European samples showed a well-balanced overall performance. It is a good sign for the public.
In the transgenic medic embryo for chronic toxicants, 6 samples failed the toxicity test. When transgenic embryos are exposed to the chronic toxicants (xenoestrongens) in the face cream, their liver glows in green. The glow intensity quantifies toxicants in the samples. The World Health Organization had stated that xenoestrogen could lead to health threats including cancers ( breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, thyroid cancer etc.), decreased reproductive ability, nervous system dysfunction and diabetes.”
“We have anticipated the test results, since some of the samples contained chemical preservatives, toxicity in samples would increase under both individual and compound effects. During the randomly sampling, our team discovered 18 samples contained different chemical preservatives. 6 of which contained internationally prohibited ingredients. Isobutylaparaben (found in 1 sample) is banned by EU and China in year 2014 and 2015 respectively. Methylisothiazolinone, MI (found in 3 samples) was listed as prohibited10 ingredient by the EU in year 2016. Ci 14700 / red 4 was listed as prohibited10 by the EU in year 2009. Orange 4 was banned by the US Furthermore, other common preservatives were also found in the face cream samples, including Butylated hydroxytoluene, BHT (found in 2 samples), DMDMH (found in 1 sample) and Paraben preservatives (found in 11 samples). BHT could lead to skin rashes and allergies. International toxicology studies indicate that excessive intake could lead to accelerated tumor growth in lung cancers. EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, SCCS had proven that DMDMH could release formaldehyde carcinogen that causes skin stimulation and leads cancers with chronic consumption. Paraben is a known xenoestrogen that could lead to health threats listed above including cancers. Pregnant women may even pass the xenoestrogen on to the next generation. It is scientifically proven that these substances are found in breast milk, breast tissues, cord blood and even in the placenta, taken in through the baby’s brain, respiratory system, intestines and skin. It could cause health problems like development deformity or precocious puberty and obesity.”
Jimmy Tao pointed out that the current regulation of cosmetics, skin care products and slimming health food in Hong Kong is underdeveloped. New amendments are already made in other countries to regulate Paraben preservatives. Denmark became the first to ban Paraben preservatives in children products since 2012. According to EU’s cosmetic regulations EC1223/2009 and China’s cosmetic safety regulations, 5 Paraben preservatives were banned since year 2014 and 2015. The preservatives included Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Phenylparaben, Benzylparaben and Pentylparaben. Currently, Propylparaben and Methylparabena are the most commonly used paraben preservatives. The public can make smart choices by carefully examining the ingredient labels.
On one more note, allergen (6 samples) and wax (3 samples) were found in the face cream samples. Eugenol Eugenol, Coumarin, hydroxycitronellal, Geraniol, Citronellol, Benzyl Alcohol, D-limonene limonene are known allergens for fragrance enhancement which lead to skin allergy, itch and pigmented cosmetic dermatitis. Wax including Petroleum jelly and petrolatum are low cost and common moisturizers, however they are ineffective in terms of locking in the moisture. Compared to other skin tissues, lips are more sensitive to allergies.
Dr Hui explained that the main function of face creams is to act as a natural barrier for the skin. It forms a thin mask over the skin surface, reduces water loss and helps moisturising. A good face cream must contain the functions of moisturising and softening. Moisturisers help absorbing water deep into the dermis. The most common ones are propylene glycol, glycerin and butylene glycol. Softeners are usually added into face creams to smoothen the skin surface to make it soft and elastic. The most common ones are jojoba oil or was. Furthermore, some face creams contain natural or compound preservatives. To a certain extent, preservatives protects the product as they prolong bacteria growth or spoiling from chemical changes. However, there are good and bad preservatives. The public should recognise toxic preservatives (i.e. Paraben) and pay attention to ingredient labels on the face creams. Be alert about the major ingredients on the top (represents high percentage in the formula), prevent additives including fragrances, alcohol, alcohol dent etc, and choose products fit for their own skin type.