Spending big money on face cream products? Better pick the safe ones.
30 face cream products tested. Are the expensive ones safe?

Test-it™ Introduction

When the post-00s are using skincare products, it is not hard to imagine why the post-90s “aunties” are spend big money to stay young. Made with a wide range of essences, face creams are highly popular weapons against aging, as if they can make you look 10 years younger and freeze time. Why are they so effective? Is it because of the essences or the banned ingredients?

To find out the truth, Test-it™ selected 30 most popular face cream products in the market and joined hands with a professional laboratory to perform safety test using the world leading bio-testing technology Testing 2.0. Based on the test results, it rated 17 products as Green Fish (Excellent), 1 product as Yellow Fish (Basic) and 12 products as Red Fish (Sub-optimal).

Test-it™ found that mid-priced face cream samples had the best safety performance. Based on the results of ingredients check, banned ingredients were found in 6 of the face cream samples.

According to the World Health Organization and United Nations, choosing the wrong product could cause cancers, infertility, precocious puberty, obesity and neurological disorders. Test-it™ provides clear, direct test reports with lifestyle tips. Equipped with scientific and objective information, consumers can make safer purchasing choices. Stay tuned for more interesting facts.

Interesting Facts of Face Cream

Oil-free face cream means that it is free of mineral oil, but not grease-free.

Lotions have high water content while face creams are stronger moisturizers.

Face creams are more suitable for dry skins, while lotions are designed for oily skins.

Day cream = light + skin corrective + sun-screening, night cream = thick + moisturizing + repairing.

Face creams are thick and better in moisture-locking, hence they should be applied at the end of your skincare routine. o.

Test-it™ Reports

Test-it™ Standards

Traditional chemical Test 1.0 and existing regulations only reflect the basic requirements for market entry, not the products’ actual safety for consumption. Test-it™ applies first-in-the-world fish embryo toxicity (FET) test technology (Testing 2.0), enabling an effective and thorough examination on both acute and chronic toxicity in the tested products (effective up to several thousands of known toxicants to humans). We test and classify global products into three categories (Red, Yellow and Green Fish) through a comprehensive test system and scientific statistic analysis. We provide clear, direct test reports with lifestyle tips. Testing method varies with products.Based on the agreed scope and procedures with Vitargent, PricewaterhouseCoopers has compared the test results performed by Vitargent to the classification of tested products into green, yellow and red fish according to Test-it Standard and the numerical figures presented within the “Finding of Test-it”session in this report . For the face cream test, the transgenic medaka embryo testing for chronic toxicants, zebrafish embryo testing for acute toxicants and ingredients check are applied.

Good performance under screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and ingredients. Consumers can rest assured that the products are safe for purchase.

Indicating good performance in the screening of chronic toxicity, while meeting the safety baseline in acute toxicity and ingredient check. Consumers are recommended to purchase with caution.

Below standard under screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution.

Green Fish List
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Findings of Test-it™

1、Brand origin battle: Asian brands are safer

Face creams under the test mainly include European brands, American brands, Oceanian brands and Asian brands.

A total of 6 samples of European brands are selected, with 3 (50%) rated as Green Fish and 3 (50%) rated as Red Fish;

For the 7 American brands selected, 2 (29%) samples are rated as Green Fish and 5 (71%) samples are rated as Red Fish;

A total of 2 samples of Oceanian brands are selected, with 1 (50%) rated as Yellow Fish and 1 (50%) rated as Red Fish;

For the 15 Asian brands selected, 12 (80%) samples are rated as Green Fish and 3 (20%) samples are rated as Red Fish.

Test-it™ found that, in terms of “brand origin”, samples of Asian brands have a higher passing rate in the bio-test and 80% of the samples are rated excellent, meaning that they are safer than samples of European, American and Oceanian brands.

2、Price difference of 500 times, but more expensive doesn’t mean safer

Samples are classified into high-priced, mid-priced and low-priced:

Among the 30 samples tested, the most expensive one costs 50HKD/g, which is about 500 times of the cheapest one that costs 0.1HKD/g. The average price is 6.5HKD/g.

In terms of prices, the mid-priced and high-priced samples are safer, while the mid-priced ones had the best safety performance.

3、Acute and chronic toxicity test

Acute toxicity test

Based on the acute toxicity test, 25 (83%) out of 30 samples are rates as excellent, 3 (10%) samples are rated as basic and 2 (7%) samples are rated as sub-optimal.

Some samples caused abnormal developments of the zebrafish embryos, including heart swelling and coagulation. Certain samples even killed the embryos and failed the test.

Chronic toxicity test

Based on the chronic toxicity test, 24 (80%) out of 30 samples are rates as excellent and 6 (20%) samples are rated as sub-optimal.

The estrogen level in 6 sub-optimal samples exceeded the limit, causing medaka embryos to emit green florescence light.

4、Ingredients check

Based on the ingredients check, 24 (80%) samples are rates as excellent and 6(20%) samples contain banned ingredients.

Isobutylparaben (found in 1 sample) is a preservative in the paraben family and is an estrogen endocrine disruptor. It can be accumulated inside human body after prolonged use and therefore increase the risk of cancer. It is banned in China and the European Union;

Methylisothiazolinone (found in 3 samples) is a preservative which may cause allergy. The European Union has banned methylisothiazolinone since 16 April 2016.

Additionally, two banned colors were identified. There are Red 4 (CI 14700) banned by EU and Orange 4 (Orange 4 ) banned by US respectively.

In addition, other preservatives that may pose health threat were found in some of the samples. For example, dibutyl hydroxy toluene (found in 2 samples) may cause dermatitis and allergy as well as accelerate the growth of lung tumour; DMDM hydantoin (found in 1 sample) may cause skin allergy and release the carcinogenic formaldehyde; diazolidinyl urea (found in 1 sample) may also release carcinogenic formaldehyde.

This shows that preservatives are commonly found in face cream products. Consumers are advised to check the ingredients before purchase, so as to avoid using products with harmful of low-quality ingredients. Check out the Green Fish List of Excellent Products, which provides you with accurate and clear information for reference.

Skin Care Tips


Conventional chemical test 1.0 and the basic regulations only reflects the basic requirement for a product’s market entry. The mission of Test-it™ is to further improve product safety with world leading technology Testing 2.0. Though horizontal analysis in similar products, Test-it™ provides consumers with information and data for better consumer choices. Products are categorised as Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish according to test results.

Test-it™ has developed a high standard as a third party consumer goods evaluation platform. Developed by an experienced research and development team and an advisory board of toxicology experts from 12 countries, Test-it™ references from the global standard of China, EU, the U.S., Japan, WHO and OECD. With the application of fish embryo toxicity (FET) test technology (Testing 2.0), The standard of Test-it™ could be higher than the existing regulations.

Sampling Method

Market research and product

Test-it™ selected 30 best selling face cream products by analysing sales and attention span from the Test-it™ fans group. The research is conducted in both e-commerce platform and physical store.

  • E-commerce market research

  • Retailer market research

  • Sales volume and popularity

  • Selected products

Purchasing Method and Channel

All tested samples were purchased by Test-it as a common customer. Samples were purchased from the brands’ official beauty counters and their globally recognised sales channels ( official flagship stores ) on major E-commerce platforms ( JD, Tmall, Koala, Amazon) . All sample were purchased anonymously.In order to maintain neutrality and objectiveness, Test-it reports will not accept products submitted by manufactures.

  • Represent common consumers

  • Reliable sales channel

  • Anounymous purchase

  • No manufacturer sampling

Test Method

1、Transgenic medaka embryo testing for chronic toxicants.

2、Zebrafish embryo testing for acute toxicants

3、Ingredients check

Vitargent adopts an exclusive ingredients screening system comparing restricted and high risk ingredients regulated by the CODEX Alimentarius of the WHO&FAO, USFDA, EU, Food and Drug Administration of Japan and China to further enhance product safety.

Ingredient Screening: Products must not contain any chemicals that are associated with health complications, eco-toxicity, or contamination by scientific safety evaluations, or are banned by the following governmental agencies and authoritative bodies.

US: USFDA’s ‘Summary of colour additives for use in the United States in foods, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices’, ‘Prohibited & Restricted Ingredients’, and 'Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS)'.

EU: European Commission Nos. 1333/2008, 1223/2009, 1129/2011, and 1130/2011, and Candidate List of substances of very high concern for Authorisation (SVHC) by European Chemicals Agency (2017).

China: China FDA’s ‘Safety and Technical Standard for Cosmetics’ (2015), and 'National food safety standards: food additive standard (GB2760-2014).

Japan: Japan’s ‘Standards for Cosmetics’ (2000), and 'Standard for use of food additives (2017)

WHO&FAO: CODEX Alimentarius

Results Analyzing Method

Category Medaka embryo testing for chronic toxicants Zebrafish embryo testing for acute toxicants Ingredients check
Pass safety threhold referring to WHO guideline on Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) Meet fish embryo test standard at high concentration No banned or high concernedingredients

Pass safety threhold referring to WHO guideline on Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) Meet fish embryo test standard at normal concentration No banned but contain high concerned ingredients

Fail (reading exceed ADI or over 50% fish death at Vitargent category-based reference line ) Fail fish embryo test standard at normal concentration Contain banned ingredients

Selected Awards

Hong Kong Technological Achievement Award(2014) Davos Global Innovation Pioneer (2015) Geneva International Inventions 43rd Grand Prix Winner (2015) World Intellectual Property Organization Gold Medal (2016) APEC & GIC Future Maker (2016) Unreasonable Impact (2017)


  • 1.This report is conducted in random sampling method with laboratory standard operating procedures. All samples were purchased by our staff members through normal sales channels as a common customer.
  • 2.Green Fish indicates excellent quality.
  • 3.Green Fish indicates products show excellent quality in this test, listed in no particular order.
  • 4.All tests are conducted in Vitargent’s laboratories in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Belgium.
  • 5.This test was conducted under the principle of consumer goods comparison. The test results only indicate quality of the very sample. They do not reflect quality of other products under the same brand (same or different models ) nor the products’ quality in different batches. The test results are provided solely for your personal, non-commercial use. No promotion or recommendation of any products are intended. By no means should the results be taken as medical advice. Consultation with doctors and healthcare professionals are recommended before employing the test results. The test results are not to be mistaken as medical advice for diagnosis, treatment, or recommendations for health conditions. We are not responsible or liable for anyone using the results of this report.
  • 6.All tests are conducted by Vitargent. PricewaterhouseCoopers is not responsible or liable for anyone using the results of this report.
  • 7.The test results are provided solely for your personal, non-commercial consumer reference. The references of product qualities and recommendations hold no legal validity nor guarantee. Any business and consumer decision made by users is an independent action on their behalves. We are not responsible or liable for any dispute caused.
  • 8.You may not derive for commercial use or promotional actives any data from this report in any corporate and organisations, unless you obtain prior permission from Test-it™.
  • 9.All information and data in the report are dated to 12 Mar, 2018, information are updated constantly according to the testing results released by other authorities .
  • 10.For more information, please see Terms, Conditions and User Agreement.http://w2.fishqc.net/pdf/Terms_and_Conditions.pdfhttp://w2.fishqc.net/pdf/Terms_and_Conditions.pdf
From · Test-it™· 2018/03/13