Eyeshadows found to contain too much lead and bacteria

Consumers warned to stop using two make-up brands that tests show exceed safety limits

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 September, 2012, 3:24am

Consumers should stop using two eyeshadow products that contain excessive lead and bacteria, the Consumer Council warned yesterday.

VOV Eyeshadow Soft-light Shine had a lead content of 400 parts per million (ppm) - far above the 40ppm safety limit under the national Hygienic Standard for Cosmetics - the council said.

Philip Leung Kwong-hon, vice-chairman of the council's publicity and community relations committee, said the excessive lead could harm the nervous system and kidney functions.

Contamination was found when the consumer watchdog tested 41 kinds of eyeshadow - 33 single-colour and eight multi-colour products - with retail prices ranging from HK$10 to HK$260.

The Cosmetic and Perfumery Association of Hong Kong says it is normal for cosmetic products to contain lead, as most are made of natural substances that contain the metal. But the amount must meet safety standards.

Connie Lau Yin-hing, the council's chief executive, called for new laws requiring manufacturers to list product ingredients and expiry dates. Currently, cosmetic products sold in the city are regulated by the Consumer Good Safety Ordinance.

A second eyeshadow, Beauty Tech Eye Colour, exceeded the national limit for bacteria content, the tests found. The Guangzhou-made product had an aerobic bacterial count of 820 colony-forming units per gram (CFU/g), which exceeds the mainland limit of 500 CFU/g.

Retailers of the lead-contaminated eyeshadow have stopped selling the product and other items under the same brand.

Those stocking the bacteria-tainted product have reported the findings to the manufacturer and stopped buying any of its products, the council reported.

The watchdog advised consumers to choose eyeshadows with a clear expiry date, and said it would be preferable if a "best before date" and "period of time after opening" were provided.

It also said consumers should not share eye cosmetics with others, and should avoid applying the products with their fingers.