SK-II will co-operate with investigation after chemical claims Cosmetics brand SK-II agreed at the weekend to give mainland customers refunds for nine facial products that regulators say contain banned chemicals. And the company said it would work closely with the government investigation. In Hong Kong, the company said it was possible its products contained trace amounts of chromium and neodymium. But if they did, it was because the chemicals were widely found in nature, it said. In advertisements taken out in major Chinese-language newspapers yesterday, SK-II said trace amounts of the substances were allowed under both European Union directives and guidelines by the US-based Cosmetics, Toiletry and Fragrance Association. Last week, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said its Guangdong branch had found chromium and neodymium in nine SK-II products imported from Japan. The administration said the two types of chemicals could cause skin diseases and even lung and liver damage if inhaled. Cosmetics chain Sasa announced it had stopped selling five SK-II products and offered full refunds to customers within 14 days of purchase. SK-II is owned by Procter and Gamble and, as one of the most expensive and well-known cosmetics brands available on the mainland, the allegations have attracted much media attention. At Beijing's Scitech Group shopping mall yesterday, the nine disputed products had been pulled from shelves and saleswomen were helping customers with refunds. One shopper said she had gone to inquire about a refund on behalf of a friend who used the brand. She did not use SK-II because she did not buy Japanese products. 'I don't distrust Japanese products. I think their quality is generally good, but I just reject Japanese products out of resentment towards the Japanese government,' she said. Beijing teacher Wang Qiaoling said she had used SK-II products for about six months and was upset to hear about the claims. 'As a customer, we know too little about a company's products. Facial products are supposed to improve the condition of the skin. If using a product could lead to a worse result, I would not use it and would prefer to have bad skin,' Ms Wang said. She was also upset with the government for failing to protect the public. 'SK-II has been on the Chinese market for so many years. Why has the government only just found the problem? Have they been doing their duty?' Last year, a woman from Jiangxi province took Proctor and Gamble to court over its SK-II anti-ageing cream, charging that it had caused a painful allergic reaction. The case was dismissed, but the company was fined 200,000 yuan by Nanchang commerce authorities for exaggerating the ability of one of its products to prevent wrinkles.