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Consumer protection in Hong Kong

HK$20 Miniso facial cleanser just as good as pricey SK-II version, Hong Kong Consumer Council finds

  • Test by consumer watchdog focused on chemical and microbiological analyses as well as product labelling
  • Council studied 60 facial cleansing products and found nine contained allergy-causing substances
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 November, 2018, 6:30pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2018, 5:10am

A facial cleanser more than 20 times cheaper than a rival product has been rated the same in a study released by Hong Kong’s consumer watchdog on Thursday.

Eyebrows were raised by a Consumer Council report, which gave Japanese brand SK-II’s Facial Treatment Gentle Cleanser and low-cost retailer Miniso’s Rice Cleansing Foam the same marks – five points out of five.

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The watchdog’s test focused on chemical and microbiological analyses as well as product labelling.

The Japanese product costs HK$410 ($US52) for 120 grams while the latter, from China, is priced at HK$20 ($US2.55) for the same amount – or more than 20 times cheaper.

“This reveals quality products selling at affordable prices can be found in the market,” the council said.

The council studied 60 facial cleansing products and found nine contained allergy-causing substances.

Professor Wong Kam-fai, chairman of the council’s trade practices and consumer complaints review committee, said the preservative methylisothiazolinone (MIT) was detected in five of them while two also contained CMIT, or methylchloroisothiazolinone, another preservative. Both ingredients could cause itchiness and rashes.

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Although all five products fell within mainland China’s safety and technical standards for cosmetics, 2015 version, one Mentholatum product called Oil Control-Icy Oil Control Foaming Wash exceeded the latest European Union cosmetics regulation limit for MIT by 4.5 times.

“Relatively, the product would pose a higher risk. But it doesn’t mean using it must bring risks because it depends on one’s skin texture,” council chief executive Gilly Wong Fung-han said.

Mentholatum’s agent said the MIT content of the product fulfilled previous EU requirements and the company was working to update the formula.

Meanwhile, another four products were found to contain the allergy-causing chemical free formaldehyde.

Although all were within mainland and EU safety limits, the council said people with wounds or prone to skin allergies should be cautious because a relatively small amount of free formaldehyde could potentially cause an allergy.

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The study also found 19 products failed to list their full ingredients in detail, prompting the council to urge manufacturers to improve their labelling.

It urged consumers to read the information on the products carefully to understand the ingredients and expiry dates.