Risks of beauty-care facial sheets unmasked

Top News | Sophie Hui 19 Apr 2017

Half of the sheet masks sold for skin care contain preservatives that may cause allergies while expensive ones do not moisturize the face as well as expected, the Consumer Council has found.

The watchdog tested 40 models of masks available in Hong Kong that claim to moisturize the face, and found that three contain the preservative methylisothiazolinone - or MIT - which has been banned in skin-care products in Europe because of possible allergic reactions, including inflamed skin, itchiness and rashes.

The cheapest beauty-care mask examined was Besilke moisturizing and whitening mineral spring, costing HK$3.10 a sheet. It was found to contain 0.013 percent of MIT, exceeding the limit of 0.01 percent in the mainland.

There is no Hong Kong law regulating preservatives in masks, but the council has passed the test results to the Customs and Excise Department for follow-up.

The agent of Besilke, Hin Sang Hong, said it has sent the product for tests and has no comment on the council's results.

A mask called Eau Thermale Avene hydrance optimale, which claims to be a hydrating mask for sensitive Asian skin, was found to contain migratable fluorescent materials. Although the materials will not harm the users' health, they could remain on the face, causing embarrassment to users when under UV light.

The watchdog tested the moisturizing effects of the masks using a scale of five points - the higher the score the better moisturizing performance - and found that the prices did not necessarily correlate to quality.

The priciest ones by Lancome and Shiseido cost HK$108.30 and HK$100 a sheet respectively but scored only three points, while seven cheaper models obtained four points, and five of them were priced below HK$20 per sheet. They are Utena Puresa rose extract mask, Mandom Barrier Repair facial mask moist, Leaders Aquaringer skin clinic mask, Ettusais skin version up super mask and Kracie Hadabisei moisturizing facial mask (extra rich).

Although half of the tested models contain preservatives, most did not exceed the limit set by the mainland and the European Union. While the council was satisfied with the overall results, it reminded consumers to be cautious when choosing beauty products.

"When you come across any new masks or new similar items, try first and do not go straight in," said Wong Kam- fai, chairman of the council's research and testing committee. "For example, you try to take some fluid inside the package and put it somewhere on your cheek to see if you have rash or any irritable reactions later on."

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