Date
22 September 2017
More than 60 percent of shampoo samples tested by Hong Kong's consumer watchdog were found to contain allergy-causing 1,4-dioxane. Photos: HKEJ, Internet
More than 60 percent of shampoo samples tested by Hong Kong's consumer watchdog were found to contain allergy-causing 1,4-dioxane. Photos: HKEJ, Internet

Consumer Council sounds warning over shampoo allergens

Hong Kong’s Consumer Council said on Tuesday that tests showed that most shampoo products available in the market contain ingredients that can cause skin allergies.

Of 60 shampoo samples that the consumer watchdog tested, 38, or more than 60 percent, were found to contain allergy-causing 1,4-dioxane, it said.

And 20 percent of the samples were found to contain preservatives MIT (methylisothiazolinone) and/or CMIT (methylchloroisothiazolinone).

Seven of the samples had a 1,4-dioxane content between 12 ppm and 24 ppm, exceeding the safety standard of 10 ppm for cosmetics recommended by EU’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety.

To find out if shampoo products are really free of allergy-causing substances as their manufacturers claim, the Consumer Council tested various shampoo brands.

The products tested include those from well-known brands such as VS Sassoon, Pantene, Clairol, Head and Shoulders and Elence, and whose prices ranged from HK$45 to HK$390.

Releasing the findings Tuesday, the consumer watchdog called on the government to strengthen regulations on product labeling, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

According to the council, 1,4-dioxane is not an ingredient of cosmetics products and therefore not listed on labels.

It is likely to be produced during the process in which manufacturers add surfactants to shampoo products so as to achieve cleaning effects through emulsification and bubbling.

While 1,4-dioxane can be easily washed away and poses no safety risk in normal usage of shampoo, the council warned that some people may still experience skin irritation.

The watchdog’s chief executive, Gilly Wong Fung-han, said those who have more sensitive skin, suffer from skin disease or are physically weaker are prone to be affected by 1,4-dioxane.

The substance can not only affect the skin but also the eyes and the respiratory system.

Dr. Kingsley Chan Hau-ngai, a dermatologist, reminded people with hair loss problem to pay extra attention to the shampoos they use.

Using shampoos with MIT or CMIT preservatives on open wounds can lead to greater risk of adverse discomfort, the doctor warned.

People who have lasting scalp irritation should switch to other brands of shampoo as soon as possible or seek medical care.

The Consumer Council warned that fragrances of shampoo products, which are a main factor affecting many consumers’ buying decisions, are a common source of allergy that could cause skin irritation.

Of 43 samples that were labeled as having fragrance ingredients, 17 contained allergy-causing substances, tests showed.

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