Vitargent published safe to buy list of lip balms rated “Green Fish”
(Hong Kong, 17 October 2017) Vitargent (International) Biotechnology Limited (“Vitargent”) is known for the earlier published safety examination of cooking oil, BB cream, instant coffee, sun cream and ice-cream on Test-itTM platform (www.fishqc.com), and Vitargent is now extending the investigation to lip alm products with the world-exclusive “transgenic medaka” and “zebrafish” embryo toxicity testing technology that was developed by Hong Kong scientists. Test result of 31 popular lip balm product samples have been published, and the safety test rated 16 samples as Green Fish (excellent), 4 samples as Yellow Fish (basic), and 11 samples as Red Fish (sub-optimal). Among the 8 sunscreen lip balm samples, 7 of them failed to comply with the Medaka embryo testing for chronic toxicants (xenoestrogens), and the level of estrogenic endocrine disruptors (EEDs) in lip balms of several international brands has severely exceeded Vitargent’s standard by 11 times. In Zebrafish embryo testing for acute toxicants, some samples have exceeded the safety standard by 24 times, and the poison effect is suspected to be the consequence of ingredients such as Retinyl Palmitate, Benzophenone-3, Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) etc., exhibited biological toxicity alone or in the form of mixture. Consumers are recommended to pay special attention on choosing lip balms, and should consider products with less extra ingredients and functions.
Vitargent detected toxic chemicals in lip balm with innovative bio-testing technology Testing 2.0
Autumn is around the corner and it’s time to protect lips from drying out with lip balm. However, some packaging of lip balms claims extra functions such as pharmaceutical sunscreen, water resistant, rectifying lip wrinkles and dull colors, recovering pressured skin cells and more. Consumers might overlook that the extra functions come with chemical substances which potentially raises health risk under excessive intake. With that in mind, Vitargent has collected 31 lip balm samples during April and May among 30 brands from beauty halls, Watson’s and online shopping platforms such as Kaola.com, Jingdong and Tmall and put them to the fish embryo toxicity test. Its samples came from world famous brands like NIVEA, Innisfree, CUREL, KIEHL’s, MAYBELLINE, Mentholatum and more.
Vitargent performed tests on lip balm samples by adopting the Testing 2.0 technology, which is a patented fish embryo bio-testing technology. Under which, samples are categorised as Green Fish, Yellow Fish and Red Fish according to product safety. The test result was published on the online consumer product safety information platform, Test-it™, for consumers to recognise safe products sold by retailers. Test-it™ also benchmarks against the national and regional product safety standards, including those imposed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Union (EU), the USA, China and Japan, as well as the list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) prepared by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Horizontal analysis against similar products was also conducted to establish safety standards:
- Green Fish means “Excellence” in terms of safety, indicating good performance in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers can rest assured that the products are safe for purchase;
- Yellow Fish means “Basic” in terms of safety, meaning a product meets the safety baselines in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with caution;
- Red Fish means “Sub-Optimal” in terms of safety, indicating a product is below standard in one or more criteria in the screening of acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients. Consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution.
Lower priced lip balms are safer than mid, higher priced lip balms; Most Asian brands are rated as Green Fish
Among the 31 lip balm samples, Test-itTM rated 16 samples as Green Fish (excellent), 4 samples as Yellow fish (basic) and 11 samples as Red Fish (sub-optimal).
In terms of price, among the 31 samples collected, the average price is 15.3HKD/gram. The cheapest one costs 2.2HKD/gram, which is around 26 times cheaper than the most expensive one which costs 56.9HKD/gram.
Among the 10 samples that cost lower than 7.5HKD/gram, 6 samples were rated Green Fish (60%), 2 were rated Yellow Fish (20%), and 2 were rated Red Fish (20%).
Among the 11 samples that cost between 7.5HKD/gram and 15HKD/gram, 5 samples were rated Green Fish (45.5%), 1 was rated Yellow Fish (9%), and 5 were rated as Red Fish (45.5%).
Among the 10 samples that cost more than 15HKD/gram, 5 were rated Green Fish (50%), 1 was rated Yellow Fish (10%), and 4 were rated Red Fish (40%).
All in all, lower priced lip balms are safer than mid, higher priced lip balms, with 60% of them passing the safety test and rated as Green Fish; whereas a 40% Red Fish rating is observed among mid, higher priced lip balms, consumers are recommended to purchase with extra caution.
In terms of brand origins, Vitargent selected products from Asia, Europe, America and Oceania region.
Among the 6 samples of Asia brand (Mainland China, Japan, Korea), 4 samples were rated Green Fish (66.7%), 1 was rated Yellow Fish (16.7%), and 1 was rated Red Fish (16.7%). Among the 7 samples of Europe brand (France, Germany), 4 were rated Green Fish (57%), 1 was rated as Yellow Fish (14%), and 2 were rated as Red Fish (29%). Among the 16 samples of America brand (the USA), 7 samples were rated Green Fish (44%), 2 were rated Yellow Fish (12%), and 7 were rated as Red Fish (44%). Among the 2 samples of Oceania brand (New Zealand, Australia), 1 was rated as Green Fish (50%), and 1 was rated as Red Fish (50%).
For the place of manufacture, samples selected were manufactured from China, Korea, Japan, France, Germany, the USA and Australia.
Among the 31 samples, all 5 samples from Mainland China were rated as Green Fish (100%), 2 samples from Korea were rated as Red Fish (100%). Out of the 2 samples from Japan, 1 was rated as Green Fish (50%), and 1 was rated as Yellow Fish (50%). Out of the 6 samples from France, 3 samples were rated as Green Fish (50%), 1 was rated as Yellow Fish (17%), and 2 were rated as Red Fish (33%). Out of the 2 samples from Germany, 1 was rated as Green Fish (50%), and 1 was rated as Red Fish (50%). Out of the 13 samples from the USA, 6 samples were rated as Green Fish (46%), 2 were rated Yellow Fish (15%), and 5 were rated Red Fish (39%). 1 sample was from Australia and it was rated as Red Fish (100%).
To wrap up, in terms of brand origins Asia has the best performance when compared to Europe, America and Oceania region, with more than 60% of the samples rated as Green Fish. Place of manufacture wise results are similar with brand origins comparison with Asia performing better, Mainland China in particular.
Close to 90% of the selected sunscreen lip balms failed Medaka embryo testing for chronic toxicants; containing xenoestrogens which affects endocrine system
Vitargent’s Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Tao said,” In this test we have selected 31 lip balm samples in total, among them 8 comes with a sunscreen function. Our bio-toxicity test identified 7 out of the 8 samples with sunscreen function failed Medaka embryo testing for chronic toxicants, estrogenic endocrine disrupting chemicals will trigger green fluorescence in our fish liver and were rated as Red Fish. Our team identified various sunscreen chemical components among the Red Fish list such as Benzophenone-3 (found in 6 samples), Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (found in 8 samples), Octocrylene (found in 2 samples), HymamateDimethyl PABA ethylhexyl ester, Ethylhexyl salicylate and Butylmethoxy dibenzylmethane.All the above belong to the xenoestrogens family and may potentially create a poison effect on living species. According to the WHO and United Nations, EEDs may cause cancer, reduce reproductive success, lead to immune disorder, precocious puberty and diabetes, among other health effects.”
Jimmy Tao also pointed out,” The test also revealed lip balms of several world class brands has an 11 times EED level over Vitargent’s safety standard, the highest EED level amount the samples were found to contain 10,919 ng of EEDs per gram (a lip balm weighs around 3.5-15 grams). According to European Commission SCCS Notes of Guidance for the Testing of Cosmetic SCCS/1564/15, average daily consumption of lip care products should be 0.057 ng, and this already represent an over consumption of EED.”
As for the Zebrafish embryo testing for acute toxicants, there are 8 samples failing the safety test. Among which the sample with the highest acute toxicants is 24 times higher than Vitargent’s safety standard. The team found toxicants such as Benzophenone-3, Retinyl Palmitate, Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), Citral etc., which may exhibit biological toxicity alone or in the form of mixture. In the presence of toxic substances, the embryo development will be affected, and adverse effects such as tumor, heart edema; severe malform, or even death directly.
Vitargent’s Chief Technology Officer and UK and EU Registered Toxicologist Dr. Xueping, Chen gave us an illustration,” Benzophenone-3 screens UVB and part of UVA. It can penetrate the skin and create skin allergies. In particular the chemical will interfere with the body’s endocrine system, change estrogen levels and affect normal puberty development. EWG (Environmental Working Group) strongly recommends that you do not choose cosmetics that contain this ingredient; Retinyl Palmitate is a derivative of vitamin A, with antioxidant, which can be preservative. However, it has been clinically proven that excessive intake of vitamin A has the opportunity to affect fat metabolism, leading to increased liver toxicity, middle-aged women with decreased bone density and easy to fracture, and even fetal malformations. The Norwegian health department warned pregnant women and breastfeeding women to avoid the use of vitamin A-containing products in 2012; Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) is a preservative that can cause dermatitis and allergies and have the opportunity to accelerate lung cancer. In addition, 15 samples were found to add paraffin components such as Petroleum jelly, petrolatum, mineral oil and so on. Paraffin wax is a cheap and widely used moisturizing substance, but because of its poor moisturizing function, it fails to lock the water, while creating a chance to get an allergy. When eaten and accumulate in the body, paraffin may also cause genetic toxicity and result to cancer risk . Last but not the least, there are as many as 21 samples with known allergic fragrance ingredients such as citral, geraniol, citronellol, linalool, rosin alcohol, and more, they have the opportunity to lead to skin allergies, itching and even pigmented cosmetic dermatitis.”
Dr. Xueping, Chen recommends,” In the purchase of lip balm, you can pay more attention to the composition of labels, production origin, use precautions, and other information. For example, some of which even limits the use for infants under the age of two. In addition, if the skin itself is more sensitive or infected with rash, especially for infants, children and pregnant women, one should choose lip balms that do not contain irritating ingredients such as spices, color, preservatives or chemical sunscreen and other additives. When trying a new lip balm, one can apply it to the back of the hand or the skin inside forearm, let it stay for about 30 Minutes, and if there is no sensitive reaction or rash, one can be assured to use it. “
Jimmy Tao said,” “Biology testing is one of the newest technologies in the world in recent years. We hope to be able to complement traditional chemical testing to identify the toxic chemicals that cannot be tested in the product, avoiding human direct consumption. For Yellow Fish and Red Fish products that did not meet our Green Fish safety standard, we will actively contact the respective brands and manufacturers to promote the overall industry to enhancing product safety. At the same time, consumers can visit the website of the Test-itTM (www.fishqc.com) online consumer goods safety information platform, and find out the Green Fish products that qualified our testing for chronic toxicants and acute toxicants and also ingredient check for more peace of mind purchase options.”
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