Gov't Gets Tough on Fine Dust Cosmetics
Makeup items claiming to prevent fine dust from damaging skin ― "anti-pollution" cosmetics ― are the subject of stricter South Korean government tests to raise reliability for consumers.
The new measure is an update of the 2012 National Institute of Food and Drug Safety Evaluation guideline for cosmetic makers on labeling cosmetics and verifying their claimed effects. The authority's latest change requires makers to certify their products' "particulate matter-proof" effect.
Manufacturers now have to test their products on at least 20 people and evaluate how well the cosmetics prevent fine dust from sticking to their skin. If the pollutants are reduced by a significant amount, the effect is certified.
Manufacturers have been conducting their own quality tests on products. But the tests did not have government-level validity and put consumers in doubt about whether the tests were done properly.
Some cosmetic makers took advantage of the absence of a government standard to advertise their products' so-called "certified" anti-fine dust effect.
In May 2017, the National Institute of Food and Drug Safety Evaluation, an arm of the food and drug safety ministry, demanded 22 South Korean cosmetic makers submit documents proving their self-verification of particulate matter-proof products. This resulted in 10 companies receiving penalties or being banned from advertising the products.
"The companies have been promoting their products' anti-fine dust effects based on their own judgment," a cosmetics industry official said. "From now on, with more strict standards, product reliability will increase and consumers victimized by false ads will be reduced."
A survey from January to March showed more people bought anti-pollution cosmetics than products for color makeup. Department store chain AK Plaza analyzed transaction records from its online shopping mall that showed sales of anti-pollution cosmetics in March rose 120 percent from January while color makeup kit sales were up 40 percent.
Anti-pollution cosmetics include "sun-care" products that prevent PM10 (particulate matter of 10 micrometers or less in diameter) from penetrating skin, "deep-cleansing" products that cleanse pollutants as small as PM2.5, and "skincare" products that soothe air-pollution damaged skin.
"As air pollution caused by fine dust continues for months, more consumers look for food or cosmetic products for a health supplement purpose to prepare for the ever-lasting air pollution crisis," an AK Plaza official said. "The cosmetics seem to have outpaced air purifiers or anti-dust masks."
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