Discrepancies and mislabeling of preservatives found in cosmetic products in the Philippines


The study analyzed a collection of 65 personal care products from local and international manufacturers, which included moisturizers, face washes, sunscreens and shampoos.

The products were then chemically analyzed for the presence of methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), methylisothiazolinone (MI) and formaldehyde and found discrepancies in the information provided on the labels.

“Discrepancies were found in the preservatives and labeling of these products, with the majority of the Philippine products studied being inaccurately labeled with varying concentrations of preservatives.”

Preservatives are added to cosmetic products to prevent the growth of microbes and to prevent destabilization and degradation of the product.

The researchers noted that in the Philippines, preservatives are particularly important due to the hot and humid tropical climate, which favors the proliferation of fungi, viruses or bacteria.

According to the study, the preservatives commonly used in the Philippines are MCI, MI, formaldehyde as well as parabens.

However, the researchers pointed out that there had been interest in the link between MCI, MI and formaldehyde and the prevalence of contact dermatitis.

“It is important to establish and confirm the use of these preservatives in order to better identify possible causes and more accurate treatment of dermatitis.”

Inaccuracies abound

For this study, 65 products were chosen based on their availability and accessibility in local grocery stores and pharmacies.

“There is a wide margin of inaccuracies found in the labels, which leaves a big question about the uncertainty of the true components found in Philippine cosmetics. This creates a problem in identifying and confirming a diagnosis of contact dermatitis due preservatives or other ingredients for that matter.

The study also noted that the varying concentrations of preservatives used were also of concern.

It found that the formaldehyde used in liquid rinse-off washes and feminine washes, as well as leave-in products like feminine wipes and moisturizers measured at more than 40 ppm.

“At this concentration, formaldehyde is sufficient to cause a flare-up of allergic contact dermatitis in people allergic to formaldehyde,”the researchers said.

One of the problems noted by the researchers was the lack of regulation regarding the use of preservatives.

“In the Philippines, there are no concise and strict regulations. Unlike European law, Philippine regulations do not limit the amounts of preservatives such as MCI/MI, MI and/or formaldehyde, release agents and parabens.

“There are a number of inaccuracies that exist between what is stated. It is also important to determine what preservatives are actually present in the products available in the Philippine market, as well as the different concentrations of preservatives that can cause not only sensitization but an increase in the prevalence of contact dermatitis.

The researchers suggested that products should be reviewed and stressed that legislation should be “strictly enforced” to protect consumers.


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