What’s a little bit of cancer when your skin looks this good, amirite?
I suspect I am wrong. But I also suspect that you probably won’t get cancer from having used these.
Here’s the deal: 13 make-up products from several famed Korean makeup brands–Etude House, Aritaum, and Skinfood, to name a few–were banned after the government discovered they contained excess levels of the heavy metal antimony. The max permitted amount of antimony is 10 parts per million; The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety reports that the products contained levels from 10.1 – 14.1 ppm. Prolonged exposure to the metal, which is found in in batteries and home appliances as well as toys and food packaging, can cause symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and depression, and i; high levels of antimony in drinking water can lead to abdominal pain, vomiting, and skin, eye, and lung irritation.
And of course, the biggie (according to Koreaboo, anyway): a specific compound of the metal, antimony trioxide, can potentially cause cancer; in the words of The US National Toxicology Program, antimony trioxide is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”
Now, I don’t know for sure whether antimony found in the products is the trioxide compound, but I’m thinking no. While Koreaboo’s article immediately leapt to the “THIS MAKEUP WILL GIVE YOU CANCER” conclusion, every other (more reputable) source on the subject didn’t mention carcinogens at all in their coverage. So although I doubt these products contain the potentially-cancerous variety of antimony, you should maybe get rid of any of these that you own anyway.
Cosmetics conglomerate AmorePacific is behind two of the affected brands: Etude House and Aritaum. They’ve apologized for the mistake.
Per The Coverage, here’s a list of most of the products banned:
I can’t find the last retail product list; and while they’ve all been reportedly been taken off shelves in Korea, I still found them for sale online via many of third-party retailers. “Safety regulations differ from country to country,” a company rep said. “But we will issue recalls in any country that demands it.”
So as far as your country’s standards go, these products may still be good to go. Maybe check the brand’s official website to see if your fave product’s still for sale there? Not trying to trigger any hypochondriacs (including myself), but better safe than sorry.
Author’s Note: Article was updated for clarity on international regulations, and to add 2 items to the list of recalled products