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Dual-phase Make-up Removers Showed Best Cleansing Performance Amongst 40 Models 90% of Water-based Models Performed Mediocre Posing Risks of Unthorough Cleansing

  • 2021.07.14

Perfectly applied make-up will instantly brighten up the face. However, if the make-up is not thoroughly removed, the residue may lead to various skin problems. The Consumer Council tested 40 make-up remover models specially for eyes or suitable for both face and eyes. 2 models were detected with allergenic preservatives, though the concentration did not exceed the requirements laid out by Mainland China and the European Union (EU). As a whole, the safety of these products was satisfactory and consumers can use them with confidence. For the cleansing performance test, the overall performance of dual-phase make-up removers was better, with nearly 95% of the models rated 4 points or more. The models with 5-star overall ratings showed a price difference of over 3 times, while some of the more expensive models only had a mediocre performance, proving once again that the product price does not always reflect quality.

The test covered 40 make-up remover models of different types, including 19 models of dual-phase, 10 models of oil-based and 11 models of water-based make-up removers, priced from $48 to $355. Test items included cleansing performance, preservatives content, labelling information and whether the brand offers a recycling programme.

Despite the vast selection of make-up remover products on the market, their cleansing principle is similar. The make-up removers are composed of water or oil-based ingredients, such as polyols and mineral oils, to dissolve and remove facial cosmetics that may not be entirely removed by general facial cleansing products. Upon comparing the 3 types of make-up removers, the dual-phase models had the best overall performance while the price was in the mid-range. The 19 models of dual-phase make-up removers had an average price of $1.26/ml; water-based models were the lowest in price, averaging $0.96/ml; oil-based make-up remover models had the highest average unit price of $1.32/ml.

The higher the “cleansing power”, the better the cleansing performance. All 19 models of dual-phase make-up remover models had outstanding cleansing power ranging from 63.1 to 86.5 and received overall ratings of 4 stars or above, amongst which 9 models received an overall 5-star rating. Oil-based models varied in performance, with only 1 model achieving a cleansing power of over 70. Another 5 oil-based models had satisfactory cleansing power of 56.6 to 67.3 and were rated 4 stars or above overall. However, 2 oil-based models performed relatively poorly as their cleansing power were rated at 24.3 and 12.8 respectively, one of which had the highest unit price ($3/ml) amongst all models. Water-based make-up removers had the weakest cleansing performance amongst the 3 types. Apart from 1 model with a cleansing power of 76.2, the cleansing power of the other 10 models ranged from 2.7 to 10.1, thus only received overall ratings of 2 to 2.5 stars only, proving disappointing in their performance. The Council reminds consumers that water-based make-up removers had limited cleansing efficacy on waterproof and greaseproof cosmetics and may not be able to completely remove such products, thus increasing the risk of pore clogging or enlarging pores, as well as the chance of acne and fat granules.

The cosmetics industry generates large volumes of packaging waste every year, most of them are plastic materials, leading to an increase in environmental pollution. As such, some brands have launched environmental programmes that include labelling of material types and recycling information on bottles and packaging, as well as offering in-store recycling services to encourage consumers to recycle used bottles. However, out of the 40 models, only less than a third provide in house recycling programmes. The Council encourages local cosmetics brands to provide recycling services in the future as a collective effort to drive sustainable consumption.

Individuals could also do more to support sustainable consumption. The Council recommends consumers to opt for reusable cotton pads to replace disposable cotton pads, wet wipes or cotton buds. 1 reusable cotton pad can be used over a hundred to a thousand times, greatly cutting down on waste generation as well as the huge amounts of water required for manufacturing disposable cotton pads.

Besides, the packaging of 9 models (including the bottle, user manual and cardboard box) only contained ingredient information in Japanese or completely lacked such information. Thus, consumers may not know whether the product contains allergens. Another 7 models did not display the expiry date, indicating less-than-ideal product labelling. Apart from urging manufacturers to improve their product labels, the Council also reminds consumers that the preservatives in make-up removal products with a higher water content may have lost their efficacy after the expiry date, increasing the risk of microbial contamination.

When purchasing and using make-up removal products, consumers should pay attention to the following:

  • Before purchasing make-up removers, examine the ingredients and labelling information before selecting suitable products based on personal make-up habits and needs, such as whether one uses waterproof and grease-proof cosmetics, skin condition, etc. If the user has problems like eczema, rosacea or skin allergy, they should pay special attention to the ingredients and refrain from selecting products containing allergenic preservatives;
  • Consumers should read the product labels carefully to understand how to use the product. Generally speaking, oil-based make-up removers have a thicker texture and if not thoroughly cleansed, the residue grease may lead to skin problems such as allergy, acne or fat granules;
  • If the skin feels taut after make-up removal and cleansing, it may mean the skin is in an “over-cleansed” state. Not only will this strip the skin of moisture and cause possible damage to the stratum corneum, it may also cause skin redness, itchiness, flaky skin, etc. Reduce the frequency of washing the face if possible and select milder make-up removal and cleansing products;
  • Be aware of the expiry date on packaging and discard expired products;
  • Use up the product before the expiry date on the packaging. There will be a higher risk of microbial contamination due to exposure to air and skin after the product has been opened for a long period of time.

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