Tests conducted by the Department of Health on South Korean-produced IPKN BB Cream, which made the news recently after it made a woman glow under black light, showed that while the product contains ingredients with fluorescent properties, the substances were not harmful.
Blemish balms, commonly known as BB cream, have become popular in recent years, as the product combines foundation, sun protection lotion and moisturizer in one mixture.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Kang Jaw-jou (康照洲) said a chemical substance called disodium phenyl dibenzimidazole tetrasulfonate found in the cream acts as a sun protection agent. The substance gives off a fluorescent glow under ultraviolet light, but the fluorescence has nothing to do with whitening agents that can harm the body or increase the risk of cancer.
“Many chemical substances have fluorescent properties … the glow itself is not enough to determine whether [a substance] is safe or not,” Kang said.
The FDA said that because the substance was not known to pose health risks, its use in cosmetic products was fully legal in Taiwan, as well as in the EU, Australia and many other countries.
On Monday, reports said a Taiwanese woman who had used the cream discovered while in a nightclub that her face was giving off a bluish fluorescent glow under the black light. The sheen made her fear the product could contain harmful substances or have unexpected side effects.
Fluorescent agents can be added to some products to increase their whitening property. Because there is no consensus on whether fluorescent agents can cause cancer, however, most countries do not ban them in cosmetic products
Although health authorities did not find that the sun protection ingredients contained any hazardous substances, inspectors said they would continue testing to ensure that other BB cream products sold in Taiwan are safe.
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