Determining Korean Consumers’ Degree of Exposure to Lipstick and Face Creams

Editor's note: This article excerpt, from the November 2012 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries, provides an overview of the method used to test the exposure of Korean lipstick and face cream, in brief. The complete article provides a broader view of this testing method, including results and a discussion. To access the complete version of this or other articles in our digital magazine archives, subscribe to the free digital edition of Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine.

Lipstick and face cream are widely used leave-on cosmetic products, and their continued contact on the skin and mucosa results in greater opportunity for absorption into the skin. Since cosmetic products are composed of chemicals, use of these products results in exposure to chemicals. Fortunately, the skin has a protective barrier but some product components may penetrate this barrier. For this reason, it is important to evaluate the exposure degree of cosmetic products, to know the safety as well as intrinsic hazard of their components. In Korea, no attempt had been made until now to establish the exposure degree of cosmetic products.

One of the objectives of this study was to determine the exposure degree of the two most commonly used cosmetic products—lipstick and face cream— in terms of frequency, i.e., number of uses per day, and amount per use. An additional objective was to compare the results of surveys with data collected by weighing product containers before and after use. This exposure data will be used in future studies, to evaluate the safety of cosmetics and other personal care products and ingredients in Korea.

Materials and Methods

Study design: The present study was carried out in two steps—event attendee surveys and online recruiting. First, data was collected by surveying attendees of the 2009 Cosmobeauty Seoul event. A total of 2,146 attendees were asked where they live, their age, how frequently they use cosmetic products and how long, on average, they wear lipstick and/or face cream. Most attendees were from the regions of Seoul and Gyeonggi-do, 46.0% and 29.9%, respectively, followed by the Incheon region at 10.3%, and were in the age ranges of 20–29 and under 19, 49.8% and 24.3%, respectively; followed by ages 30–39, at 11.7%.

In the second step, the target consumer group using lipstick and face cream was restricted to females in two age categories: 20–29 and 30–39. The age category of under 19 was excluded due to high nonuse levels of lipstick and face cream, 39.6% and 49.8%, respectively. Regionally, step two was restricted to the Seoul, Gyeonggi-do and Incheon areas; Incheon was included with Gyeonggi-do for geographical reasons and convenience.

In the second step, study subjects were recruited through the home page of the Korean Cosmetic Association website,, for the targeted consumer group. The women recruited were given specific products as their exclusive lipstick and/or face cream during the two weeks and asked not to share products with others. The subjects recorded frequency of product use daily in a diary provided to them. To gain precise exposure data, subjects were instructed to use the products as they normally would.

Lipstick and face cream: The generally available HERA Shine Holica lipstick and Iope Moisture Lasting face creamb were supplied to the study subjects. In the case of lipstick, the study subjects chose their preferred color from No. 106 (peach pink), No. 117 (shine red), No. 136 (shea brown) and No. 125 (syabe orange). A single face cream was used.

Data collection: After two weeks of use, the subjects returned the test products and their reports. The reports were checked for accuracy and completeness and the data was linked to the pre- and post-weight measurement data. Pre and post weighing was conducted for all test products using a scalec measuring to milligram sensitivity.

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