KCA urges improvement to labelling of allergens and pH levels in shampoo bars

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) has advised cosmetics brands to tighten labelling of allergens and acidity levels on shampoo bars. ©Getty Images
Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) has advised cosmetics brands to tighten labelling of allergens and acidity levels on shampoo bars. ©Getty Images

Related tags Korea Shampoo solid beauty labelling

The Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) has advised cosmetics brands to tighten labelling on shampoo bars, after its recent test discovered that some products did not indicate allergenic ingredients or accurately display their acidity levels.

As interest in environmental issues grows, an increasing number of consumers in South Korea are choosing solid shampoo bars over liquid shampoos in plastic containers.

The KCA recently conducted a test on 10 shampoo bar products, which were evaluated by 32 certified hairdressers and professors with expertise in the beauty category.

It was found that some products did not indicate allergenic ingredients on their labels. 

South Korean regulations require all cosmetic products to label the presence of known allergenic substances when concentrations in the finished formula exceed certain thresholds.

Specifically, shampoo bars must name the allergy-inducing ingredient on the product label if its concentration exceeds 0.01%.

Furthermore, an acidity test revealed that the pH level was incorrectly labelled in five out of six products which displayed this information.

These findings prompted the KCA to make recommendations to the companies that do not meet the standards.

In response, brands including Donggubat, Dr Groot, L’Occitane, Linen and Kitchen, Lush, and KUNDAL said that they would work on improving their product labelling.

We plan to notify the related ministries [of our findings], and provide information on the quality and safety of cosmetics through the ‘Consumer 24’ platform to support consumers’ rational choices in the future,” ​the KCA added.

Other areas of evaluation

Apart from label conformity, the evaluation also compared the quality, safety, and selling prices of the assessed products.

In all 10 products, heavy metals such as lead and arsenic, antiseptics and preservatives like benzyl alcohol, and free alkali, were not detected and/or complied with relevant requirements.

The criteria for product quality were based on cleaning performance and post-use sensations.

“Commercially available shampoo bars differ in cleaning performances. On a 9-point scale, the average satisfaction rate was 5.5 points. Overall, abundant foam generation, ease of rinsing, and low residue after use are highly valued.”

In addition, the KCA reported that the prices of products differ by up to 5.4 times per 10g.

For example, Linen and Kitchen’s ‘Moisturised slightly acidic shampoo bar’ costs approximately KRW632 (US$0.49) per 10g, while the same amount of L’Occitane’s ‘Gentle & Balance Solid Shampoo’ costs about KRW3,000 (US$2.30).

Due to consumer attention on sustainability, the product packaging were also reviewed.

Results showed that nine products used paper packaging made from a variety of materials, such as recycled paper, FSC-certified paper, and non-wood paper made from 100% sugarcane.

On the other hand, one product used biodegradable resin packaging material — a synthetic resin that is decomposed by microorganisms in the soil under composting conditions, such as in a landfill.

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