Unsafe levels of the heavy metal antimony have led to the South Korean government banning 13 cosmetics products.
Some of the products, including eyebrow pencils from 3CE and Etude House, were previously available in Hong Kong and have been taken off store shelves.
According to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in South Korea, antimony at levels ranging from 10.1 parts per million (ppm) to 14.3ppm was found in the 13 products. The maximum legally permitted antimony level is 10ppm.
After the department ordered recalls of the products, Amorepacific Group, whose brands accounted for six of the products, issued an apology to customers.
Antimony is found in consumer products such as batteries and electrical appliances, and has been detected in food packaging and toys. Research has shown that chronic exposure to antimony in the air can lead to irritations of the skin, eyes and lungs. Drinking high levels of the metal in water could cause vomiting and abdominal pain.
Among the products recalled were: 3CE Slim Eyebrow Pencil (chestnut brown) and Makeheal Naked Slim Brow Pencil (shades BR0203 and YL0801); Aritaum’s Full Cover Cream Concealer and Stick Concealer; Black Monster Homme Black Erasing Pen; Etude House’s AC Clean Up Mild Concealer; Skeda Concealer; Skinfood Cherry Full Lip Liner; and XTM Style Homme for Men Easy Stick Concealer.