Toxic watchdog group BAN Toxics is issuing a public warning about the rampant sale of imitation and counterfeit perfumes and fragrances in the market, cautioning consumers against potential health risks associated with the chemicals in these products.
In a recent market monitoring effort, the group documented ambulant vendors peddling cheap imitated perfumes and fragrances priced between P50 to P180. These counterfeit perfumes closely mimic the packaging and labels of well-known brands, making them appealing to consumers.
Perfume and beauty products rank second as the most counterfeited goods in the Philippines next to apparel in 2022, according to the total reports and complaints received by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.
Thony Dizon, Toxics Campaigner of BAN Toxics, emphasized the risks associated with purchasing cosmetic products with fragrances lacking proper authorization, stating, “Buying perfume and fragrances that have not undergone proper authorization is not only too risky but may expose consumers to harmful substances lurking in the products.”
According to information sourced from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep® Cosmetic Database, the term “fragrance” on the label of cosmetics products conceals an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients of 3,163 known chemicals. Notably, phthalates, octoxynols, and nonoxynols are highlighted as particularly toxic. Phthalates, commonly used as solvents and stabilizers in perfumes, are identified as potent hormone disruptors linked to birth defects in baby boys. Octoxynols and nonoxynols can break down into persistent hormone disruptors as well.
Potential hazards may arise from ingredients prohibited in cosmetic products or from contamination by heavy metals. The use of substandard and possibly adulterated cosmetic products may lead to adverse reactions such as skin irritation, itchiness, anaphylactic shock, and organ failure.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued health advisories against using unauthorized cosmetic products such as perfumes, cautioning consumers against purchasing and using them. The agency emphasizes that products bypassing the notification process prevent its ability to guarantee their quality and safety, potentially exposing consumers to health risks.
“As part of our safe cosmetics campaign, we’re committed to monitoring and reporting the unauthorized sale of unregistered and unnotified personal care products in both on-site and online markets. To protect human health and the environment from chemical exposure is our advocacy,” Dizon added.
In a letter sent to the FDA, BAN Toxics urges the agency to conduct Post Marketing Surveillance and testing on imitation and counterfeit perfumes and fragrances. Because of the dangers to the public, the group calls for the issuance of public health advisories and stringent enforcement actions to protect consumers from undisclosed health-damaging chemicals in fragrance products.
Meanwhile, the public is urged to verify whether a product has been notified with the FDA, using the FDA Verification Portal, accessible at https://verification.fda.gov.ph. (PR)