Expense is no guarantee of superiority, and quality products selling at cheaper prices can be found in the market, according to the latest tests on facial cleansers by the Hong Kong Consumer Council.

Facial cleansers with prices varying from HK$20 to $410 (US$2.50 to $54) were tested – with chemical and microbiological analyses conducted, and information on product labels checked, according to a release on the Consumer Council website.

Of the 42 brands tested, 70% achieved the highest overall rating of 5 points, Oriental Daily reported. Perhaps more surprisingly, among the highest rated were both the cheapest and the most expensive brands tested. Miniso’s Rice Cleansing Foam cost HK$20 and SK-II’s Facial Treatment Gentle Cleanser cost $410. 

The council found that 13 face wash samples contained preservatives, and nine of them had chemicals methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT), methylisothiazolinone (MIT), or free formaldehyde, which can cause skin allergies and reactions such as itchiness and rashes.

Consumers suffering from eczema should avoid using products that contain any of these preservatives.

Although the council said five samples with MIT were within the mainland’s limits, a Mentholatum’s Icy Oil Control Foaming Wash for men was found to have more than 4.5 times the European Union Cosmetics Regulation’s limit of MIT.

Four other samples were found to contain free formaldehyde while four samples were found salicylic acid, which can cause rashes and dry skin. A large amount of salicylic acid absorbed by the skin can even lead to headaches, vomiting and tinnitus.

Five samples were found to contain Isopropyl alcohol, which may cause skin dryness.

The watchdog also urged manufacturers to improve product labeling as 19 brands failed to list all ingredients.