Manicure lovers, be careful what you put on your fingernails: Case

SINGAPORE - A test on 30 different nail polish and nail polish remover products sold in Singapore revealed that they are safe to use, but 10 nail polish and two nail polish removers failed to include the ingredient list on their product labels.

The test conducted in March 2015 by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) checked for the amount of benzene and toluene in these products, which are toxic chemicals.

Benzene is a carcinogen that can cause leukemia with long-term exposure, while toluene, an industrial feedstock and solvent, can cause neurological harm, Case said in a press release Monday.

Case officers purchased 30 different brands of nail polish and nail polish remover products from various departmental stores and neighborhood retail outlets in Singapore for their checks.

While all were found to be free of benzene and toluene, 10 out of the 15 nail polish samples and two out of the 15 nail polish removers did not display an ingredient list in English.

Proper labeling in English showing the full list of ingredients is required for all products under the Health Science Authority (HSA)'s guidelines.

This latest check was initiated after Hong Kong's Consumer Council found high levels of toxins in five types of nail polish and base coat products.

"Four samples [tested by Hong Kong's Consumer Council] were tested to contain benzene, which is not supposed to be in cosmetic products," Case said. "One was tested with toluene concentration exceeding the 25 per cent limit set by the European Union (EU)."

Nail care products in Singapore are regulated according to similar standards applied by the EU on cosmetic products.

"While we were unable to test every nail polish and nail polish remover available in Singapore, the samples that were selected were representative of the common brands that can be found in pharmacies, departmental stores and neighbourhood retailers," Case said.

"Thus, we can conclude that the nail care products sold on the Singapore market are generally safe."

The consumer watchdog also urged consumers to stay updated on cosmetic products advisories and alerts as new research and tests may reveal new hazards associated with products using organic solvents.