Risk assessment of allergen metals in cosmetic products

J Cosmet Sci. Sep-Oct 2015;66(5):313-23.


Cosmetics are one of the most common reasons for hospital referrals with allergic contact dermatitis. Because of the increased use of cosmetics within the population and an increase in allergy cases, monitoring of heavy metals, especially allergen metals, is crucial. The aim of this study was to investigate the concentration of allergen metals, nickel (Ni), cobalt (Co), and chromium (Cr), in the most commonly used cosmetic products including mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow, lipstick, and nail polish. In addition, for safety assessment of cosmetic products, margin of safety of the metals was evaluated. Forty-eight makeup products were purchased randomly from local markets and large cosmetic stores in Istanbul, Turkey, and an atomic absorption spectrometer was used for metal content determination. Risk assessment of the investigated cosmetic products was performed by calculating the systemic exposure dosage (SED) using Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety guideline. According to the results of this investigation in all the samples tested, at least two of the allergen metals, Ni and/or Co and/or Cr were detected. Moreover, 97% of the Ni-detected products, 96% of Cr- and 54% of Co-detected products, contained over 1 μg/g of this metals, which is the suggested ultimate target value for sensitive population and thereby can be considered as the possible allergen. On the basis of the results of this study, SED of the metals was negligible; however, contact dermatitis caused by cosmetics is most probably due to the allergen metal content of the products. In conclusion, to assess the safety of the finished products, postmarketing vigilance and routine monitoring of allergen metals are very important to protect public health.

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / toxicity*
  • Cosmetics*
  • Humans
  • Metals / toxicity*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic


  • Allergens
  • Cosmetics
  • Metals