Business / Corporate

2,250 users of Kanebo skin-whitening products report serious symptoms

Kyodo

Kanebo Cosmetics Inc. said 2,250 users of its group’s skin-whitening cosmetics have reported developing serious symptoms such as white blotches since it recalled 54 products on July 4.

Serious effects of the products from Kanebo and subsidiaries Lissage Ltd. and e’quipe Ltd. include “depigmentation in an area of at least 5 cm” and “depigmentation in three or more areas of the body,” as well as “clearly visible depigmentation in parts of the face,” the firm said Tuesday.

Including the 2,250 people seriously affected, 6,808 women reported having developed “white blotches on the skin,” Kanebo said.

The company also said it was aware of only 39 cases at the time of the recall announcement.

In total, Kanebo has received more than 100,000 inquiries in connection with the recall.

“We would like to apologize to all who have developed the symptoms,” President Masumi Natsusaka told a news conference. “We are also surprised that the number (of affected people) is so large.”

The products in question, including Kanebo Blanchir Superior, use a whitening chemical substance called 4-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-2-butanone, which Kanebo named “Rhododenol.”

Kanebo said earlier it has been marketing cosmetics that use the ingredient as an active substance since 2008, with some 250,000 people using them.

The recalled products posted sales of some ¥5 billion at home and around ¥1 billion in overseas markets.

The company said the Japanese Dermatological Association will post on its website a list of medical and other facilities that can treat the symptoms.