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Kanebo Recalls More Than 50 Products in Japan

The cosmetics maker is voluntarily recalling brightening products due to reports of unexpected side effects of active quasi-drug ingredient Rhododenol.

TOKYO — Kanebo, Japan’s second largest cosmetics maker, said Thursday that it is voluntarily recalling over 50 different products in the Japanese market due to reports of unexpected side effects of active quasi-drug ingredient Rhododenol.

“The voluntary recall was initiated after a discovery that consumers who have used certain brightening products manufactured and sold by Kanebo Cosmetics Inc. and its affiliates Lissage Ltd. and E’quipe Ltd. have reported the appearance of white blotches on their skin,” the company said in a release. “The brightening products in question all contain Rhododenol.”

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has approved the ingredient, Kanebo said.

A total of 54 products — some of which are also sold in other countries or territories in Asia — are affected by the recall. The brands affected include Suisai, Impress, Twany, Lissage, and RMK. A Kanebo spokeswoman specified that Rhododenol is not an ingredient in Kanebo’s high-end international Sensai products so the recall does not affect the U.S. or European markets.

A spokesman for Kanebo said the company estimates that roughly 450,000 units of the affected products have already been sold to customers, and an additional 800,000 units were with retailers. Sales of the products stopped Thursday morning and customers wishing to return items for a refund are asked to call Kanebo’s customer service line. Kanebo has halted sale of the affected products in other Asian countries and plans to recall in those markets at a later date.

The spokesman said the company has not yet estimated the extent to which the recall will negatively affect Kanebo’s sales. He said the company is now considering whether it will reformulate or permanently discontinue the affected products moving forward.