News & Trends

New Rules for Cosmetics Regulations in China: A List of 5 Changes

Publish DateJul 26, 2021

China's cosmetic market is booming more than ever with the growing demand for top-class quality global cosmetics, and that's why it is often referred to as the“Gold Mine”. This dynamic market is the second-largest in the world.

By 2024, Chinese cosmetics retail sales are expected to reach 67 billion USD.

The online cosmetics shopping penetration rate in China has also surged from 53.4% in 2014 to 74.2% in 2018.

Online platforms are now the most crucial channel for Chinese customers. Studies suggest that the growth of urbanization, wealth, and consumer knowledge has spurred sales and the development of ecommerce.

And in this growing landscape of the cosmetics industry, foreign companies are the dominant actors. Despite COVID-19, they continue to be the dominant ones and holds an 86% share of the retail sales.

It is considered the best market for international brands as makeup is becoming more and more desirable among Chinese women. And the daily skincare routine is changing too, with the addition of additional steps and products.

Reports suggest that Chinese millennial women are giving primary importance to skincare routines, not luxury handbags.

Even though feminist ads have populated this landscape, the Chinese maintain a hostile attitude towards aging, thus increasing sales of skincare products.

For Chinese makeup lovers, all animal lovers, and international cosmetics companies, the year 2021 has marked a significant event for cosmetics companies interested in entering the China market. China's National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) replaced the former Cosmetics Hygiene Supervision Regulations (CHSR) of 1990 with the Cosmetic Supervision and Administration Regulation (CSAR) for better quality control.

This is a landmark move for foreign companies and animal lovers: this ended the previous mandatory requirement for animal testing of imported‘general' cosmetics.

Previously, all international companies had to pay for animal testing to enter the China market.

The new regulations seem very promising and bring many changes. Here are the five broad changes:

1.    Updated product categories

Cosmetics are now broadly divided into two groups: special cosmetics and general cosmetics.

The list of “Special use” cosmetics includes five categories with one distinct category: hair dyes; products for hair perming; freckle-removing/whitening products; sunscreens; cosmetics “claiming new efficacy.”

Other cosmetic products belong to the general cosmetics category comprising shampoo, body wash, and lotions.


2.    Unified filing system for domestic and imported general cosmetics

A Unified filing system for domestic and imported general cosmetics is in place now.

Special products should be registered with the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA).


3.    New cosmetic ingredient registration and management

Cosmetic ingredients are now divided into existing and new ingredients.

New ingredients that might pose any risk, such as hair dyes and whitening cream, should be registered with NMPA along with annual reports on its safety and usage.

New ingredients without any safety concerns are added to the Inventory of Existing Cosmetic Ingredients (IECIC).


4.    Safety risk assessment and exemption from mandatory animal testing

Conduct safety assessments of cosmetics by professional safety assessors.

To avoid animal testing for ‘general’ cosmetics, brands must apply for exemption with quality (Good Manufacturing Practice) compliance and product safety assessment certifications from competent authorities in their country of origin. This ensures that only raw materials approved by the Chinese authorities are used for the product's safety.


5.    New rules on efficacy testing and claim substantiation

Cosmetic efficacy claims should be substantiated with solid scientific evidence. This evidence will also be available on NMPA’s website.

Refer to articles 22, 37, 43 for more details on:

·         what constitutes scientific evidence for efficacy claims — literature review, research data, or product efficacy evaluation data — referenced by the designated efficacy claims on the NMPA website

·         the specific information required on labels

·         guidelines for accepted content information for advertisements

For international brands, especially cruelty-free brands of ‘general’ cosmetics, this landmark movement has opened doors to this ever-growing market.

According to a 2020 market pulse survey, 46% of Chinese residents preferred international brands.

The strong affinity of Chinese consumers for international brands promises a promising ground.

Author: Somrita Ganchoudhuri


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