Selling Cosmetic products in China: New legislation
China’s cosmetic products selling market, the second largest in Asia Pacific (after Japan), has been witnessing and experiencing increased demand due to improving lifestyles and rising disposable income of the Chinese population for over past 20 years. Cosmetics industry in China has raised to a new growth engine, right after automobile, telecommunication, tourism etc. ，and involved in a bunch of relevant industries including physical chemistry, surface chemistry, colloid chemistry, organic chemistry, dye chemistry as well as a variety of scientist subjects associated with microbiology, dermatology, hair science, physiology, nutriology, Pharmacology, cosmetics, psychology etc. Its rapid growth also promoted progressive development of advertisement and logistics industry.
Selling cosmetic products in China
This huge market space and profits attracted more and more enterprises to be engaged in cosmetics products selling business, consequently incurred much more furious competition among different brands. Ever since 2002, the general structure of China’s cosmetics products selling market has then changed greatly with industry prospect and credibility in jeopardy. In order to take a quick slice of inviting pie many small and medium sized enterprises operated their business regardless of industry rules; plus, unregulated market management resulted in arbitrary expansion of market channels and survived those manufacturers in violation of rules and regulations.
Chinese government hence has made a series of laws and ordinances since 1989 and the following years for the purpose of regulating cosmetics products selling market (see here), including Regulations concerning the hygiene supervision over cosmetics promulgated by Ministry of Health in 1990; Detailed Rules for the Implementation of the Regulation on the Hygiene Supervision over Cosmetics in 2005, Hygienic Standard for Cosmetics in 2007; The Measures for the Administration of Hygiene License for Cosmetics revised in 2010; Guideline for Risk Evaluation of Substances with Possibility of Safety Risk in Cosmetics in 2010; Standard Chinese Names of International Cosmetics Ingredients Inventory in 2010; Cosmetics Technical Requirement Standard in 2011; Guidelines for the Registration and Evaluation of New Cosmetic Ingredient in 2011; AQSIQ Order No. 143 of 2011 – The Administrative Measures on the Inspection, Quarantine and Supervision of Chinese Imported & Exported Cosmetics in 2011.
Starting from September, 2009, responsibility of supervision and regulation on Hygiene has been shifted from the Ministry of Health to CFDA(China Food and Drug Administration), while AQSIQ(General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People’s Republic of China) is in charge of hygiene license release and supervision, and SAIC(State Administration of Industry and Commerce) mainly focuses on supervision of advertising, falsification and protection of consumer rights on cosmetics products selling market.
Ingredients requirements in Chinese Cosmetic industry
The Hygienic Standard for Cosmetics published by the Ministry of Health in 2007 has banned over 1200 chemicals in cosmetics and restricted the use of 73 chemicals, 56 preservatives, 156 colorants, 28 sun block agents and 93 dyes in cosmetics. Before companies apply for hygiene license or record-keeping certificate, companies shall make sure their formula meets this hygienic standard.
Companies shall also check if there is any new ingredient in their product. A new ingredient that is not currently listed on the Inventory of Existing Cosmetic Ingredients in China (IECIC) also requires registration with SFDA. However, a new ingredient might not require registration if there is proof that the ingredient has been used in approved cosmetics in China before. It can be very difficult and expensive to register a new ingredient.
Application of Hygiene License or Record-keeping Certificate
For cosmetics ready to place cosmetics on cosmetics product selling market, companies must apply for and obtain hygiene license or record-keeping certificate from the China Food & Drug Administration (CFDA). Foreign companies shall appoint a Chinese responsible agent to deal with registration and obtain such certificate. Manufacturers shall also register a new cosmetic ingredient prior to using it for cosmetics production. Documents required for application of hygiene license or record keeping certificate are stipulated in Detailed Rules for the Implementation of the Regulation on the Hygiene Supervision over Cosmetics for reference.
On 18 December 2013, CFDA (China Food and Drug Administration) has a final announcement regarding the adjustment of record-keeping management of non-special use cosmetics produced in China after 6 weeks’ public consultations on a draft notice issued in Nov 2013. Compared to the draft notice, many dates/deadlines have changed. For domestic non-special use cosmetics, companies need to conduct online record-keeping of their products from 30th Jun 2014 before marketing their products in China. The provincial food and drug authority will no longer issue record-keeping certificates for approved domestic non-special use cosmetics. The record-keeping requirements will be reduced while post-market supervision will be strengthened.
Cosmetics with skin-whitening and skin pigmentation reduction claims will be classified as special use cosmetics (anti-freckle category) from 16th Dec 2013. The whitening cosmetics produced/approved before 30th June 2015 can be sold until the end of their shelf life. According to the announcement, toxicology test reports will no longer be required if companies have the capabilities to conduct their own safety assessment of ingredients to ensure the safety of their finished cosmetic products.
Animal testing and cosmetics online sales
As for animal testing for cosmetics product selling and cosmetics online sales, temporarily no specific laws or regulations are made yet in China to regulate. However, according to Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests, Chinese consumers could exercise their rights when purchasing products online on the accounts of specific articles provided in aforesaid law.