Spotlight 2020: Expert Analysis on the year ahead

Need-to-know: The top cosmetics regulatory issues on the agenda for APAC in 2020

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Top cosmetics regulatory issues on the agenda for APAC in 2020. ©GettyImages
Top cosmetics regulatory issues on the agenda for APAC in 2020. ©GettyImages

Related tags Regulation Apac

We speak to industry insiders for their expert analysis on the regulatory issues and trends that will affect the cosmetics industry in APAC in the new year, spanning China, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Anticipating CSAR implementation

Dr Alain Khaiat, President of the Cosmetic, Toiletry & Fragrance Association of Singapore (CTFAS), stressed that cosmetic companies need to continuing paying attention to China’s Cosmetics Safety and Administration Regulation (CSAR).

“Definitely, the biggest challenges will be the implementation of the new laws in China. We have to be very careful that they don’t take back what they give. It’s getting easier but at the same time they have put controls and constraints that will make it difficult.”

Hedy He, from ChemLinked, believes this will be released before the year ends. “CSAR is undoubtedly the most anticipated regulation in the whole industry. The industry insiders said the final version would be released at the end of 2019.”

Khaiat believes CSAR will improve innovation and facilitate trade, but is wary that some improvements may get lost in translation.

“We have to make sure when it gets to the implementation stage, they don’t make it more stringent and backwards.”

Additionally, he noted there were some finer points that needed to be clarified.

“If you look at the regulations for SPF, for example, it says you need to have a CRO accredited by the Chinese authorities. I think there are only three or four and they are all based in China. So, you can imagine, everybody is going to need to fight to get a spot there.”

China’s microbead ban

At the end of October, the China National Development and Reform Commission officially passed the Catalogue of Guidance on Industry Structure Adjustment which detailed that the country will ban the use of microbeads from December 31, 2020 and ban the sales of cosmetic products with microbeads from December 31, 2022.

However, some details like the definition of the term ‘microbeads’ is still pending clarification.

“A lot is riding on the specifics of the regulatory measures introduced by the government. It is not yet clear how ‘plastic microbeads’ will be defined, what categories of products will be subject to restrictions, how the ban will be implemented, and what punishments will be handed down to violators,” ​said He

China's pending ban on the manufacture and sale of cosmetics containing microbeads is still subject to further refinement.

If the scope of the ban only extends to ingredients used as abrasives in facial cleaners and shower gels, He believes the ban will not have much impact on the industry as there are numerous alternatives available.

“However, if microbeads refer to any plastic particles less than 5mm in diameter, it will have a tremendous impact on the industry, particularly for skincare and makeup categories,” ​she said.

Halal regulations in limbo?

Indonesia’s mandatory halal law came into effect on October 17, 2019, but there are many aspects for cosmetics that have not been clearly defined by the authorities.

This may be because cosmetics is not a priority for the Indonesian authorities, who are more focused on the food and beverage industry, said Khaiat.

“So, we’re still in limbo,”​ he said simply.

Currently, the regulations for cosmetics have been pushed back to October 17, 2026 but there are still many details of the new regulations that have yet to be ironed out.

For instance, the regulations have highlighted the need for a halal compliance manager but have not specified essential details.

“Is this one per factory or one per company? It’s not clear. If you look at the big multinationals, they make their products in a thousand factories, if you have one per company then that’s feasible, but if you need to have one per factory, that's 1000 people all over the world,” ​said Khaiat.

Dr Mohd Iskandar, CEO of halal informatics lab Holistics Lab, said his advice for cosmetics companies during this “difficult situation”​ is to be stay vigilant and prepare as much as they can.

Malaysia updates MPPHM

Indonesia is not the only country that cosmetics companies need to pay attention to when it comes to halal regulations, Iskandar pointed out.

In neighbouring Malaysia, the latest draft of Manual Prosedur Pensijilan Halal Malaysia (MPPHM) was published in 2019 and expected to be implemented the same year.

“We are not sure when, but it's looking like it will be implemented in 2020. At least the draft has been out so cosmetic companies will have time to prepare,” ​said Iskandar.

The latest revisions to MPPHM contain many changes specifically for cosmetic companies, which the Malaysian government have put in place to answer the increasing need for clearer guidelines in halal cosmetics, especially for international companies.

From next year onwards, it will be compulsory for medium-sized enterprises and above to employ a dedicated halal executive. While it is not a must for micro and small-sized companies, Iskandar said it is highly recommended.

The halal executive will also need to go through the Halal Professional Board’s training to obtain a certificate. “This certificate will be important when it comes to renewing the halal certificate,”​ said Iskandar.

Chemical management regulations in Asia

According to Martina Bianchini, president of the International Fragrance Association (IFRA), more countries in Asia are looking at developing their own chemical management legislation.

“Chemicals legislation I would say is popping up in all Asian markets. Korea already has chemical legislation in place, K-REACH which is modelled after the European legislation. We know Thailand and Vietnam are thinking about their own chemical legislation too,” ​she said.

She added that IFRA was currently working with these authorities to make the legislations are practical for the fragrance industry.

“We're working with those countries to ensure, as they set up their own systems, ideally, we would like the legislation that follow the same principles, so we don't get a patchwork of different country regulations,”​ said Bianchini.

The goal for the fragrance industry is to achieve co-regulation, she added.

“We are looking forward to working with these governments. For us as an industry, we are looking at how to work with those governments to make sure the legislation is workable. We've already been self-regulating for 40 years, we are always prepared to share with these governments the work that we have already been doing for their consideration.”

Transparency-focused regulation

Bianchini predicted that the consumer demand for ingredient transparency would continue to affect the fragrance industry globally.

“There is a trend for more knowledge and more education for the consumer. Consumers are becoming more interested and we have to make sure the information they get has a well-informed picture about the cosmetics they use.”

Currently, there is a movement in European that promote disclosure of labelling of fragrances for cosmetic purposes. Bianchini said the fragrance industry was supportive of this on a whole.

“The fragrance industry supports the labelling, but we believe the consumer is best served if there is a digital platform. Rather than putting all the information on the packaging, we believe we can apply a QR-coder reader for instance, that would direct consumer online and give them the information.”

While this initiative is being driven Europe, Bianchini said this will ultimately affect the Asian region.

“This has global in scope because we think that the Asian consumer is just as much interested in knowing about cosmetic products as European consumers.”

Currently, this initiative is undergoing public consultation to decide what information should be presented to the consumer.

“From Fragrance perspective, we support that the consumer should have information on products. However, it must be relevant, digital and protect the business model. In fragrance we have no intellectual property protection, we rely on trade secrets.

“It's a challenge because we have to draw a line on the trade secrets. You don't want to give away your entire formula so people can copy it. We have to ensure the right balance between trade secrets and full-disclosure.”

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