China cosmetics advertising: Shanghai association sets new standards that align with CSAR regulations

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Shanghai Advertising Association has released new advertising standards to align with CSAR [Getty Images]
Shanghai Advertising Association has released new advertising standards to align with CSAR [Getty Images]

Related tags: Advertising, China, CSAR

The Shanghai Advertising Association has released new advertising standards for cosmetic products to align with revisions to the country’s newly implemented cosmetic regulations.

China’s Cosmetics Supervision and Administration Regulation (CSAR) came into force on January 1, 2021, to replace the outdated Cosmetics Hygiene Supervision Regulations (CHSR), which was implemented in 1990.

The aim of CSAR is to ensure the quality and safety of cosmetics through strengthening the supervision and management of cosmetics and controlling the production and operations to protect consumer health.

In accordance with this, the Shanghai Advertising Association stated that the content of cosmetics advertisements “must be true, healthy, scientific and accurate, and must not deceive or mislead consumers in any form”, a​ccording to Article 43 of CSAR.

This means cosmetics advertisements “must not express or imply that the products have medical effects, must not contain false or misleading content, and must not deceive or mislead consumers”

Among the key changes, cosmetic products were defined in two categories, general cosmetics and special cosmetics.

SUC are defined as cosmetics with special purpose or function and includes products such as sun protection, whitening, hair growth and hair dyeing products.

When advertising special cosmetics and their claims, companies must produce a special cosmetics registration certificate issued by the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA).

Otherwise, in accordance with Article 34 of the Advertising Law​, the advertisements cannot be published.

Advertisements for hair growth, hair removal, breast shaping, bodybuilding and deodorisation products, which have been allowed to be produced, imported and sold for five years until January 2025, will be permitted until the end of the five-year transition period.

During the transition period, companies are permitted to use the original special-purpose cosmetics approval documents to publish advertisements.

Medical don’ts

The association also emphasised that advertisements for cosmetics must not promote medical effects.

In particular, it highlighted that cosmetic products and advertisements cannot contain terms eluding to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), such as ‘Chinese medicine’ ​or ‘Chinese herbal medicine’.

It highlighted that phrases such as ‘Chinese medicine for anti-dandruff shampoo’, ​for instance, ​must not be used in combination with the effects of cosmetics as it may cause consumers to misunderstand the mechanism and scope of use of cosmetics.

However, it clarified that companies could promote the use of traditional Chinese medicinal materials such as ginseng or reishi mushroom.

Cosmetic advertisements that intend to use information relating to performance, function or sales data will need to comply with Article 8 and Article 11 of the Advertising Law.

They state that sources must be indicated when quoting third-party survey and statistical data. If there is an application scope or validity period for the relevant data, corresponding information shall also be indicated.

When using data derived from the results of experiments or surveys, methods and scope of the experiments or surveys must be marked on advertisements clearly, as they may have a significant impact on consumers' correct understanding of the relevant advertising data, said the association.

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