Regulatory tracker: Top 10 most-read stories on APAC cosmetics regulation in 2021

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

We shine the spotlight on the biggest Asia Pacific cosmetic regulation stories of 2021, featuring China’s CBD beauty ban, sunscreen safety, and more. [Getty Images]
We shine the spotlight on the biggest Asia Pacific cosmetic regulation stories of 2021, featuring China’s CBD beauty ban, sunscreen safety, and more. [Getty Images]

Related tags: Regulations, top 10

We shine the spotlight on the biggest Asia Pacific cosmetic regulation stories of 2021, featuring China’s CBD beauty ban, sunscreen safety, and more.

1 – China animal testing: Exemptions for testing on ‘ordinary’ cosmetics start in May - officials

Imported ‘ordinary’ cosmetics will no longer be required to undergo animal testing from May 1 this year​, China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) has confirmed in its finalised regulations.

Furthermore, authorities have begun to conditionally accept data derived from alternative animal testing methods for new cosmetic ingredients registration and notification.

The move to exempt imported ordinary cosmetics marked China’s biggest step forward towards cruelty-free practices.

Ordinary cosmetics, which make up the bulk of the market, and are defined by China as products that do not have claims such as anti-ageing, skin whitening or anti-acne.

2 – China CBD crackdown: Ban on cannabis cosmetics will likely halt sales online as authorities push ‘anti-drug’ stance

China’s proposal to ban the use of cannabis and cannabis extracts in cosmetics would likely affect sales via cross-border e-commerce channels as the authorities double down on ‘anti-drug’ education​.

On March 26, the National Institutes for Food and Drug Control (NIFDC), announced a proposal​ to introduce legislation that would prohibit the use of cannabis and cannabis extracts in cosmetics.

The ban would include raw materials such as cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabis sativa kernel fruit, cannabis sativa seed oil, as well as cannabis sativa leaf.

3 – J&J recalls Neutrogena sunscreen spray in Australia after cancer-causing substance detected

Johnson & Johnson Pacific recalled all batches of Neutrogena​ Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+ in Australia after small levels of benzene, which can potentially cause cancer, was detected under product testing.

Australian regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said all batches with an expiry date of August 30 2023 or earlier should not be used.

Benzene is classified as a human carcinogen, a substance that could potentially cause cancer depending on the level and extent of exposure. It is not an ingredient in this product but is sometimes used in medicine manufacturing processes.

The TGA has limits on these types of solvents and benzene must be below a concentration of 2 parts per million (ppm) in medicines. This includes sunscreen products that are listed medicines in Australia.

4 – Strength in skin care: China’s media crackdown on ‘sissy idols’ unlikely to have large effect on robust men’s category

Awareness of the importance of skin care among men is likely to protect the male beauty category from the recent media crackdown China​ has mandated against those who do not fit into the masculine stereotype.

On September 2​, Chinese authorities published new guidelines for radio, television, and Internet platforms, calling for broadcasters and Internet platforms to “strictly control the selection of programme actors and guests, by making sure they have a correct political stance, good conduct, high artistic level and strong social credit.”

The National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) effectively called a boycott of effeminate men – or ‘sissy idols’ as part of ongoing plans to “clean-up” the entertainment industry.

The statement said broadcasters must “resolutely put an end to [effeminate men] and other abnormal aesthetics” ​as they do not fit what Beijing has deemed to be traditionally masculine.

5 – ‘Greater scrutiny’: Why European policy changes will create challenges for APAC’s cosmetics firms

An increasing emphasis on environmental issues will have a profound effect on the Asia Pacific cosmetics industry, said regulations experts, with the impact of policy changes in Europe​ likely to filter down to the region.

A panel of experts were gathered for the Global Fragrance Summit organised by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) to discuss the cosmetic regulatory challenges and opportunities facing the APAC region.

“I think, unfortunately, we are going to see more regulation. We're going to see greater scrutiny on all of the ingredients and greater scrutiny on all of the claims,” ​said Bronwyn Capanna, executive director, ACCORD, the Australian hygiene, personal care and speciality products industry association.

Capanna foresees that regulation will be heavily influenced by the greater emphasis on the environmental impact of cosmetic products.

6 – China CBD ban: Retailers ‘encouraged’ to pull products off shelves as regulators formally ban use in cosmetics

Retailers in China were advised to pull any cannabis-based cosmetics off the shelves​ after China’s drug regulator formally banned the use of cannabis compounds in cosmetics.

The National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) recently published the finalised list of prohibited ingredients for cosmetics.

Among the 24 newly prohibited ingredients were cannabidiol (CBD), cannabis sativa fruit, cannabis sativa seed oil and cannabis sativa leaf extract. This formalises a draft proposed in March​ to ban cannabis-based cosmetics in China.

The NMPA stated that cosmetic companies were not allowed to produce or import products containing prohibited ingredients stipulated in the new inventories from May 28.

7 – Confidence in sunscreen safety shaky as negative headlines rekindle health and environment worries - Experts

The latest round of negative headlines about the health and environmental safety of sunscreens appears to be rattling consumer confidence.

Negative publicity began in earnest last December and centred on Purito Centella Green Level Unscented Sunscreen.

The product, which was very popular online, became the target of beauty consumers everywhere when it was revealed that the product was mislabelled as an SPF 19 — less than half of the claimed SPF 50+.

Cheryl Yong, founder of Peau Peau, an online beauty retailer that used to carry the aforementioned sunscreen, told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ that the downfall of such a popular and well-loved sunscreen shook consumer confidence in sunscreen.

8 – ‘Zero tolerance’: E-commerce firms urged to combat sale of mercury-laden whitening products and plastic pollution

E-commerce companies such as Shopee and Lazada were urged to lead the fight against the sale of adulterated whitening products​ and the problem of plastic waste pollution.

According to the Philippine-based non-profit EcoWaste Coalition, there are more than 280 listings for skin-lightening cosmetic products on online shopping platforms including Lazada and Shopee.

“We have found over 280 product listings for skin lightening cosmetics, particularly facial creams, that have been banned by our health authorities for lacking market authorisation and/or for containing mercury, which is a forbidden ingredient in cosmetic product formulations,” ​said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive and the Minamata Convention, the presence of mercury is prohibited in cosmetics.

9 – China CBD ban: Asia Horizon CEO suggests how China can better regulate CBD cosmetics market

China-based CBD company Asia Horizon suggested a few ‘straightforward’ ways China​ can go about regulating CBD cosmetics instead of implementing a blanket ban over the category.

On March 26, the National Institutes for Food and Drug Control (NIFDC), announced a proposal​ to introduce legislation that would prohibit the use of cannabis and cannabis extracts in cosmetics.

The ban would include raw materials such as cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabis sativa kernel fruit, cannabis sativa seed oil, as well as cannabis sativa leaf.

Asia Horizon is Chinese hemp company that distributes Westerns CBD brands in Asia ranging from cosmetics to health supplements. Last year, the firm partnered with German CBD beauty brand Nordic Cosmetics to enter China via online flagship store on Chinese e-commerce platform Tmall – its first venture bringing in a Western CBD brand into APAC.

10 – Under scrutiny: ‘Viral’ beauty products among the 18 new categories China will monitor more closely for safety risks

China’s food and drug regulator has issued a notice stating that it plans to monitor the safety of 18 cosmetic categories​ – including products that have gone viral through the Internet.

The National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) outlined a proposal to scrutinise the safety of cosmetic products under the National Cosmetics Safety Risk Monitoring Plan.

The operation is a response to the cosmetic safety risks discovered in recent years, said the NMPA.

The published document said the objective of the operation was “to monitor and evaluate the risk factors affecting the quality and safety of cosmetics, to provide a scientific basis for the formulation of cosmetics quality and safety risk control measures and standards”

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