Many Western brands of natural and organic cosmetics have withdrawn from the Chinese market from 2013, with WeledaLaveraPangea OrganicLogona and Juice Beauty some of the brands that removed their products in protest against animal-testing methods on ethical grounds.

Starting June 2014, China was phasing out its requirement that new, domestically manufactured, “ordinary” cosmetics and personal care products be tested on animals.

Foreign-manufactured cosmetics (unless they are packaged in bulk in China) will still have to be animal tested, as will “special-use cosmetics” such as hair dyes, antiperspirant deodorants, sunscreens and skin-whitening products.

There are loopholes such as going through the B2C online shopping site Tmall international, which allows brands to import into China directly without having to undergo animal testing.

And cosmetics purchased on foreign e-commerce sites for shipment to China do not require animal testing.

Brands trying to conquer the Chinese cosmetics market using Tmall include L’Occitane and Japan’s largest beauty community website, @cosme, which has invested in a Chinese-language service on Tmall.

However, using beauty retailer’s websites would avoid the discounting being seen on Tmall.

Major Australian organic & natural cosmetics brand Lanopearl continues to sell its four Australian natural cosmetics brands into China through a local distributor, but not its (Australian) certified organic cosmetics and essential oils.

Lanopearl managing director Gino Hsu said that the company, through its local distributor, had explored applying for organic certification as a domestic supplier.

To import cosmetics into China, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council said that for cosmetics, in addition to obtaining an Approval Document for Hygiene Licence, an importer must also apply for a Verification Certificate for Chinese Labelling on Imported Cosmetics before reporting to the inspection and quarantine department.

With a Hygiene Licence, a Verification Certificate for Chinese Labelling and an Inspection Certificate on hand, an importer may obtain a Notice of Customs Clearance from the Commodity Inspection Bureau to proceed with normal customs declaration procedures.

Pursuant to China’s WTO commitments, a final bound tariff rate of 10% has been applied to imported lip and eye make-up preparations and powders since 1 January 2005. As for other imported cosmetics, a final bound tariff rate of 6.5% has been levied since 2008.

Under Chinese organic product certification rules, products such as cosmetics without organic certificates may not display such markings as “organic product” on their packages and label and cannot be offered for sale.

The China Food & Drug Administration (CFDA) has a department of drugs and cosmetics registration. It reviews dossiers of new ingredients to be introduced in China via the Cosmetic Evaluation Centre, which is supported by expert committees that evaluate registration dossiers of the ingredients as well as the registration of finished products.

The CFDA issues Cosmetic Hygiene Permits for finished products, which is mandatory before any introduction onto the Chinese market.

HKTDC Report