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[Updated] China Alerts the Use of Whitening Ingredient Phenylethyl Resorcinol (SymWhite 377) in General Cosmetics

The addition of phenethyl resorcinol in general cosmetics is suspected of exceeding the scope of general cosmetics and will result in notification failure.

Recent Updates

On November 30, 2021, China NMPA officially issued a notice, announcing that the addition of whitening ingredient SymWhite 377 in general cosmetics is suspected of violating the relevant provisions of the Cosmetic Supervision and Administration Regulation and Administrative Measures on Cosmetics Registration and Notification, and will be investigated and dealt with by the provincial medical products administrations. All provincial medical products administration shall report the investigation and handling progress of the general cosmetics added with SymWhite 377 to NMPA by December 20 this year. 1

Following NMPA’s notice, the medical products administration (MPA) of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the Market Regulation Administration of Guangzhou successively issued notices on the handling of already notified cosmetics with whitening ingredient SymWhite 377. Details are as follows: 

Release Date


Main Content

Dec. 10, 2021

MPA of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region 2

Some notified general cosmetics use phenylethyl resorcinol (the ingredient only for skin whitening), which is beyond the scope of general cosmetics. Relevant cosmetics notifiers are required to take the initiative to withdraw notifications and recall the product before December 16, 2021. Otherwise, the medical products administrations will investigate and deal with the enterprises that refuse to carry out the order in accordance with the laws.

Dec. 10, 2021

Guangzhou Market Regulation Administration 3

Phenylethyl resorcinol is not allowed to be used in general cosmetics. Enterprises should stop producing such products and take the initiative to withdraw product notifications as soon as possible.

(Last Updated on Dec. 14, 2021)

Recently, cosmetic industry insiders revealed that China National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) is organizing spot check of the notification information on the new notification platform, with the focus placed on general cosmetics that contain whitening ingredients such as phenethyl resorcinol (commonly known as SymWhite 377 in the industry). These products often claim “skin brightening and skin whitening." Such products are suspected of special cosmetics with whitening efficacy, which exceeds the scope of general cosmetics. All notifiers are required to strictly check the notification dossiers, prohibit the use of restricted or permitted ingredients beyond their scope or limits, and prohibit illegal claims and exaggerated publicity.

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