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China Issues the First License for Cosmetic Personalized Service

SkinCeuticals store in Shanghai was granted a production license for on-site personalized service, being allowed to provide personalized services to consumers, which marked a milestone in the development of China's personalized cosmetics industry.

On April 26, 2023, the SkinCeuticals store located in Shanghai Pudong New Area was granted a cosmetic production license for on-site personalized service by the Shanghai Municipal Medical Products Administration (MPA). This license allows the enterprise to provide consumers with personalized services that involve direct contact with cosmetic contents at the store, akin to bringing the factory to the store and producing custom-made products. As the first license of its kind in China, it marks a major achievement and a milestone in the development of the personalized cosmetics industry in both Shanghai and nationwide.

640-3.jpgCosmetic Production License for On-Site Personalized Service, Source: Shanghai MPA

Introduction to SkinCeuticals’ Personalized Service

SkinCeuticals' on-site personalized service is a four-step process that includes professional recommendation, precise proportioning, homogeneous blending, and personalized packaging. The service utilizes a mini production machine for personalized skin care products, with a blending instrument at its core. This instrument combines laboratory formula blending with factory production methods, offering eight prepared formulas that can be blended on-site, which can creates dozens of unique formula combinations.

To produce a personalized essence, production and quality inspection personnel collaborate to input the appropriate essence ratio data into the blending instrument. The instrument mixes the formula at a rapid speed of 1,200 times per minute. With the formula and the consumer's name labeled, a bottle of essence tailored to the consumer’s skin condition is ready.

640-1-1.jpgThe Scene of On-site Personalized Service in SkinCeuticals Store, Source: Wen Wei Po

Strict Application Requirements for the Personalized Service Production License

Shanghai is at the forefront of innovation and inclusivity in making cosmetics regulations and exploring the possibility of developing personalized cosmetics.

In August 2022, Shanghai implemented Several Provisions on the Innovative Development of Cosmetics Industry in Shanghai Pudong New Area, which encourages cosmetics companies to adopt small-batch, multi-variety, and highly flexible production models. 1 This approach allows for the development of cosmetics that meet the individual needs of consumers.

Afterwards, National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) issued a notice clarifying that from November 2022, Beijing Municipal, Shanghai Municipal, Zhejiang, Shandong, and Guangdong MPA would implement a one-year pilot for personalized cosmetics services. 2 Pilot enterprises in these regions were encouraged to conduct pilot projects in skin testing, product tracking, and personalized skin care services of general cosmetics.

As a pilot city, in April 2023, Shanghai released the Regulation for On-site Personalized Service Review of General Cosmetics in Pudong New Area (Trial) (hereinafter referred to as “Regulation”) for public consultation. 3 The Regulation regulates on-site subpackaging and packaging services as well as services involving direct contact with cosmetic contents. It also enhances the supporting regulatory measures for market access standards, quality and safety risk control, and operational service processes concerning on-site personalized services of general cosmetics.

According to the Regulation, to apply for personalized service production license, applicants must submit proof documents for the following requirements to the Pudong New Area Administration for Market Regulation, and assume responsibility for the documents’ authenticity.

  • The enterprise must be legally established and possess a valid business license for the business premise where on-site personalized cosmetic services will be provided;

  • The applicant must be a Chinese domestic notifier, or a Chinese domestic responsible person authorized by an overseas notifier belonging to the same group, with relevant experience in cosmetics production quality management;

  • The cosmetics used for on-site personalized services must have been notified;

  • The enterprise must have capabilities for conducting whole-process risk assessment and risk control of on-site cosmetic services and products, as well as monitoring and evaluating adverse reactions of products;

  • The enterprise must have venues, environmental conditions, services, inspection facilities and equipment suitable for on-site personalized cosmetic services;

  • The enterprise must have technicians and inspectors capable of providing on-site personalized cosmetic services;

  • The enterprise must have management systems for ingredient purchase inspection, service processes, quality control, equipment management, product inspection, and sample retention compatible with on-site personalized services of cosmetics, to ensure cosmetic quality and safety.

It can be seen that the Regulation outlines strict requirements for obtaining a production license for on-site personalized services, and only applications meeting the review criteria are granted such a license. Notably, the Regulation specifies that enterprises seeking a cosmetics on-site personalized service license must have completed product notification. For instance, SkinCeuticals has notified all of the personalized formulas offered at their Shanghai store.

Industry Comment

SkinCeuticals' acquisition of the first production license for on-site personalized service in China represents a significant breakthrough for the personalized cosmetics industry. Furthermore, Estee Lauder, and Chuangyuan are also among the three companies selected for the personalized service pilot project in Shanghai. The regulatory authorities will adopt a "one enterprise, one policy" approach to flexibly support these pilot enterprises in implementing cosmetics personalized service projects.

Liang Xue, General Manager of EasyCare Group, believes that personalized customization will undoubtedly become a trend in 2023. The introduction of cosmetics personalized service pilot projects has led numerous leading companies to conduct related research this year. 4

However, personalized services are currently limited to the frontline of sales and cannot be produced on a large scale due to the different production environment between stores and production factories, making it a significant challenge for beauty companies. Nonetheless, Shanghai MPA is confident in the future of personalized services of cosmetics. Under the guidance of NMPA, the administration will continue to improve on-site personalized service management rules, transforming this new business format from a fad to a long-term trend.

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