On May 13, 2021, MFDS published a notification1 of cosmetics violating the advertisement requirements.
As the online shopping of homecare products surged during COVID 19 pandemic, MFDS inspected the 502 cosmetics sold online to ensure product safety. 336 products were found with false advertisements of medical efficacies, most of which were cellulite cream. The authority emphasized the importance of promoting products legally, and showed the examples of non-compliance advertisement cases for enterprises' reference:
The advertising words in the above cases may indicate the cosmetics have medical efficacies, which is prohibited in Cosmetics Act2 (Find more study cases here3). In accordance with Article 13 of Cosmetic Act2, the improper advertisements for general cosmetics are:
Advertisements likely to mislead consumers into thinking the cosmetics are medicines
(1) Advertisements likely to mislead consumers into thinking the general cosmetics are functional cosmetics;
(2) Advertisements exceeding the scope of the examination undergone on the safety and efficacy of functional cosmetics, or advertisements different from such examination results;
Advertisements likely to mislead consumers into thinking the cosmetics without natural or organic certification are natural cosmetics or organic cosmetics;
Other advertisements likely to deceive or mislead consumers by misrepresentation, including:
a. Product name, effectiveness, and other expressions likely to mislead consumers into thinking the cosmetics are medicine;
b. Product name, manufacturing method, effectiveness, and other expressions likely to mislead consumers into thinking the general cosmetics are functional cosmetics, natural cosmetics, or organic cosmetics;
c. Improper contents demonstrating that cosmetics are recommended or used by a doctor, medical institute, research institute (except certificate institutes designated by MFDS);
d. Advertisements likely to mislead consumers into thinking the foreign cosmetics are Korean cosmetics or Korean cosmetics are foreign cosmetics;
e. Comparison with competition products unobjectively or using superlatives (such as "(최고)the best", "(최초)the first", etc.);
f. False fact;
g. Undetermined effectiveness;
h. Vulgar and obscene expressions;
i. Using international endangered species as materials;
j. Slandering other products.
Proper advertising helps companies improve visibility, increase sales, and support growth in the Korean market. Therefore, complying with advertising requirements4 is essential. Otherwise, a maximum administrative disposition of suspending advertising the relevant product for 12 months might be imposed on the business entities failing to comply with South Korea's requirements.