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Strict-ever Limits for Pb/As in Cosmetics in China

  •   24 Dec 2012
  •    Echo Cao
  •  2120
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    The updated Hygienic Standard for Cosmetics 2007, renamed as Technical Standard for Safety of Cosmetics (Chemlinked news on 7 Dec), has reduced the maximum allowable quantity of Pb and As from 40mg/kg and 10mg/kg to 10mg/kg and 4mg/kg, respectively, which means the government will set higher requirements on the content of impurities in cosmetic products as well as the selection of raw materials and the production process.

    The table below shows different limits of Pb/As in cosmetics in China, EU, USA, and Japan:

    Toxic substance






    10 mg/kg

    10 mg/kg

    20 mg/kg

    20 mg/kg


    4 mg/kg

    2 mg/kg

    3 mg/kg

    2 mg/kg

    After the amendment, the limit of Pb is half of that in the USA and Japan. Therefore, it is highly recommended that products exported from the USA and Japan into China must keep the amount of Pb under 10mg/kg.

    The stricter limits are formulated to tackle the current messy situation in Chinese cosmetics market. Previously, industry leading companies such as Maybelline, L’Oreal and Clinique were exposed to produce cosmetics with excessive amount of toxic substances or banned ingredients.

    Low technology could be blamed to the excessive amount of unwanted ingredients in the cosmetics, for example, they could be introduced with the raw materials into the finished products unavoidably. Experts from cosmetics associations expressed that there would be no technical problem for most cosmetic manufacturers in China to comply with the new limits. However, some small companies with backward equipment and technology may be faced with close-down or mergers by larger ones. Nevertheless, it is believed that the new standard, in the long term, will stimulate cosmetic producers to upgrade outdated facilities and put more investment in the research and development sector in the company.

    However, it is still unknown when exactly the new limits will come into effect. The revised Technical Standard includes two main parts: the body and three annexes. Currently, the SFDA just consulted its body text but the annexes still remain under revision. 

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