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Interview Vol. 6 | Focus on Malaysia: Cosmetic Market Trends, Regulatory Differences with ASEAN, and Compliance Challenges

According to Statista, revenues in the Malaysian beauty and personal care market have reached 2.5 billion USD in 2021 and are expected to grow annually by 4% until 2025. Due to the relatively low import tariffs on cosmetics, the simple notification procedures, and relatively high per capita national income of 10,000 USD, many international cosmetics companies plan to enter Malaysia. ChemLinked invited Ms. Thulasi, CEO from Victory Pharma Consultancy, to talk about the new trends in the Malaysian cosmetic market, the differences between Malaysia and ASEAN cosmetic regulations, and the challenges foreign companies may encounter. Spoiler alert: she believes products with convenient packing, two-in-one features, and natural cosmetics are in high demand in Malaysia. Find out more!
1. Could you please briefly summarize the characteristics of the Malaysian cosmetic market in 2021? Are there any highlights or new trends in the Malaysian market?

1) If you look at the Malaysian cosmetic market in 2021, due to the increasingly busy lifestyles, consumers are seeking convenient, space-saving, and portable cosmetic products that are easily carried around and to be applied. So they are looking for products with more convenient packing and unique features. When we go into a retail store, we don't see how great the product is, actually we would see how easy or how portable the product is. So the convenient packing and unique features are at the top of the list.

2) Local consumers seek brands that produce cosmetic products with multiple features (e.g., two-in-one features).

3) The increase in personal well-being and appearance consciousness among Malaysians, which has positively impacted the Malaysia skin care products market size for both males and females. And I think in 2025, it is expected to grow up in market size.

4) Natural cosmetic products have also increased in market size. Because in Malaysia, we are more concerned about are the natural ingredients of cosmetic products.

These four are the main expectations of Malaysian consumers.

2. Are there any differences in cosmetic regulations between Malaysia and ASEAN?

Local cosmetic guideline in Malaysia is 95% similar to ASEAN guidelines. However, Malaysian local guidelines should be read in conjunction with other local regulations as follows:

  • Sale of Drugs Act 1952

  • Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984

  • Dangerous Drugs Act 1952

  • Poisons Act 1952

  • Medicines (Advertisement & Sale) Act 1956

  • Patents Act 1983

  • Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Laws of Malaysia Act 716)

  • International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008 (Act 686)

  • Medical Device Act 2012

  • Trade Descriptions Act 2011

There are not many differences between Malaysian and ASEAN cosmetic regulatory requirements. During the notification process in Malaysia, applicants have to attach the final product artwork. A disclaimer is mandatory on the product artwork for those containing animal-derived ingredients.

The requirement for labeling is country-specific in language, which can be Bahasa Malaysia or English.

3. Are there any challenges for foreign companies to export or notify cosmetics in Malaysia?

1) First of all, most foreign companies may have some difficulties in forming a local company with an experienced regulatory person in Malaysia because they have to abide by local regulations.

2) Being a mandatory procedure, appointing a local partner or a local distributor in Malaysia would also be a difficulty foreign companies face.

3) Another thing is that the authority will conduct audits on products notified in Malaysia. For example, when foreign companies appoint a CNH (cosmetic notification holder) to notify products, the authority will conduct audits every six months. Foreign companies have to communicate with manufacturers, compile all the product information files, and give them to the authority. So most foreign companies may have difficulties in this part because of improper communications with manufacturers.

4) Also, some foreign companies may find it difficult for their products to comply with local regulations in Malaysia.

Other than the above four things, the notification is quite simple for foreign companies to handle.

Webinar Recommendation

For more insights from Ms. Thulasi on Malaysian cosmetic regulations, welcome to watch ChemLinked webinar held on Sep. 22, which covers cosmetic notification and importation details, possible difficulties, and suggestions for companies.

530-300-materials1x.pngAbout the Expert:


Thulasi Letchimanan


Thulasi is currently a fully registered pharmacist where she initially started off her career as a regulatory pharmacist in a local government linked pharmaceutical company for about 3 years. Later she has ventured in a retail pharmacy where she practiced dispensing for about year. Following retail experience, she gained more experience in a drug distribution company for 3 years. Passionate in her regulatory job, now that she has initiated her own company Victory Pharma Consultancy in 2018 where she has started drug registration and other regulatory services assisting many companies to meet their objectives. This company is basically providing consultation on various regulatory issues faced by many companies both locally and internationally with Malaysia Ministry of Health. As a degree holder in pharmaceutical science and technology, she has a wide experience in guiding pharmaceutical companies to set their own business locally more to health/pharmaceutical business. Her professional team of Victory Pharma Consultancy is open to welcome many opportunities in future.

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