CHAILEEDO found that the majority of merchants on online platforms offered cosmetic customization services claiming to customize whitening and spot removal products, which are “unsafe and suspected of being illegal”.
Recently, according to many media, cosmetics claiming to be “personalized cosmetics” are trendy on online shopping platforms and some live streaming. Sellers promote buyers’ purchase through customized solutions, targeted ratios and so-called amazing effects.
CHAILEEDO found that the vast majority of businesses offering personalized cosmetics services on online platforms currently claim to customize whitening and spot removal products. An industry source pointed out, “This year’s policy relaxation is the customization of ordinary cosmetics. Some merchants selling such customized special-purpose cosmetics may be punished for violating policies and regulations.”
Customized products proliferate with prices as high as 10,000 yuan
It is understood that personalized cosmetics on the Chinese market can be broadly divided into efficacy customization (modular cosmetics) and ingredient customization (one-of-a-kind cosmetics). The efficacy customization model is mainly reflected in the matching and composition of different efficacy cosmetics and relies heavily on the range of modular products to choose from. The ingredient customization model, on the other hand, highlights the ability to provide original ingredients to create unique cosmetic products to meet individual diversity needs.
Regardless of the model, however, personalized cosmetics require matching and adjusting to consumers’ personal tastes and skin needs, and can meet consumers’ emotional needs for privacy and exclusivity in some extent. Because of this, personalized cosmetics have always been highly sought after by consumers from offline cosmetic stores and beauty salons to online stores and live-streaming. This trend is expanding larger making this sector more and more chaotic.
CHAILEEDO found that on Taobao, Douyin (TikTok China), Kwai and other e-commerce platforms, there are many stores selling personalized skincare cosmetics, product categories include lotion, emulsion, essence, facial cleanser, mask, sunscreen, etc., claiming efficacy involving hydration, firming, spot removing and acne, whitening, etc. The lowest price is less than 100 yuan (about $14.4), the highest reached 14,800 yuan (about $2128.2).
As you can see, personalized cosmetics are comparable to those produced on a large scale only in terms of the types of products covered and the efficacy claimed. So, as for the products, are the personalized cosmetics sold by online stores reliable?
On the Taobao platform, CHAILEEDO randomly asked a merchant of cosmetic store that offers personalized cosmetics services. According to the merchant, if consumers want personalized cosmetics, they need to describe their skin condition and needs, and preferably provide a photo of their skin, and then the merchant will make one-to-one skin measurements according to their skin condition and requirements. Because of the time required for modulation and preparation, the delivery date is usually 2-7 days.
In addition, there are price fluctuations according to the differences in the categories and efficacy of the customized products. For example, the store shows a series of personalized whitening products price ranging from 108 yuan – 238 yuan (about $15.5-$34.2). The price of personalized face cream, eye cream are much higher. According to the store customer service, it can also be in a single product with multiple effects based on consumers’ demand, while meeting the needs of such as whitening, acne, hydration.
“Unsafe and allegedly illegal”
Personalized cosmetics are becoming popular on online platform. Are its sales model and product compliant?
It is worth mentioning that in November 2022, the official website of the National Medical Products Administration released the Notice of the Comprehensive Department of the National Medical Products Administration on the Piloting of Personalized Cosmetic Services (hereinafter referred to as the Notice), deciding to carry out piloting of personalized cosmetic services in some areas, which means that personalized cosmetics ushered in policy encouragement and support.
However, the relaxation of policy does not mean that the above-mentioned store sales model is compliant. The Notice clearly states that the cosmetics for the pilot implementation of personalized services should be ordinary cosmetics, excluding special-purpose cosmetics, children’s cosmetics and cosmetics using new ingredients. CHAILEEDO found that the vast majority of businesses offering personalized cosmetic services on online platforms currently claim to customize whitening and spot removal products.
In other words, if a business sells personalized special-purpose cosmetics, there is a high risk of being punished for selling “unregistered cosmetics”.
In addition, the Notice also has strict entry thresholds for personalized service pilot enterprises, such as the need for “above-scale enterprises with good reputation, independent production capacity and strong research and development capabilities, and a sound production quality management system”.
Urgent need for regulatory standards
Viewing the market demand, the pursuit of personalization of contemporary young women has made cosmetic customization a consumer segmentation trend. According to data released by market research firm InsightAce Analytic, the size of the next-generation customized beauty market has reached 265 billion yuan (about $38.1 billion) in 2019 and will exceed 500 billion yuan (about $71.9 billion) in 2028.
Shen Yingjie, assistant general manager of COSMAX (China) Cosmetics Co., Ltd. then told CHAILEEDO, “What COSMAX has been trying to do is to give each person a different formula, but each formula has to be sent for testing and a report. The current cost is too high to be commercialized.”
Therefore, although personalized cosmetics are currently a new trend in the industry, the number of companies that have really invested a lot of time and energy into the business is still a minority. Fan Jun, general manager of Shanghai Lan Meiyi Cosmetics Co., Ltd. also said that the impact of the epidemic in the past two years, there are not many brands that do personalized cosmetics.
Due to the high demand and low market concentration, some small factories and workshops exploit the loopholes. “The authorities are still not in place to regulate and govern the platform.” In response to the chaos of custom cosmetics in the online platform, the person in charge of a foundry company said so.
In this regard, there is also a public analysis that in the product sampling system, due to the limitations of the supervision and inspection departments in terms of manpower and technology, there are vast majority cosmetics slipped through the net. Some unscrupulous enterprises have a fluke, not only want to personalize to gain attention and sales, but also want to avoid reporting and quality inspection sampling.
In general, personalized cosmetics is in urgent need of legal regulation of chaos. If the authorities punish the illegal actions while conducting a pilot program of personalized cosmetic services, it may help the development of personalized cosmetics market. This is the only way to clear the way for the custom cosmetics market to flourish.