Monthly Digest: China Cosmetic Sector Review | Dec 2023
BY Rita BaoJan 04, 2024


  • Market Condition

  • Company Dynamics

  • E-commerce

  • Regulatory Compliance


Market Condition

1. According to the General Administration of Customs, the import value of cosmetics was CNY 9.59 billion in November, down 23.7% YoY. The cumulative import value from January to November reached CNY 117.51 billion, with a 14.8% YoY decrease. The import value of cosmetics has experienced a continuous double-digit decline for eight consecutive months, with the largest drop occurring in November.

2. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, retail sales of cosmetic products in November amounted to CNY 54.8 billion, with a 3.5% YoY decline. The cumulative retail sales of cosmetics from January to November totaled CNY 384.3 billion, showing a modest growth of 4.7% YoY, lower than the 7.2% YoY increase in the total retail sales of overall consumer goods during the same period.

3. According to the National Medical Products Administration, by the end of December, 69 new ingredients have been filed in 2023, a significant increase compared to the filing numbers in 2022 (42 items) and 2021 (6 items). While chemical ingredients still hold the largest portion, there is noticeable growth in botanical ingredients and biotechnological materials, making them potential highlights in ingredient filing.

4. As reported by "Cosmetic Observer," over 30 beauty brands have announced closures or withdrawal in 2023. This includes at least 9 domestic brands and 21 internationally recognized brands such as e.l.f., First Aid Beauty, Huda Beauty, Amplitude, and Benefit, declaring the closure of flagship stores or exit from the Chinese market.

5. PANTONE has revealed PANTONE® 13-1023 Peach Fuzz as the color of the year 2024. This color embodies qualities of gentleness, comfort, and friendliness, making it particularly well-suited for feminine goods. Beauty brands have swiftly embraced the trend, introducing new products inspired by the "Peach Fuzz" color or concept. For example, the collaboration between DSM-Firmenich and PANTONE has brought forth a unique Peach Fuzz fragrance, conveying a sense of intimacy, security, and comfort.

6. During the Christmas season, international beauty brands like YSL, Guerlain, DIOR, Chanel continue their tradition of launching Christmas limited editions. It's worth noting that this year has seen a growing number of Chinese domestic brands joining the lineup. Brands such as JOOCYEE, JUDYDOLL, Into You, BlankMe, RED CHAMBER, etc., have introduced eye-catching new products for the festive season.

Company Dynamics

1. L'Oréal Age Perfect Collagene Royal’s second-generation upgrade has been launched, claiming to have added recombinant collagen for the first time. Since its launch, the sales of the second-generation products have surpassed 200,000 units on TMALL. In recent years, recombinant collagen has gained momentum, emerging as the next rising star in the anti-aging skincare sector. Notably, both Shiseido and LVMH have invested in Chinese recombinant collagen enterprises. According to Frost & Sullivan, the market size of recombinant collagen has experienced remarkable growth in China, surging from 1.5 billion yuan in 2017 to 18.5 billion yuan in 2022. Projections suggest it will reach 108.3 billion yuan in 2027, with a CAGR of 42.4% from 2022 to 2027.

2. Estée Lauder's early-stage venture arm, New Incubation Ventures, has taken a minority stake in the Chinese fragrance brand Melt Season. This strategic move signifies Estée Lauder's first investment in a Chinese fragrance brand, following its earlier minority investment in the Chinese skincare and makeup brand CodeMint in September 2023.

Recommended Reading: Beauty Giants' New Moves to Strengthen Presence in the Chinese Market

3. L Catterton, the LVMH-backed private equity firm, has made significant investments in two Chinese beauty brands. The first investment is in the Chinese foundation brand BlankMe, founded in 2019, which has witnessed substantial growth, solidifying its position as one of the leading Chinese foundation brands. The second investment is in the children's skincare brand Hi!papa, which has emerged as a dark horse in the infant and children's skincare sector.

4. Shiseido has unveiled its IPSA ULX Customization Center in Shanghai, marking the company's first personalized cosmetic service project in China. At the IPSA ULX Customization Center, consumers undergo a specialized skin test through IPSALYZER, the brand's exclusive skin testing device, assessing over 20 skin dimensions. Following the skin analysis, IPSA provides customers with a tailored ingredient formula that aligns with their skin profile, based on which the ME CUSTOM ULX cream products are produced to address these skin issues.

5. The first Café Dior in China has officially opened at Taikoo Li Qiantan in Pudong, Shanghai. The café not only serves coffee but also offers a fusion of French and Asian-flavored delicacies. In recent years, luxury brands have ventured into the coffee business as part of a strategy to enrich the in-store experience and attract increased foot traffic. These coffee shops serve not only as an extension of the brand's identity but also boast strong social attributes, attracting consumers for distinctive experiences and amplifying brand exposure.

6. South Korean facial mask brand Papa Recipe has ceased operations on Chinese e-commerce platforms. Papa Recipe entered the Chinese market in 2014 and became a hot-selling product from 2015 onwards, with annual sales reaching 2 billion at its peak. The brand's decline in the Chinese market is attributed to several factors. On one hand, the products themselves lost competitiveness as consumers increasingly prioritized the ingredients and high efficacy of facial masks, such as soothing, repairing, pore-shrinking, whitening, etc. On the other hand, the rise of Chinese beauty brands has led to a declining awareness of South Korean brands among consumers.

Recommended Reading: Decoding the Consumer Trends in China's Flourishing Facial Mask Market

7. In the 2023 Douyin beauty rankings, Kans surpassed domestic and international giants with a GMV exceeding 3.3 billion yuan, securing the top position. Kans' thriving sales can be primarily attributed to its captivating short drama marketing, which offers a more engaging narrative that conveys brand messages and attracts consumers through a softer approach.

8. Freda, the Chinese hyaluronic acid giant, on its 25th anniversary, has unveiled its latest research achievements in the recombinant collagen field and launched its first medical beauty brand, KeyC. This move signifies the company's strategic initiative to establish a robust presence in China's recombinant collagen industry.

9. Shanghai Jahwa has launched an online AI sensitive skin testing system, assisting consumers in accurately identifying their sensitive skin type and promptly selecting suitable products. China's sensitive skin care market has experienced significant growth in recent years. With the ongoing evolution of skincare philosophies, there is a growing demand for personalized skincare tailored to sensitive skin types.


1. Taobao and have rolled out a "refund only" policy, aligning with the refund rules of their rival Pinduoduo. While Pinduoduo's "refund only" policy has been controversial and caused discontent among merchants, this approach has undeniably earned Pinduoduo high praise among users. The adoption of the "refund only" policy by Taobao and signifies a strategic move to attract users in this fiercely competitive e-commerce landscape.

Recommended Reading: In the Race with Pinduoduo, Taobao and JD Embracing "Refund Only" Services

2. In 2023, the GMV of beauty products on Douyin exceeded 100 billion yuan, with the facial skincare category accounting for the largest share, followed by facial makeup and facial beauty tool categories. In terms of growth, nearly half of the segments experienced an increase of over 50%, with the men's makeup segment showing the highest growth. Delving deeper into the facial skincare category, basic care needs such as sun protection, moisturizing, hydration, and improving skin texture maintained relatively stable growth. Advanced skincare needs, including skin firmness, anti-aging, and barrier repair, exhibited rapid growth.

Regulatory Compliance

1. ChemLinked summarized the upcoming regulatory requirements and expiring transition policies in 2024, covering major countries across the globe, including China, Japan, South Korea, ASEAN, EU, UK and US. More information on ChemLinked.

Disclaimer: All images used in the article are from the Internet. 

Rita Bao
ChemLinked Regulatory Analyst
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