Characteristics of new cosmetic ingredients notified in China from Q1 to Q3 2023:
- NCIs sources: chemical sources remain dominant; plant extracts are on the rise;
- Use purpose: skin protectant, moisturizer and antioxidant account for more than half;
- Notifiers: Chinese domestic enterprises account for 74.3%;
- Future trends: the total number of NCI notifications is expected to grow, with a focus on ingredients that have already been allowed for use in cosmetics abroad and ingredients sourced from diverse fields.
Since the official implementation of Cosmetic Supervision and Administration Regulation (CSAR) in 2021, China National Medical Product Administration (NMPA) has implemented classified management on cosmetic products and new cosmetic ingredients (NCIs) according to their risk degree. High-risk NCIs are required to be registered with NMPA. While for low-risk NCIs, as long as enterprises complete the submission of dossiers online, the NCI is considered as “notified” and then can be manufactured and imported, which reduces the threshold for NCI to enter the Chinese market.
Following explosive growth in 2022, the number of NCI notifications continues to grow in 2023. According to information from NMPA’s data query platform, 35 NCIs were notified from Q1 to Q3 2023. This trend suggests that ingredient innovation has become a core focus for beauty enterprises to maintain a competitive edge.
Characteristics of NCIs Notified from Q1 to Q3 2023
1. NCIs sources: chemical sources remain dominant; plant extracts are on the rise
From Q1 to Q3 2023, most of the notified NCIs were derived from chemical sources, while a few were from plants, biotechnology, animals and hydrolysis technology.
Due to the low safety risk associated with the ingredient structure of chemical ingredients (polymers), only skin and eye irritation/corrosion tests and skin phototoxicity tests are required. These alternative test methods are already incorporated into the Safety and Technical Standards for Cosmetics (STSC). As many foreign countries/regions, including the EU, the US, and Japan, currently prohibit animal testing in cosmetics, notifiers from these countries/regions prefer to notify chemical ingredients (polymers).
Despite the dominance of chemical ingredients, enterprises are increasingly interested in plant-derived ingredients. As consumers are increasingly seeking out safe, clean, and sustainable beauty products, products that contain plant-derived ingredients are gaining greater recognition. This trend is demonstrated by the rise in plant-derived NCIs notifications. “Consumers are becoming more conscious of the safety of the products they use, and they prefer ingredients that are both effective and safe. Therefore, many enterprises are focusing on developing ingredients using plant extraction technology and fermentation technology,” according to Lei Zhang, Chief Engineer of Tianjin Shangmei.
2. Use purpose: skin protectant, moisturizer and antioxidant account for more than half
Most notified NCIs are primarily used as skin protectants, followed by those for moisturizing and anti-oxidation purposes.
“Skin protectant is a relatively general type of ingredient, which can include functions such as moisturizing, repairing, nourishing, firming, etc. The reason why functional ingredients are notified as skin protectants is to allow for more possibilities in their development. The current technology may limit the research of NCIs. To avoid the application for an update of the NCI’s technical requirements in case new functions are discovered in subsequent research, it’s more convenient to notify the ingredient as a skin protectant.” Zhang explained.
3. Notifiers: Chinese domestic enterprises account for 74.3%
According to NMPA’s data query platform, overseas enterprises are the main notifiers of the 42 NCIs notified in 2022. However, from Q1 to Q3 2023, 26 out of the 35 NCIs notified are from Chinese domestic enterprises, accounting for 74.3%. Among these, Shenzhen Winkey Pharmaceutical R&D Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Winkey”) is the most active applicant, with 4 NCIs notified within nine months.
According to the marketing department head of Winkey, the increase in Chinese domestic notifiers this year can be attributed to their experience gained in the past. Previously, these enterprises were still in a groping stage, but they have since learned from their experiences and are now considering how to utilize R&D resources and platforms to better prepare for NCI notifications and avoid detours.
New regulations and market demands have motivated Chinese enterprises to challenge the monopoly of overseas enterprises in the cosmetic ingredients field. Their high enthusiasm to notify NCI indicates that the NCI market is very thriving.
4. Future trends: the total number of NCI notifications is expected to grow, with a focus on ingredients that have already been allowed for use in cosmetics abroad
1) A Significant Increase in NCI Notifications
Lei Zhang predicts a significant increase in NCI notifications in the long term. She said, “market competition has intensified, and many enterprises are actively pursuing this track.”
2) Focus on Ingredients Allowed for Use in Cosmetics Abroad
Shuquan Lao, the China Regional Director of Symrise’s Cosmetic Ingredients Department, believes that future NCI notifications may include ingredients that have been included in the international ingredient catalogue but have not yet been listed in Inventory of Existing Cosmetic Ingredients in China (IECIC). Notably, among the 35 NCIs notified from Q1 to Q3 2023, the majority have already been allowed for use in cosmetics abroad and are included in the International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook and have their own INCI name.
The International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook (16th Edition) currently includes 22,620 cosmetic ingredients, while IECIC only includes 8,972. This significant difference in the number of ingredients listed in Chinese and international catalogues means that there is a huge space for the great number of ingredients that have been used in cosmetics abroad to be introduced into China for NCI notification.
3) Focus on Ingredients Sourced from Diverse Fields
Companies are currently placing emphasis on ingredients that find applications across multiple industries. Some of the notified NCIs are sourced from diverse fields such as medicine, food, and health food. Examples of such ingredients include Acetylneuraminic Acid, Tissue Culture of Saussurea Involucrata, and Euphausia Superba Oil. Of particular interest is the increasing number of notifications for β-Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN), which has garnered the attention of four companies that have completed a total of five notifications for NMN.
NMN holds significant popularity as a health food ingredient in certain countries, where it is renowned for its claimed anti-aging function and has earned the moniker of the “elixir of aging.” The skincare industry also anticipates the use of NMN for its anti-aging function.
However, it is important to note that NMN has yet to receive approval for use in drugs, health foods, and foods in China. Its notification as a new cosmetic ingredient represents just the initial step towards market availability. The notified NCIs will then undergo a three-year monitoring period, during which additional research data and clinical applications will be accumulated to establish its safety.
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