According to the directive recently published by the China’s State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) on its website (, cosmetic products intended for children under 12 years of age will now have to comply with a list of specific criteria in order to get registered.

The aim of the Guide for the Application and Review of Children’s Cosmetics is to standardise the application and technical review of children’s cosmetics aged of 12 or less. The text specifies the scope of application, principles of formulation, safety of cosmetics, application requirements for children’s cosmetics and review principles.

Labelling and ingredients

The text provides, in particular, that the packaging of the concerned products should be marked with a clear and unambiguous indication that they are intended for children.

As far as ingredients are concerned, the text recommends avoid using, or use less, “resinoid, colouring agents, antiseptic and surface-active agents.” Ingredients designed for skin whitening, for the lightening of freckles, for acne treatment, hair removal, for stopping perspiration, deodorising, or for hair waving and dying, or breast care and muscle enhancement are “not appropriate” in children’s cosmetics.

The SFDA also provides that the manufacturers of such products should prefer substances with a long history of safe use. In particular, ingredients derived from with genetic or nano technologies should not be used.

However, the new text remains vague on possible acceptable levels for these substances and does not mention any concentration limit.

Product safety

The risk assessment must take into account the particularities of children’s metabolism as well as the way products are used and substances contained in the formulation that are likely to promote skin penetration of ingredients.

The presence of colonies of microorganisms in cosmetics for children is limited to 500 CFU/mL or 500 CFU/g.

The SFDA will refer to these recommendations for the registration of products intended for children of 12 of age and under from the 1st February 2013.

The text (in Chinese) of these guidelines is available here below or on the website of the SFDA: