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Business News/ Industry / Retail/  A make-up call: Drug regulator casts a sharper eye on imported cosmetics
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A make-up call: Drug regulator casts a sharper eye on imported cosmetics

India’s drugs standards watchdog has asked companies importing cosmetics to provide details such as the number of consignments, the bills of entry, quantity and cost as it looks to weed out substandard products.

According to Statista, India imports large amounts of beauty and skin care products from China, the UK and South Korea. Photo: AFPPremium
According to Statista, India imports large amounts of beauty and skin care products from China, the UK and South Korea. Photo: AFP

New Delhi: India's regulator for cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and medical devices has asked companies to provide annual statements with details of the cosmetics they import into the country. The move by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) is aimed at tackling an apparent increase in complaints involving substandard imported cosmetics.

According to a circular issued on 23 February by the directorate general of health services, Dr Rajeev Singh Raghuvanshi, CDSCO has asked companies to provide details such as the number of consignments, the bills of entry, the quantity and cost of each consignment, and the warehouse in which they were stored.

The regulator said it decided to do so after the government noticed that cosmetics importers were not providing these details to the Central Licensing Authority, which they are required to do under the Cosmetics Rules 2020. Mint has seen a copy of the circular.

An email sent to the health ministry did not elicit an immediate response.

According to Statista, India imports large amounts of beauty and skin care products from China ($59.81 million a year), the UK ($28.91 million) and South Korea ($25.06 million). But some of these products have been noticed causing serious skin issues, according to health experts.

"There are hair dyes that claim to be safe (free of para-phenylenediamine or PPD) but actually contain PPD, which can cause severe allergic reactions including swelling of the face," said Dr Kabir Sardana, head of dermatology at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, referring to imported cosmetics. 

“Some hair serums can actually cause hair loss. As there is no prescription involved the patient can’t do anything [if something goes wrong]."

Dr Sardana noted that imported facial products are made primarily for the European climate and are thus rich in moisturisers, which cause acne in Indian skin. 

"Many people use sunscreens which are not needed as Indian skin has an intrinsic SPF15. These sunscreens have varied bases, and besides those with non-sticky matte finishes, almost all lead to cosmetic acne," he added.

The import of cosmetics products into India is regulated through an online portal run by the CDSCO to ensure their safety and quality. Once a cosmetic product is registered on the portal, the Central Licensing Authority issues an import registration certificate under Rule 13 of the Cosmetics Rules 2020 for its import into and sale within India.

These rules govern a wide variety of cosmetics including skin-care products, body hair removal products, make-up, perfumes, antiperspirants, hair and scalp products, and oral hygiene products. India’s beauty and personal care market is valued at $16.8 billion and expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 11%.

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Published: 27 Feb 2024, 06:58 PM IST
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