On December 28, 2016, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety of Korea (the “MFDS”) announced main policies in the food/pharmaceutical sector for 2017 that will differ from the prior year. Such policies to be amended focus on securing public confidence and trust by reinforcing safety management system in the food/pharmaceutical/quasi-drug/cosmetic/medical device sector. The major details of the safety policy in the cosmetic sector that is to be amended for 2017 are as follows.

1. Mandatory Labeling of Use-By Date for Small Volume Cosmetics and Cosmetic Samples 

Under the amended policy, starting from February 2017, the manufacturing number and use-by date or best-before date after opening shall be labeled on the package of small volume cosmetics (i.e., volume not exceeding 10ml or 10g) and cosmetic samples. Previously, with respect to small volume cosmetics and cosmetic samples, the Cosmetics Act of Korea required only the product name, trade name and price of a cosmetic to be stated and/or labeled on the package of such cosmetic. Considering that the use-by date had not been a mandatory labeling item, it had been difficult for consumers to know the manufacturing date or use-by date of small volume cosmetics and cosmetic samples. Through such amendment, the MFDS intends to strengthen the labeling regulation for small volume cosmetics and cosmetic samples (to the same extent as regular cosmetics for sale), and thereby increase product information accessibility and user satisfaction for consumers. 

2. Expanded Scope of Functional Cosmetics 

Under the amended policy, starting from May 2017, the scope of functional cosmetics shall be expanded in order to promote premium cosmetics among others. Currently, the scope of functional cosmetics is limited to only three types of products, i.e., whitening, wrinkle improvement and UV protection. However, this scope of functional cosmetics will be dramatically expanded to cover ten types through the conversion of four types of quasi-drugs to functional cosmetics and the addition of three types to the functional cosmetic category.

The four types of quasi-drugs to be converted to functional cosmetics are hair dye products, decolorizing/desalination products, depilatories and hair loss prevention products. The three types to be newly added to the functional cosmetic category are products reducing dryness of sensitive skin (such as atopic skin), products preventing acne skin from skin keratinization and dryness and products protecting damaged skin by improving skin chapping and stretch marks. Therefore, the amended policy will enable cosmetic manufacturers to produce functional cosmetics, including hair dye products, hair loss prevention products and callus removers. 

By amending its safety policy in the cosmetic sector, the MFDS intends, on one hand, to conform to global standards for the classification of cosmetics, and on the other hand, to match the global trend of diversification and contribute to the advancement of the cosmetic industry by expanding the scope of functional cosmetics.