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Cosmetics and Toiletries (COS)


Cosmetics and Toiletries Unit: USD thousands




2014 (estimated)


Total Market Size





Total Local Production





Total Exports





Total Imports





Imports from the U.S.





Exchange Rate: 1 USD





Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports)
Data Sources:
- Total Local Production: Census of Industrial Production and Industry sources
- Total Exports: Hong Kong Trade Statistics
- Total Imports: Hong Kong Trade Statistics
- Imports from U.S.: Hong Kong Trade Statistics.

Imports dominate Hong Kong’s large, lucrative and growing market for cosmetics, toiletries, and skincare products. France was Hong Kong’s largest supplier of the US$1.8 billion market in 2013. The U.S., China and Japan were the other major suppliers. Hong Kong imported US$486 million worth of cosmetics, toiletry and skincare products from the U.S. in 2013. Imports of cosmetics, toiletry and skincare products will likely grow at about 6 to 7 percent in 2014 and 2015, given continued robust spending on these products from mainland Chinese visitors to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is an important entrepot for regional trading of cosmetic products, especially for re-exports to China and some Southeast Asian countries. Many U.S. companies sell their cosmetics and skincare products to China through their Hong Kong distributors.

Importantly, Hong Kong is also a major launch pad for marketing cosmetics and skincare products to the mainland Chinese market. Hong Kong serves as a showcase for the millions of Chinese tourists (41 million in 2013) that annually visit Hong Kong, often with shopping for personal, family or even re-sale use as a primary or sole travel objective. For local retailers and distributors of cosmetics, toiletry and skincare products, increased sales in the next few years are expected to come largely from mainland tourists. While China has reduced import duties on cosmetics and skincare products, thereby reducing the retail price differential between Hong Kong and China, mainland visitors to Hong Kong are still attracted to products in Hong Kong over China. According to industry sources, the perceived authenticity and reliability of the products in Hong Kong often outweighs price as a buying factor. Apart from import tariffs that the Chinese government imposes on cosmetics, there are also VAT and product registration costs which do not exist in Hong Kong, meaning that equivalent products may actually cost less on the Hong Kong side of the border.

There are no import duties on cosmetics, toiletry and skincare products in Hong Kong and registration is not required for cosmetic products. The market is, however, very competitive, with the top ten brands accounting for about 70 percent of the market. Appointing a local distributor and working closely with that distributor to promote the brand, and adapting products to include whitening ingredients, and modifying the packaging and product sizes to suit local tastes are important to remain competitive. U.S. cosmetic and toiletry suppliers are, however, known for being innovative in product development, and for producing high quality, safe products at competitive prices. Many U.S. brands are market leaders through continuous brand-building activities and advertisements, adaptation of products and competitive pricing.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

Products with the best sales prospects in Hong Kong are:

  • Complete line of facial whitening and anti-aging products especially those containing Vitamin C
  • “Dermo-skincare products” for retail distribution
  • Hair coloring products
  • Fake eyelashes and eyelash extension products
  • Nail colors, nail-care products, soft gel nails gels, and nail-art
  • Body treatments, slimming treatments, massage and bath products for use in spas and professional skincare salons
  • Sun protection products
  • Skincare, cosmetic and toiletry products made of organically-grown and naturally derived ingredients, also hypo-allergenic, with low concentrations of fragrance and preservatives
  • Skincare products for men
  • Products for treating acne
  • Private labeling / OEM of skincare products and cosmetics for the leading chain stores


Several international cosmetics brands choose Hong Kong as their first overseas market or to launch new products in Asia citing its open regulatory environment as the attraction. Hong Kong accepts U.S. product labeling and there is no local mandatory labeling or registration requirements on cosmetics.

Demand from tourists accounts for about 30 percent of Hong Kong’s total retail sales of cosmetics, skincare and toiletry products. According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, about 75 percent of the mainland tourists who visited Hong Kong shop and cosmetic and skincare products were among their top three shopping purchases. The number of mainland tourists in Hong Kong is expected to grow to 70 million by 2016. The moderate drop in the value of the U.S. dollar against the renminbi in the past six years has also made Hong Kong an even more attractive shopping destination for U.S.-made skincare products and cosmetics as the Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar. U.S. cosmetic products also enjoy an excellent reputation among the Chinese consumers.

Many of the mega and luxury casino resorts in Macau that have opened in the past few years feature facilities such as spas and skincare treatment centers for the casino and MICE visitors. Macau received 29 million visitors in 2013 of which 64 percent or about 18 million were from China. Chinese visitors to Macau purchase skincare products and cosmetics in the major casino resorts’ shopping malls.

Web Resources

Major trade show: Cosmoprof Asia 2014

This is Asia's largest, most comprehensive and international beauty industry trade show featuring equipment, products (skin care, cosmetics, personal care products, nail products, perfumes and toiletries, cosmetic raw materials) packaging, and training services in the beauty industry: hairdressing, spas, beauty and skincare salons. Under the U.S. Department of Commerce’s trade fair certification program, U.S. exhibitors at this show receive free market research and can enjoy buyers’ matching and counseling services of 15 U.S. Commercial Service offices in the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

The Cosmetic & Perfumery Association of Hong Kong Ltd.

A listing of the Association’s members comprising contact details of importers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers is available at this website.

Hong Kong Cosmetic Technical Resources Centre

Provides consultancy on regulatory requirements and assistance with product registrations in Hong Kong and China, technical support on product development, product testing and quality control services, provides customized technical training for cosmetic practitioners, and assistance in setting up laboratories.

U.S. Commercial Service Hong Kong

For more information, contact our colleague who covers this industry sector:

Contact: Ms. Swee-keng Cheong, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2521-5233
Fax: (852) 2845-9800
Email: sweekeng.cheong@trade.gov
Website: http://export.gov/hongkong

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