Local Time: Print

Cosmetics and Toiletries (COS)


Unit: USD thousands





2020 (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$3.4 billion market in 2018. Korea, Japan, the U.S., and China were the other major suppliers. Hong Kong imported US$768 million worth of cosmetics, toiletry and skincare products from the U.S. in 2018, a 42% increase compared to 2017. The higher demand for U.S. cosmetics is probably a result of consumers who have previously used cosmetics from Korea increasingly switching to higher-end products with better quality and efficacy and products from the U.S. meet these buying criteria. Hong Kong’s imports of cosmetics, toiletry and skincare products will likely grow at about 25-28 percent in 2019 and 2020 with domestic demand from Hong Kong consumers and Chinese tourists remaining strong.

Importantly, Hong Kong is also a major launch pad for marketing cosmetics and skincare products in the mainland Chinese market. Hong Kong serves as a showcase for the millions of Chinese tourists (51million in 2018) that visit Hong Kong annually, often with shopping for personal, family or even re-sale use as a primary or sole travel objective. 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. Greater numbers of Chinese tourists in Hong Kong are expected in the next two years following the opening of new cross-border transport links such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and Guanghzou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link making it easier for Chinese in the Southern provinces to travel to Hong Kong for day-trip shopping sprees. For local retailers and distributors of cosmetics, toiletry and skincare products, increased sales in the cosmetics sector in the next few years will continue to be dependent on sales to mainland Chinese tourists.

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.

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.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

Products with the best sales prospects in Hong Kong are:

  • Complete lines of facial whitening and anti-aging products
  • “Dermo-skincare products” for retail distribution and distribution to doctors
  • Daily-use facial masks
  • Hair coloring products
  • Fake eyelashes, eyelash extension products, and semi-permanent eyebrow make-up
  • Nail colors, nail-care products, soft 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, hair styling products, and grooming 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 for launching 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.

For some local retailers, demand from Chinese tourists account for about 60-70 percent of their Hong Kong’s total retail sales of cosmetics, skincare and toiletry products. According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, about 80 percent of the mainland tourists who visited Hong Kong shop and cosmetic and skincare products were among their top three shopping purchases. U.S. cosmetic products 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 35.8 million visitors in 2018 of which 70 percent or 25 million were from China. Chinese visitors to Macau purchase skincare products and cosmetics in the major casino resorts’ shopping malls.

Web Resources

Major Trade Shows:

Cosmoprof Asia 2019

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 close to 10 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.

For more information about this industry sector, please contact U.S. Commercial Service:

Ms. Swee-keng CHEONG, Commercial Specialist
Tel: (852) 2521-5233
Fax: (852) 2845-9800
Email: sweekeng.cheong@trade.gov

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