Source: CHEAA-run China Appliance magazine

Household hair removal industry still posts strong performance after hair removal products started to be regulated as medical devices since January 2023. According to the report released by Tmall, hair removal devices and other medical beauty products saw explosive growth during this year’s “618” shopping festival, becoming popular items for the younger generation.

The growing demand drives the rapid development of the hair removal industry, but some negative issues have also arisen such as improper advertising and a mix of good and substandard products on the market. Currently, 1312 complaints about hair removal products can be found on Sina’s complaint platform, compared to just over 400 complaints at the same time last year. The main complaints are related to product quality issues, as well as cases where consumers reported allergic reactions, redness, and skin damage after using the devices.

Therefore, it is necessary to regulate the development of the household hair removal device industry. The household hair removal devices are mainly divided into two categories currently: laser and intense pulsed light (IPL). Laser hair removal devices are classified as Class III medical devices. To manufacture them, enterprises need to obtain registration approvals from National Medical Products Administration. IPL hair removal products have been classified as Class II medical devices according to an announcement released by National Medical Products Administration in May 2018. The announcement clearly states that from January 1, 2023, IPL hair removal products that have not obtained medical device registration certificates in accordance with the law are not allowed to be manufactured, imported, or sold. This marks household hair removal devices into an era of strong regulation.

Half year has passed since household hair removal products fully transitioned to medical device management. According to the website of National Medical Products Administration, as of June 29, there have been a total of 89 Class II medical device registrations for IPL treatment devices issued, and 6 Class III medical device registrations for semiconductor laser hair removal devices, and 1 Class II medical device registration for photon hair removal and skin rejuvenation devices.

Despite the limited number of registered products, there are many hair removal devices available on the market. For instance, on the JD platform, a search for “IPL hair removal device + laser hair removal device” yields over 2400 products, with prices ranging from a few hundred to several thousand yuan. An industry insider believes that it might be because one product is allowed to have multiple models when registered, and as many hair removal products on the market are manufactured by the same OEM factory, they share the same registration number though labeled with different brands.

Many big brands with high sales such as Ulike, JOVS, Jmoon, beautigo and AMIRO have displayed on their product detail page that they have obtained medical device registrations. There are also others who do not display such information on their pages, but after consulting customer service, I got the registration numbers of their products. I randomly inquired customer service representatives of three products that does not show registration numbers on their pages and discovered that 2 of them had the same registration number.

It is evident that there is significant homogeneity among hair removal devices, and brands with strong production capabilities are not many, which results in numerous patent disputes within the industry. According to data from Qichacha, there have been 700 adjudicated patent dispute cases involving hair removal device companies over the past 5 years.

The strong regulation has greatly raised the market entry threshold for household hair removal devices, but challenges such as lack of innovation and product homogeneity still exist. To achieve long-term development, industry players should focus on technological innovation to improve the hair removal performance.