OVERSEAS companies make up 70 per cent of exhibitors attending the Cosmetics, Hair and Beauty fair. The second and third largest delegations at the fair, after the United States, are France and Italy - a trend which might be expected, given the history of the beauty industry as a whole. The Italian cosmetics industry will be represented in force, reflecting encouraging growth in imports and rapidly increasing interest in the product ranges among consumers. A total of 16 companies will occupy stands at the Hongkong Convention and Exhibition Centre, with displays ranging from toilet soap, skin care, make-up and fragrances, to hairdressing products and cosmetic packaging materials, and machinery. According to the Italian Trade Commissioner, Aniello Musella, the strong presence reflects the increasing importance of the Hongkong and China markets to Italian cosmetics manufacturers. ''Last year, imports of Italian cosmetics and related products to Hongkong amounted to US$5.3 million - an increase of 20 per cent,'' said Mr Musella. ''This was a healthy growth rate and one which we would expect will be bettered this year, as awareness of the unique quality of Italian products begins to grow. ''We are keen to see Italy benefit fully from this key import sector.'' Mr Musella said that Italy was synonymous with high fashion and luxury designer labels, and was focusing on generating awareness that this quality extended to all areas of fashion and beauty, including cosmetics and other accessories. ''Italy is also internationally known for its sophisticated cosmetic packaging machinery which produces high quality spray pumps, dispensers and containers for perfumes, make-up and skin-care products,'' Mr Musella said. He said the key to import growth would be tapping into China's rapidly expanding consumer market. ''With personal incomes reported to be growing by at least 14 per cent per annum, and with an expected 20 per cent increase in retails sales in 1993, China is clearly a market of enormous potential,'' he said. ''Participation in the Hongkong exhibitions is the first step towards extending the industry's presence on the mainland.'' The international heart of the beauty industry, France, will be looking to expand its presence in Asia with its attendance at the fair when 18 companies will exhibit products as diverse as make-up, to raw materials, to anti-mosquito preparations. Hongkong is France's 11th biggest client and represents 1.96 per cent of France's total exports of perfumes and cosmetics. French exports of perfumes and cosmetics for last year amounted to 477 million francs - about $667 million. And Hongkong's own taste of French beauty, Frederique, The Original French Beauty School and Salon, has lined up activities to complement a display of beauty products and literature. Highlights of the programme will be two talks which Frederique Deleage will give, the first at 2.30 pm on Sunday in Room 603, Level 6 of the convention centre. The topic will be glycolic acid exfoliation. which has taken the United States by storm and another talk will be on the role of oxygen and Vitamin A in anti-ageing, anti-pigmentation and anti-acne skin care.