Cosmetic versus therapeutic claims: what’s the difference?

by | Jun 12, 2023 | Featured, Marketing Claims, Therapeutic Claims | 2 comments

I know from personal experience that marketing claims are one of the most confusing parts of running a skincare business, apart from labelling.

Working out what you’re legally allowed to say can be tricky to navigate – particularly when it comes to cosmetic versus therapeutic claims.

As a cosmetics brand, you need to stick to making compliant cosmetic claims – and avoid making therapeutic claims unless you want to go down the route of having your products approved by the TGA.

Cosmetic products have superficial / surface-level benefits related to things like appearance and smell – so you need to stick to these types of claims!

Or other claims related to the definition of a cosmetic: “A substance or preparation designed to be used on any external part of the body – or inside the mouth – to change its odour or appearance, cleanse it, keep it in good condition or protect it.”

Examples of cosmetic claims are:

  • Helps slow the signs of ageing
  • Promotes elasticity
  • Visibly brightens the skin

You can’t make claims that a cosmetic product will prevent or treat a disease/ illness/ ailment/ named skin condition or affect a physiological process on the body – that would be a therapeutic claim.

Examples of therapeutic claims are:

  • Heals eczema
  • Relaxes muscles
  • Wound healing

If a consumer thinks a cosmetic product is for therapeutic use, based on the way advertised (e.g. if the label contains therapeutic claims) the product would be considered a therapeutic good – even if the brand owner did so unintentionally!

Why comply?

  • To protect the health of your customers
  • It’s not fair to competitors who have followed the right approval processes
  • TGA could issue a warning notice or fine

I bet you’ve experienced the claims compliance wobbles – thinking “can I say that or not?!” before clicking ‘post’ on a scroll-stopping caption you’ve written about a bestselling product. Or before you hit ‘send’ on your weekly newsletter promoting your amazing new product!

I’m here to help! There’s a whole module in Compliance Confidence about how to make compliant cosmetic claims.

Plus a Cosmetic vs Therapeutic Claims Handbook with a Cosmetic Claims Dictionary – aka your new bible with lots of examples of what to say and what not to say!

Once you understand how to make compliant claims, you’ll be able to press ‘post’ or ‘send’ confidently.

Join Compliance Confidence today and market your brand without the compliance wobbles!


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  1. Bloom

    Hello Jen,

    Thank you so much for sharing your article.

    I wanted to ask you if I am PURCHASING from an existing company that offers white label for their skin care products, i would like to know what are the steps I need to take to be able to sell her products. I was told to make an abn ( would it be personal care as the business, because j am not offering a service but a product) and also insurance. Is there anything else I need to do? I am new to this, and have had no prior experience.

    Thank you so much!

    • Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

      Hello, thanks for the comment! It’s not possible for me to cover all the steps in a comment, however I have a workshop on the Must-Have Building Blocks of a Wildly Successful Skincare Business where there’s an option to grab the Skincare Business Checklist too which covers the key steps!
      You’ll need to follow the same cosmetics regulations, because as the brand owner you have responsibility to be compliant around things like labels and claims, even if you have purchased white label products. My Label Launchpad course is suitable for private/white label brands, as well as Compliance Confidence if you’re just wanting to focus on regulations, and not the rest of the business side of things, like pricing, websites, etc.
      I hope that helps!


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Jennifer Rudd Skincare Business Foundations 28

Hi, I'm Jen

Founder of Skincare Business Foundations, I help skincare and beauty founders build compliant and ethical brands that last.


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