Let’s talk cosmetic labelling myths – you know, the information that’s passed around online like an urban legend, and isn't based on fact.
There’s so much misinformation out there, which is why I encourage people in the Natural Skincare Makers Australia group to give information or advice only if you know it's 100% true.
Read about the most common myths below:
MYTH #1: It doesn’t matter which measurement marking you use
FACT: Australia’s national trade measurement laws are actually quite strict about which abbreviations you can use to indicate the weight/volume of your products. Even down to which letters may be capitalised. For example, you’re not allowed to use anything other than a lowercase ‘g’ for grams, and you can’t use ‘g’ for liquids. This is one of THE MOST COMMON labelling mistakes I see (if you haven’t done so already, check out this video I made about it).
MYTH #2: By saying ‘may assist’ on the label it’s not a therapeutic claim
FACT: This is totally untrue. It’s about the content and intent of the claim, regardless of whether you say ‘may assist’ or not. If you’re not sure of the difference between cosmetic and therapeutic claims, check out my Can I Say That? Demystifying cosmetic versus therapeutic claims guide.
MYTH #3: No one will care if my label is non-compliant, my business is only small
FACT: There have been reports of regulators attending markets and giving out warning notices about non-compliant labels to stallholders. But the most important reason to have compliant labels is because labelling laws exist to protect the safety of your customers. The last thing you want is for a customer to have a reaction to your product because it’s labelled incorrectly.
MYTH #4: You can use any type of address on a label (or you don’t need one at all)
FACT: You must include a physical address where documents can be served if required – you can’t use only a website URL or PO Box address. If you don’t want to use your home address, you may be able to ask your accountant or lawyer if you can use their address for your registered business address.
MYTH #5: You only need to comply with the ACCC cosmetics labelling standard
FACT: Actually, there are at least six different laws and regulations to consider when creating your labels, including the Australian Consumer Law, national trade measurement laws and Poisons Standard. If you want to get a handy list of everything you need to include on a label, plus an example of a compliant label, check out my Cosmetic Labelling Essentials guide.
MYTH #6: You can say ingredients are ‘traditionally used’ for a therapeutic benefit
FACT: No you can’t – it is illegal to state that an ingredient in a cosmetic product can be used for any kind of therapeutic use, as this is classified as a therapeutic claim. You can’t advertise/promote any therapeutic claims (e.g on your label or website) for a product that is not listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. Still confused about the difference between cosmetic and therapeutic claims? Check out my guide to making compliant cosmetic claims here.
MYTH #7: Another company is doing it so it’s OK for me to do it
FACT: You can’t always trust that other brands are compliant, e.g. there are so many brands out there that illegally advertise eczema creams. They may either not know what the regulations are or they know but choose not to comply with them to gain an unfair marketing advantage. Focus on what you need to do to make sure you’re compliant. You can also choose to report any non-compliant brands to a regulator (e.g. the TGA for illegal therapeutic claims) because it’s unfair to brands who are doing the right thing.
Remember – don’t believe everything you read online. Do your own research or consult an expert (like me) to find out the truth.
If you’ve learnt at least one thing from busting these myths, you’ll probably learn even more from my compliance guides. I created them to give you the whole truth (and nothing but the truth), so you can create labels stress-free.