Cosmetics regulations in Australia
Being a compliance nerd, I love educating skincare business owners about the laws and regulations they need to comply with.
When skincare brand owners think about legislation they need to comply with, they most often think about what needs to go on their labels. Which is fair enough, as it’s the most visible part of their business.
But there are actually more than 12 important laws and regulations to comply with when running a skincare business, so while Australian skin care regulations aren’t as strict as the European Union (EU), there is still a lot to comply with.
With so much information out there about cosmetics regulations and requirements it can be confusing, so this article summarises the main things you need to know to make it easier.
Cosmetics definition in Australia
Before we get started, what are classified as cosmetics?
You can read the full definition of a cosmetic on the AICIS website, but essentially, cosmetic products have superficial / surface-level benefits related to things like appearance and smell.
What’s not classified as cosmetics?
- Therapeutic goods – e.g. products that make claims about therapeutic benefits such as treating ailments or modifying physiological functions.
- Sunscreens can also be classified as therapeutic goods depending on a few factors – read more about this in my sunscreen regulations blog post.
Why do laws and regulations exist?
Most of the requirements and regulations mentioned in this article exist for the benefit of your customers, e.g.:
- Safety – the safety of your customers is paramount. In Australia we aren’t required to do official safety assessments of our products like they are in the European Union, but under the Australian Consumer Law you still need to ensure your products are safe for consumers to use.
- Consumer rights – so your customers receive a quality product at a competitive price, and receive the quantity of product they paid for.
- Privacy – so customers’ personal information is protected.
When you’re starting out, it can be confusing to know what registrations are required by law.
Here are the main ones to know about:
- Business name – you’ll need to register a business name with ASIC
- Manufacturing licence – you don’t need a licence to manufacture cosmetics in Australia
- Chemical importer – if you import chemicals from overseas, you may need to register with AICIS
- Chemical manufacturer – if you manufacture chemicals, e.g. make soap by saponification, you need to register with AICIS
- Local council – if you’re running your business from home, visit your local council’s website to see whether any registrations are required
- Cosmetic product registration – in Australia, we don’t need to register cosmetic products like they do in the EU.
- Therapeutic goods – if you’re selling therapeutic goods, you don’t register your business with the TGA, but you’ll need to list or register your product on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods
- Insect repellent – if you make an insect repellent you’ll need to register it with the APVMA.
Key cosmetics regulations
Here are 12 important laws and regulations to be aware of when running your skincare business:
- Australian Consumer Law (Competition and Consumer Act 2010)
- Consumer Goods (Cosmetics) Information Standard 2020
- National Trade Measurement Regulations 1989
- Industrial Chemicals Act 2019
- Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP)
- Therapeutic Goods Act 1989
- Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Determination 2018
- Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)
- Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Act 1994
- Privacy Act 1998
- Spam Act 2003
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Depending on your business, you may also need to comply with other regulations, like those around tax, transporting dangerous goods, chemical labelling and employee laws.
The other regulator I want to mention is the FDA. This is the Food and Drug Administration who is a US-based regulator of food and cosmetics. You don’t need to worry about this unless you’re wanting to sell your products in the US. FDA requirements are quite similar to ours in Australia, but not identical.
How can I help?
If it still all sounds too hard, I’m here to help.
Learn more about these Australian cosmetics laws and regulations you’ll need to comply with in my Cosmetics Regulations 101 mini-course. It’s the perfect (and low-cost) first step for getting your brand compliant!
Or check out my cosmetic regulatory services if you’d prefer to work 1:1 with me to get compliant quickly.
I hope this has been helpful and I look forward to hopefully working with you in the future.
Last updated 10 January 2023