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Cosmetics regulations in Australia unpacked – 2024 update

by | Mar 29, 2023 | Business, Featured, Labelling, Therapeutic Claims | 42 comments

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.

Registrations

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. 

Jen

Last updated 11 January 2024

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42 Comments

  1. Samin Zare

    Hi ,

    Im interested in getting into the beauty industry and hopefully opening my own business, however, I’m unsure of what licenses or certification i may need , if any . I have done extensive research but the information provided online is not helpful or one website says one thing and another says another .

    I would really appreciate your guidance .

    Thank you,
    Samin

    Reply
    • Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

      Hi Samin, thanks for your comment. I have mentioned in the article which licences and registrations may be applicable. You don’t need any certifications as such but it is advisable to complete some kind of training to ensure you know how to formulate safe and effective products. I recommend joining my Natural Skincare Makers Australia group as you’ll find loads more useful information in there 🙂
      Jen

      Reply
  2. Anastasia Star

    Hi, im anna from Indonesia. I want to send my skin care products to Australia. What steps i need to do? Thanks

    Reply
    • Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

      Hi Anna, as an importer you will need to register with AICIS and ensure that any ingredients are included on the Inventory – you can check out the AICIS website for more information. You’ll also need to ensure your labelling is compliant with Australian regulations – this is something I can assist with in a Label Review.

      Reply
  3. Brian

    Hi Jennifer,

    So cosmetics do not have be registered in Australia? Do manufacturers of cosmetics have to register with the AICIS?

    Reply
  4. Deepika Shivakumar

    hat about organic.natural substance product which has no chemicals

    Reply
    • Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

      The same regulations apply to all cosmetic products. Also, it is important to remember that many ingredients even for organic and natural products are chemicals – e.g. water is a chemical, and many natural ingredients in skincare are still classified by AICIS as “industrial chemicals”.

      Reply
  5. Pavpali

    My family has established cosmetic business in India and I would like to sell those products here in Australia, where do I start? How much would I need to invest to get started with just one product?

    Reply
    • Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

      Hi Pavpali, thanks for your comment. I am actually in the middle of writing a blog post on importing at the moment, so stay tuned for that 🙂
      Kind regards
      Jen

      Reply
  6. Elena

    Hello,
    I want to start body scrub line from home. I’m planning to use only natural and organic products. I’m not sure what kind of license I need.
    Thank you 🙂

    Reply
    • Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

      Hi Elena, if you have a read of this article you’ll find the answer in there as well as lots of other useful information to help you get started 🙂
      Jen

      Reply
  7. Karen Thomas

    I am wanting to establish a professional skincare range for my skin clinic. Would you recommend one of the recognised diploma in cosmetic science courses ie through Aust academy of dermal science.

    Reply
    • Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

      Hi Karen, I can highly recommend doing a course through the Institute of Personal Care Science. Belinda Carli is very knowledgeable and her courses are very detailed. If you join the Natural Skincare Makers Australia group and search ‘course’ you’ll see a few different providers mentioned 🙂

      Reply
  8. Dev

    Hi, what things do I need to take care if I am planning to resell foreign beauty and skin care brands? Thanks

    Reply
  9. Jasmine

    Hi! thank you very much for this article it was very helpful. this might be a bit off topic, however, im planning to launch an online bath bomb BUSINESS, and was WONDERING if liability insurance is something i should consider? Cheers 🙂

    Reply
  10. Joanne

    Hi. I am wanting to make and sell natural plant based skin products like lip balms and Deodorants and ointments at markets. I have market stall public liability insurance. Can I sell with out registering as a business.

    Reply
  11. Gia Costa

    Hi Jen, I am in the process of negotiations with a nail product brand from the USA to secure distribution of the product within Australia. From research I understand that I need to open my business with Asic and register my business as an importer with the aicis and obtain my ABN number for importing. Most of the cas numbers for the products are already on the Aicis database which does make life easier, however I am not sure if i need to register each of the product categories with a body in australia. I also wanted to find out if you might be able to assist with understand if the labelling of the products meet the australian requirements? The products are FDA approved from what i gather. Above all of this is there something else that I am missing?

    Reply
  12. kellie

    Hi Jennifer,

    Can you please tell me if hotel soaps are required to be wrapped in australia?
    Also, if they are not required to be wrapped in guest rooms, what, if any, information is required near the soap for guests?

    Reply
    • Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

      Hi Kellie, thanks for the question. There aren’t any regulations that specifically relate to cosmetics provided in hotels – the standard cosmetics regulations apply. Are you asking from the perspective of a hotel guest or a brand wanting to sell your products to hotels? Jen

      Reply
  13. Eva

    Great article! if i want to import skincare form japan into oz, not therapeutic and no sunscreen plus the ingredients are on the register Do i need to register with aicis? I have searched the aicis register of sellers that sell the same items and they are not on there, so i am presuming that the ingredeints are not considered chemicals.

    Reply
    • Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

      Hi Eva, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Most cosmetic ingredients are classified as ‘industrial chemicals’ so it is likely that they aren’t registered when they actually should be. AICIS has fined businesses that aren’t registered (a company last year was fined $13k). Happy to chat more in a 30min Consulting Session if you want to learn more about AICIS obligations, or I cover them in my Compliance Confidence course too! Jen

      Reply
  14. KYLIE

    Hi JEN,
    Thank you for all of this information.
    Im in the process of creating a cosmeceutical skincare range and I’m looking into the licenses I will need to sell in Australia only. ARE YOU ABLE TO POINT ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?
    THE HELP WOULD BE REALLY APPRECIATED.
    Thanks.

    Reply
  15. noel

    Dear Jen,

    Nice INSIGHTS FOR STARTERS LIKE US.
    i AM IN THE PROCESS OF STEPPING INTO SKINCARE BUSINESS, AND MY INTENDED MANUFACTURER SAID i DO NOT NEED ANY CERTIFICATION OR REGISTRATION NEEDS FOR MY SPECIFIC formualted PRODUCTS. the manufacturer owned the formula so it is their intellectual property (IP). I was wondering whether the manufacturer needs any approval or certification or registration of that formula with asic or similar body? Is it advisable to get a public liability insurance even if the manufacturer is a certified or approved producer of my skkincare produts?

    Reply
    • Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

      Hi Noel, please see the ‘Registrations’ section of the article which covers any registrations required. You can read more about insurance in this blog post – an insurance broker can provide advice based on your situation, but regardless of who is manufacturing the product it’s advisable for brands to have separate insurance cover.
      I hope that helps – you’ll learn more about the regulations in the Cosmetics Regulations 101 mini-course.
      Jen

      Reply
    • riza

      Hi jen! great information you got here! i was just wondering if i need to do any registration or anything else if i am only re-branding soaps and bath bombs? this soap and bath bomb manufacturing company in queensland is selling them to people like me who will just buy them and put my own brand name. i cannot find any information about this online. as far as i understood, i will just copy the ingredients and weight of each product they supply to me and register them under my business name.

      Reply
      • Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

        Hello, it sounds like you will be selling a white label product – you wouldn’t need to register with AICIS as you’re not manufacturing or importing them. However as a brand owner you’ll still need to comply with all the regulations in the article around claims, labels (more than just ingredients + weight) and selling the products. My Cosmetics Regulations 101 mini-course is a good place to start with understanding cosmetics regulations. Jen

        Reply
  16. taHIRA

    Hi there,

    I am wanting to start out with trying to sell homegrown and homemade aloe vera gel and oil using locally sourced products from within australia.

    I understand that aloe vera is a natural product, and I shouldn’t need to take out a Manufacturing licence or any importation/chemical manufacturing registrations. Does this mean I need only contact Local council and list it on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods list?

    I’m only looking to sell as a hobbyist

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

      Hello Tahira – you would need to look at how you extract it and whether it fits under the AICIS definition of naturally occurring chemicals. You would only register on the ARTG if you wanted to make therapeutic claims but that’s not possible for home manufacturing as it needs to be done at a TGA approved manufacturing facility (that meets GMP). Even if you’re looking to sell as a hobbyist, all the other regulations still apply, e.g. around making sure products are safe, labels are compliant, etc. Hope that helps! Jen

      Reply
  17. Courtenay

    Hey Jen, I just wanted to say thank you very much for this article – it’s really informative 🙂

    Reply
  18. Youy

    Hi jennifer,

    I am starting the process of bringing in a skin care product manufactured in a lower-cost country under my own name. I am starting this as a sort of serious hobby, Are there any tips or guidlines/ advice you could give me regarding this process?I am looking to a mentor to help me in this field.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  19. Renee Sutcliffe

    Hi Jen, mY QUESTION IS AROUND SHELF LIFE. AS A SALON OWNER I BROUGHT IN MEDICAL GRADE RETAIL PRODUCTS. SHIPPED TO ME A YEAR AGO. HOWEVER JUST CHECKING NOW(AS MY SALON MANAGER WAS LOOKING AFTER THIS) A FEW PRODUCTS HAVE EXPIRED. MEANING I DIDNT GET 12 MONTHS SELF LIFE FROM DATE OF SHIPMENT FROM THE SUPPLIER. IS THERE ANY LAWS AROUDN THIS?

    Reply

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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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