12 cosmetics regulations in Australia unpacked (+ FREE GUIDE) 

 January 30, 2020

By  Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

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 be aware of:
* 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. If you’re wanting to sell in the EU, contact Sophie from Cosmetic Label Review Services for advice.
* 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

To help you understand your cosmetics compliance obligations, I’ve put together a free Australian Cosmetics Regulations Unpacked guide with 12 important laws and regulations you should be aware of.

Australian Cosmetics Regulations Unpacked includes an overview of what the regulation is, who regulates it, why it exists, why it’s relevant to you and how can Skincare Business Foundations can help.

Download the free guide:

Australian Cosmetics Regulations Unpacked

Sign up to receive the guide straight to your inbox, plus emails every 3-4 weeks packed with skincare business tips and cosmetic regulation updates (you can unsubscribe at any time). 

It covers not only cosmetic regulations but also other regulations and standards you may need to comply with 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 with my affordable range of guides and services.

If you like to DIY, I have guides like Can I Say That? Demystifying cosmetic versus therapeutic claims and Cosmetics Labelling Essentials that will give you all the information you need to know about how to make compliant cosmetic claims and compliant labels.

If you want a helping hand, I offer services like Label Reviews, Marketing Claims Reviews, and even the Peace of Mind Package which combines my most popular guides and services at a special price to give you peace of mind you’ve got all your bases covered. Or we can talk about anything you want in a 1:1 Consulting Session.

If you're unsure which guide or service would be best for you, feel free to contact me and we'll work it out together.

I hope this has been helpful and I look forward to hopefully working with you in the future. 

Jen x

Last updated 15 January 2021


About the Author

Hi, I'm Jennifer - cosmetic regulatory consultant for Australian skincare brands. After running my own skincare business, and having a 10-year+ corporate background in risk management, auditing and compliance, I decided to combine my business know-how and industry knowledge to help others build a solid business foundation.
Since 2018, I've been supporting skincare brand owners with friendly expert advice and time-saving regulatory guides. And my signature course on how to start a skincare brand in Australia.

Jennifer - Skincare Business Foundations

  • 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,

    • 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 🙂

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

  • Hi Jennifer,

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

    • 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”.

  • 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?

  • 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 🙂

  • 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.

    • 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 🙂

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