What is natural skincare? TGA guidance on ‘natural’ claims

by | Aug 4, 2019 | Compliance/Legislation, Marketing Claims, Therapeutic Claims | 0 comments

In June 2019, the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) published guidance on using the term ‘natural’ in advertising therapeutic goods. Keep reading to find out what the guidance says and what it means for you.

Why has the TGA published this guidance?

They have stated this is for two reasons:

  1. So consumers are not misled
  2. So businesses know what they can say when advertising products.

The term ‘natural’ is widely used, but doesn’t have a common legislatively-defined meaning in Australia. Which means it’s often used loosely, and sometimes even incorrectly.

The TGA wants to crack down on this, which is well overdue!

What does the guidance say?

To use a ‘natural’ claim in an advertisement (including labels and social media), the guidance states that a business must ensure their product’s ingredients meet the following three conditions.

The natural raw material of the product must:

  1. Be produced from a raw material found in nature, such as a plant,
  2. Undergo minimal processing, such as grinding or fractionation, AND
  3. Stay chemically the same after processing.

OR the advertisement has to tell consumers what it means when it uses ‘natural’ to describe a product.

This means businesses have 2 options:

  1. Use the term ‘natural’ as per the above definition, OR
  2. Explain what is meant by the term ‘natural’ (in the advertisement and on the label if used there).

This includes the use of similar language to ‘natural’, such as ‘naturally derived’, ‘naturally occurring’ and ‘sourced from nature’, which must also be defined in advertising.

If a product contains ingredients that aren’t natural, the term ‘natural’ must be qualified so consumers don’t think that all the ingredients are natural, e.g. by specifying the natural or non-natural ingredients.

Advertisers also can’t mislead consumers by correlating ‘natural’ claims with other qualities such as safety or efficacy, e.g. stating “nature knows best”.

The Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code and other requirements also apply, e.g. businesses must hold evidence that supports any claims made about the product in advertising.

What does it mean for skincare brands?

You might be wondering why this is relevant to you when you don’t make therapeutic goods.

Although cosmetics aren’t regulated by the TGA, and therefore you don’t have to comply with this guidance, I consider their definition of ‘natural’ to be a good one to follow for a few reasons:

  1. The definition is aligned with international standards for use of the word ‘natural’.
  2. Under the Australian Consumer Law, businesses can’t mislead consumers, which includes use of the word ‘natural’.
  3. I know that at least one large cosmetics retailer goes by this definition when doing compliance reviews of potential products to stock.

So I recommend that before you make any ‘natural’ claims about a product, check whether its ingredients meet the TGA’s three conditions.

Who knows – maybe the ACCC or NICNAS will introduce similar requirements for advertising natural cosmetic products one day?!

You should also check that you are able to substantiate any ‘natural’ claims you make.

What will happen if ‘natural’ is incorrectly used?

Using the term ‘natural’ incorrectly or without proper definition for therapeutic goods would be a breach of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code, and people can report non-compliant advertising via the TGA website.

The TGA will use the definition in this guidance when assessing advertising compliance for therapeutic goods.

For cosmetic products, people can report false and misleading claims to the ACCC.

Where can you find more information?

You can find the full guidance on the TGA website, including examples of compliant and non-compliant advertising claims.

If you think it’s confusing, keep in mind this is the simpler version, after feedback from the public consultation on the proposed guidance was that it was too complex!

If you’re still bamboozled and need a hand working out what claims you can make, I can help by looking at what you want to say about your products (e.g. that it’s ‘natural’ or ‘naturally derived’), as well as documentation for the product and its ingredients, to determine whether you can use the claim on the label and/or in promotional material – this can be done through my compliance consulting service.

OR join my self-paced Compliance Confidence course, so you can learn how to make compliant claims!

You’ll be more confident and less stressed knowing that your advertising is compliant. Which is important as it’s such a visible part of your business.


You may also like..


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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.


Want to be the first to know?

Download a freebie and you’ll be added to the VIP list for future news, updates and VIP-only offers.


Why ‘Clear Beauty’ is the next big thing

Why ‘Clear Beauty’ is the next big thing

Move over Clean Beauty - a new era of Clear Beauty is here! In this industry, where innovation plays a key role and brands are always trying to stand out amongst their competitors, it’s crucial we think about about not just what we're creating but how we're...

Cosmetic versus therapeutic claims: what’s the difference?

Cosmetic versus therapeutic claims: what’s the difference?

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...

Cosmetics regulations in Australia unpacked – 2024 update

Cosmetics regulations in Australia unpacked – 2024 update

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...

Importing cosmetics into Australia (+ CHECKLIST)

Importing cosmetics into Australia (+ CHECKLIST)

I often work with cosmetic brand owners and distributors worldwide who want to import cosmetic products, primarily skincare and hair care products, into Australia. Here's how I can help you if you're looking to sell your cosmetics on the Australian market.  Benefits...