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Cosmetics—ingredients labelling

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The mandatory standard for ingredients labelling on cosmetics came into effect on 31 October 1993 and was last amended 23 May 2008. It covers labelling for cosmetics.

Under the mandatory standard, cosmetic products are substances or preparations intended for placement in contact with any external part of the body, including the mouth and teeth, for the purpose of:

  • altering the odours of the body
  • changing the appearance of the body
  • cleansing the body
  • maintaining the body in good condition
  • perfuming the body
  • protecting the body.

The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) also has a cosmetic standard that you can view on the NICNAS website.

On this page:

Exemptions

The following goods are exempt from the mandatory information standard:

  • therapeutic goods within the meaning of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989
  • cosmetics manufactured in Australia for export
  • free samples of cosmetic products
  • testers of a cosmetic product.

Hazards

Ingredient labels that are missing or inaccurate can expose consumers to ingredients that may cause allergic reactions. Such allergic reactions could be harmful to consumers with chemical sensitivities.

Mandatory standard

Requirements for this mandatory standard are prescribed in the Trade Practices (Consumer Product Information Standards) (Cosmetics) Regulations 1991.

This mandatory standard came into effect on 29 October 1991. 

Does this apply to your business?

Under the ACL supply includes:

  • in relation to goods - (including re-supply) by way of sale, exchange, lease, hire or hire-purchase and
  • in relation to services - provide, grant of confer. 

This mandatory standard applies to anyone in the business of supplying cosmetics, including:

  • manufacturers
  • importers
  • distributors
  • retailers
  • hirers.

To allow for staggered implementation, there are some cases where a mandatory standard or ban prescribes different compliance dates for the manufacturing, importing and supply of a product. Manufacturers, importers and distributors should check for this detail in the mandatory standard before embarking on production, importation or distribution of these goods.

 

Complying with the mandatory standard

For complete information about the mandatory requirements for cosmetics, we strongly advise you to read the Trade Practices (Consumer Product Information Standards) (Cosmetics) Regulations 1991.

Suppliers may also find the Regulation impact statement — Cosmetics helpful in understanding aspects of the mandatory standard.

Penalties and consequences

Suppliers can face heavy fines and product recalls if the cosmetics they supply do not follow the mandatory standard for ingredient labelling. For more details, view Penalties and consequences

Some key requirements

The following provides some key information on the labelling and testing requirements for this mandatory standard.

Safety markings

Labelling

  • Product ingredient information should be available to consumers at the point of sale.
  • The listing of product ingredients is required on the container or on the product itself, if not packed in a container.  
  • Where the container or the product is of a size, shape or nature that prevents ingredient labelling by any of the above methods, the mandatory information standard requires the display of information to allow consumers to be informed.
  • The labelling of ingredients on cosmetics such as make-up, deodorant or moisturiser usually appears on the packaging or outer casing of the product for consumer knowledge. 
  • When listing ingredients, the ingredients need to appear in descending order calculated by either mass or volume.
  • Alternatively, the mandatory standard allows for the listing of ingredients in the following way:
    • ingredients (except colour additives) in concentrations of 1 per cent or more in descending order by volume or mass
    • followed by ingredients (except for colour additives) in concentrations of less than 1 per cent in any order
    • followed by colour additives in any order.
  • The mandatory information standard does not require the listing of the quantity or percentage of each ingredient.

Testing

While the standard does not require testing, before suppliers can label cosmetics accurately, they need to establish that the volume or mass is correct.

Legal cases and undertakings

Date commenced: 30th November 2011
Lenan Corporation mislead consumers to believe that its 'Organix Ever Straight Brazilian Keratin Therapy' range of products did not contain any formaldehyde, sodium or sulphates when that was not the case.
Date commenced: 23rd August 2011
Privity, trading as Haircare Australia, misrepresented to consumers that its Brazilian Blowout hair straightening products did not contain any formaldehyde when that was not the case. Independent testing found formaldehyde levels to be 50 times greater than the safe limit.
Date commenced: 28th January 2009
Natural Green Pty Limited—24 Hour Time Release Cream with Placenta & Vitamin E failed to comply with the mandatory standard for cosmetics and toiletries—ingredients labelling.
Date commenced: 28th January 2009
Natural Beauty Enterprise Pty Ltd—Pearl Cream with Vitamin E failed to comply with the mandatory standard for cosmetics and toiletries—ingredients labelling.
Date commenced: 12th January 2009
The Reject Shop Ltd—unsafe children's toy Knights Playset failed to comply with the mandatory standard for toys containing accessible materials with a lead migration of more than 90 milligrams per kilogram. A cosmetic product that did not have ingredients listed on the product container or located at the point of sale failed to comply with the cosmetics and toiletries—ingredients labelling mandatory standard.
Date commenced: 5th November 2008
Australia The Gift Pty Ltd—a product did not comply with the mandatory standard for cosmetics and toiletries—ingredients labelling.
Date commenced: 5th November 2008
Look Direct International Pty Limited—Tattoo Gel Pens 6 Pack did not comply with the mandatory standard for cosmetics and toiletries—ingredients labelling.
Date commenced: 8th April 2009
Natural Products of Australia Pty Ltd (Natural Instinct)—some hair and skin care products may have breached sections 52, 53(a), 55 and 65D of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (the Act) in the labelling of some of its products and in brochures.

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