Cosmetics Labelling Guide Released by ACCC

Recently, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) released a guide on labelling requirements that apply to cosmetics products sold in Australia. This comes as a timely reminder for businesses that produce and supply cosmetics products to ensure that they comply with mandatory standards under the Trade Practices (Consumer Product Information Standards) (Cosmetics) Regulations 1991 (Cth) (the Mandatory Standards).

Application of the Mandatory Standards

The Mandatory Standards apply to cosmetics products, which are classified as any substance or preparation intended for placement in contact with any external part of the human body, including the mouth and teeth, that functions to:

  • alter the odours of the body i.e. deodorant;
  • change its appearance i.e. makeup;
  • cleanse it i.e. washes or soap-related products;
  • assist with maintaining it in good condition i.e. moisturisers;
  • perfume it i.e. fragrances and colognes; or
  • protect it i.e. fortifying creams.

The Mandatory Standards do not apply to products that are considered therapeutic goods under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth) as specific regulation applies under this legislation. Therapeutic goods are those that are intended for a ‘therapeutic use’, such as modifying a bodily process and/or to prevent, diagnose, cure, or alleviate a disease, ailment or defect. For example, a cosmetic good would cover skin blemishes whereas a therapeutic good would heal the skin blemish.

Notably, the Mandatory Standards also do not apply to free samples or testers of cosmetic products and cosmetics manufactured in Australia for export only.

What are the Mandatory Standards?

The Mandatory Standards require cosmetic products sold in Australia to have the following labelling features:

  • a prominent and clearly legible list of ingredients on either the product packaging, container or if otherwise practicable, displayed with the product in a way that consumers would be aware of the ingredients;
  • disclose all ingredients that have a technical or functional effect (other ingredients such as processing aids that are not present in significant quantity do not need to be disclosed);
  • the ingredients must be described in English or using its International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient name;
  • the ingredients must be listed in one of the following orders:
    • general descending order by mass or volume; or
    • ingredients (except colour additives) in concentrations of 1 per cent or more in descending order by mass or volume, ingredients (except colour additives) in concentrations of less than 1 per cent in any order and colour additives in any order;
  • reference to flavours must be as either “flavour/s” or “aroma/s”; and
  • reference to fragrances must be as either “fragrance/s” or “parfum/s”.

The ACCC has urged cosmetics producers and suppliers to ensure that they comply with these requirements, among others mandated by the Mandatory Requirements, and have systems in place to ensure compliance. Producers and suppliers are also reminded that cosmetics products are subject to the Australian Consumer Law, including guarantees that they are safe, of acceptable quality and fit for their disclosed purpose.

More information about labelling of cosmetics in Australia and the guide can be found at this link.

This post was co-authored by Valiant Warzecha, Jessie Buchan and Melinda Upton.