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Safe Cosmetics Australia

The Toxic-Free Campaign

Understanding Cosmetic Regulations

The manufacture & sale of cosmetic products is regulated by government bodies around the world. Each with their specific regulatory systems, governments share the common goal of ensuring that chemicals & cosmetic products are used in accordance with health & safety laws.

In Australia, cosmetic ingredients are classified as industrial chemicals. The terms ingredients & chemicals is used interchangeably throughout every cosmetic business, the media & government agencies. It is important to understand that all ingredients are chemicals & vice versa.

Where to start & what you need to know

Once you've decided to make a product & start selling in Australia, it's important to do your research to understand cosmetic regulations. Although you do not need to register with a government agency or carry out safety assessments on the efficacy of your product, compliance is still important. To get started, understanding how chemicals are regulated in Australia & how mandatory product labelling works is essential. All chemicals must be registered with NICNAS
There is no license required to start manufacturing cosmetics & many other products. However, if your product has a medicinal use or claims that the product can cure or change the skin in a particular way then you may need to register with the TGA Therapeutic Goods Administration. GMP essentials include manufacturing your products in a suitable facility with equipment that is sanitised. Other important factors to consider is air & water quality, temperature control & storage requirements or ventilation depending on the chemicals used.
There are not pre-market assessments for manufacturing & selling your products in Australia. Although recommended, there are no pre-market safety assessments required. You must however back up any product claim & market your products with the correct product labelling terms. The health & beauty industry is largely self-regulated, independent organisations like SCA, provide a higher standard of manufacturing that brands & consumers recognise. Australia does not have its own pharmacopoeia, the TGA recommends that brands use Britan's pharmacopoeia.


Australia's definition of a cosmetic product is distinct from medicinal products. Manufacturers must check that their cosmetic product is compliant. Cosmetic products are defined by the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 & Trade Practices (Consumer Product Information Standards) (Cosmetics) Regulations 1991. A cosmetic product is a substance or preparation that is intended for use on any external part of the human body including mucous membranes of the oral cavity & teeth that potentially alters body odours or changes it's appearance; used for cleansing the body, maintaining the body, perfuming or protecting the body.


If your product is manufactured for therapeutic use then you will need to make an application to register with the TGA in accordance with the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989. A therapeutic use is defined by the products intended use, if the product is intended to prevent, diagnose, cure or alleviate a disease, ailment, defect or injury in persons; or if the product is influencing, inhibiting or modifying a physiological process in persons; or the product may be testing the susceptibility of persons to a disease or ailment or influencing, controlling or preventing conception in persons; or testing for pregnancy in persons; or the replacement or modification of parts of the anatomy in persons. Also see: Scheduling of Medicines & Poisons & The Australian Register of Therapeutic goods (ARTG)


First, check that the chemicals you intend to use are registered with NICNAS, the administraitors of the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (AICS). NICNAS assesses the health & safety of chemicals. They assess the potential risks associated with importing chemicals & also manufacturing industrial chemicals including cosmetics & all other products such as fuel, glues, adhesives, inks, dyes, house paint, cleaning agents & more. ASIC has secondary notifications & conditions. The National Occupational Health & Safety Commission NOHSC has approved criteria for classifying hazardous chemicals; see Information Safety Sheets & Safe Work Australia to search for concentration cut offs concerning restricted chemicals in Australia.



If you intend to import any *new industrial chemicals into Australia or New Zealand, you'll need to register with NICNAS. You'll also need to register with NICNAS if importing any base cosmetic products or finished cosmetic products &/or manufacturing of *new chemicals. An example is making soap through saponification. When using Australian manufacturers that are supplying all of the ingredients to manufacture your product(s), you won't be required to register with NICNAS. Secondary notifications may apply.


To find laboraties that provide stability testing & efficacy, see OBB's Industry directory for recommended labs. Select the manufacturers category to display a comprehensive range of services, as well as highly experienced & qualified scientists to perform chemical & microbiological testing. For more advice on cosmetic formulation & product stability testing, select the suppliers option to connect with companies that provide recommended wholesale cosmetic packaging, ingredients & manufacturing inlcuding product testing.


The labelling of cosmetics & Toiletries is subject to mandatory standards. Any substance intended for use in contact with any external part of the body. ACCC website is designed to give consumers, businesses & other interested parties a single entry point to information that helps to minimise risks associated with unsafe products. ACCC cover information about general consumer products. You will also find links to other agencies responsible for the safety of specific products, such as gas & electrical appliances, food or therapeutic goods.


Australia & New Zealand


  • OFC - Organic Food Chain - Offer organic certification for producers of grain, cattle, sheep & other industries, food or skincare, distributors & wholesalers. The OFC is committed to fast friendly service while upholding the National Organic Standard of Australia and other international organic certification standards.

  • ACO - Australian Certified Organic - the industry’s leading organic certifier, ensuring integrity, impartiality and authenticity in trade, delivering best value for service for certified clients whilst protecting the rights and interests of consumers of organic products.

  • NASAA Certified Organic - Formed in 1986, The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA) is the nation's leading organic certifier – focused on providing quality, cost efficient organic certification services. With operations both in Australia and Overseas, the company provides certification and inspection services, which assist in facilitating market access throughout the world for NASAA certified organic product.

  • AUS-QUAL, Certified Organic Product - is a wholly owned subsidiary of AUS-MEAT Limited, the Australian Meat Industry Standards and Quality System Management Company. AUS-QUAL is a certification body accredited by JAS-ANZ, providing conformity assessment services for quality management and food safety (HACCP) management systems, as well as Product Certication Systems for the wider Australian and New Zealand agricultural, horticultural and secondary processing sectors.

  • Bio-Dynamic Research Institute - Demeter Bio-Dynamic BDRI - The Australian Demeter Bio-Dynamic Method is a world leader in the ecological and sustainable production of our food and natural fibers. Quality Produce is grown using Biological-Dynamic agricultural methods founded on a holistic perception of Nature.

  • Safe Food Queensland - SFPQ - Despite the fact that food safety is considered a basic right in Australia, each year literally millions of cases of food-related illnesses are reported. Food safety can be compromised at any point in the production process, SFPQ works in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry (DAFF) and Queensland Health (QH) across the entire food chain, to ensure Queensland’s food supply is safe.

  • Tasmanian Organic-Dynamic Producers - Mission statement: We recognise ourselves as caretakers of the land, with a holistic approach to life and its forces. We encourage harmony, diversity and balance by working towards self sustaining practices. Top business objectives: to educate growers and consumers on quality organic produce; to stimulate demand and supply of certified organic produce; to safeguard sustainable management practices. Key functions are: certification; annual farm assessments and review of standards.

  • Bio-Grow New Zealand - Certified Organic - BioGro New Zealand and its registered trademark are owned by The New Zealand Biological Producers and Consumers Society (NZBPCS). NZBPCS is a not for profit, incorporated society and registered charity - an industry and consumer organisation supported by its members and directed by a board of councillors.

  • JAS-ANZ is the government-appointed accreditation body for Australia and New Zealand responsible for providing accreditation of conformity assessment bodies (CABs) in the fields of certification and inspection. Accreditation by JAS-ANZ demonstrates the competence and independence of these CABs.

  • Safe Work Australia is an Australian Government statutory agency, with the primary responsibility of improving work health & safety, as well as workers compensation arrangements. Their mission is to reduce death, injury & disease in the work place.

  • NTN - National Toxics Network is a community based network working to ensure a toxic-free future for all. NTN was formed in 1993 and has grown as a national network giving a voice to community and environmental organisations across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. NTN supports communities involved in hazardous waste management, pesticides and environmental health issues.

  • National Pollutant Inventory [NPI] provides the community, industry and government with free information about substance emissions in Australia. It has emission estimates for 93 toxic substances and the source and location of these emissions.

International Resources

European Union

  • The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is the driving force among regulatory authorities in implementing the EU's groundbreaking chemicals legislation for the benefit of human health and the environment as well as for innovation and competitiveness. ECHA helps companies to comply with the legislation, advances the safe use of chemicals, provides information on chemicals and addresses chemicals of concern.

  • ECOCERT, Certified Natural & Organic - Ecocert is an inspection and certification body established in France in 1991 by agronomists aware of the need to develop environmentally friendly agriculture and of the importance of offering some form of recognition to those committed to this method of production. Recognised both in France and elsewhere, these standards are used to conduct inspections on the basis of technical criteria: natural & organic cosmetics, cleaning products, home perfumes, paintings & coatings from natural origin, Being - organic & ecological spa, EFT - EcoCert Fair Trade products, EVE - Ecological green spaces, inputs eligible for use in organic farming & environmentally friendly production of aquatic plants & processing (Spriulina food supplements).

  • COSMEBIO, Certified Natural & Organic - Cosmebio is the Professional Association for Natural, Ecological and Organic cosmetics.COSMEBIO federates the professional players in the industry and brings together over 390 members in France and abroad. Since 2002, COSMEBIO has been working to promote natural and ecological cosmetics made with ingredients from organic farming and developed using green technologies (green chemistry).

  • Bioagricert, Certified Organic is a Control and Certification Body born in 1984. In 1993 it was recognized by the Ministry of Agricultural Politics as Authorized National Body for the Control and Certification of Organic Productions (on the basis of Reg. EEC 2092/91‐ now Reg. 834/2007) and on 29 July 2002 the Ministry of Agricultural Politics confirmed the Authorization. Bioagricert is enrolled in the list of authorized certification Bodies according to Reg. EC 834/2007 published by the European Union. With about 10.000 operators certified worldwide and more than 25 years of experience, Bioagricert is able to offer its services to any kind of operator in order to qualify products and processes.

  • SOIL ASSOCIATION Scotland & UK - worldwide service, certified organic. The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by a group of farmers, scientists and nutritionists who observed a direct connection between farming practice and plant, animal, human and environmental health. Today, the soil association are the UK's leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use. We have over 150 staff based in Bristol and Edinburgh and working as certification inspectors across the country. The Soil Association's Chief Executive is Helen Browning, who reports to the Council of Trustees.

USA Chemical Assessment

  • Food & Drug Administration (FDA or USFDA) is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments. The FDA is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety, tobacco products, dietary supplements, prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs (medications), vaccines, biopharmaceuticals, blood transfusions, medical devices, electromagnetic radiation emitting devices (ERED), and veterinary products: Ingredients Restricted & Prohibited by FDA Regulations

  • USDA's National Organic Program regulates the standards for any farm, wild crop harvesting, or handling operation that wants to sell an agricultural product as organically produced; organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.

  • EWG - Enviromental Working Group is the US nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization.  Their mission is to serve as a watchdog to see that Americans get straight facts, unfiltered and unspun, so they can make healthier choices and enjoy a cleaner environment. We use the power of information to create cutting-edge research and advocacy that transform government policies and the marketplace in order to conserve land and water, produce and use energy responsibly and ensure that food and consumer products are free of harmful chemicals. We investigate government subsidies that encourage wasteful practices, and we support policies that promote thoughtful stewardship of our land and natural resources. With your help -- and with the help of hundreds of organizations with whom we partner -- we are creating a healthier and cleaner environment for the next generation and beyond.