Reading time: 5 minutes

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates therapeutic goods and the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). Cosmetics do not need to be registered on the ARTG. However, there is often an interface between therapeutic goods and cosmetic products where someone makes a claim about the impact of the product on the human body. Products may not make therapeutic claims unless included on the ARTG. This article will explain:

  • how to know if your product is a therapeutic good or cosmetic good;
  • what cosmetic claims are; and
  • the regulation of cosmetics. 

1. Is Your Product a Therapeutic Good or Cosmetic Good? 

Therapeutic Goods

Therapeutic goods are generally defined in Australia as goods that can treat an illness or ailment or those goods that are represented in any way to be or that are likely to be taken for therapeutic use. Further, for a product to be a therapeutic good, its intention should be to:

  • modify a physiological process; or
  • treat or prevent disease. 

This article explains what therapeutic goods are.

Cosmetic Goods

Generally, cosmetic products are a substance or preparation intended for placement in contact with any external part of the human body, with a view to: 

  • alter the odours of the body; 
  • change its appearance; 
  • cleanse it; 
  • maintain it in good condition; 
  • perfume it; or
  • protect it.

Product Composition and Proposed Use

Generally, products are either cosmetics or therapeutic goods depending on the composition of the product and its proposed use in the context of marketing. The composition of the product refers to the ingredient or the concentration of a particular ingredient. Certain ingredients will make a product unsuitable as classification as a cosmetic and will require TGA approval for use. 

The analysis of the proposed use takes into consideration the method of administration of the product and the claims made: 

  • on the package; 
  • in advertisements; and 
  • on product labels. 

It is important to consider what impression is made to consumers about the intended use of the product. This means that a product may be intended for marketing as a cosmetic. However, it may still be classified as a therapeutic good and subject to the TGA if the product makes or suggests therapeutic uses on its advertising. 

2. What Are Cosmetic Claims?  

A cosmetic claim can be a word, sentence, paragraph or an implication about the use of a product that should present the product explicitly for cosmetic purposes only. However, it cannot make reference or suggest that someone can use the product for or in connection with a disease, ailment or defect. Otherwise, it may be seen as a therapeutic good. 

The line between acceptable and unacceptable cosmetic claims can be unclear and often depends on the context and any relevant qualifications. The following example (as provided by the TGA) in relation to the word ‘relieves’ highlights the interface between cosmetic claims and therapeutic claims: 

  • ‘relieves skin dried by wind’ has a cosmetic implication and is therefore purely a cosmetic claim; 
  • ‘relieves itching’ is unclear and requires further qualification to clarify its strictly cosmetic use; and
  • ‘relieves inflamed and irritated skin’ is unacceptable wording for a cosmetic product. 

Clearly, the choice of wording and terminology used to describe the effects and use of cosmetic products is critical in influencing the acceptability of a claim. 

3. How Are Cosmetics Regulated? 

The regulation of certain cosmetics will depend on what is in the particular cosmetic. The Industrial Chemicals Act 2019 sets out the requirements concerning permitted ingredients in cosmetics. The Trade Practices (Consumer Product Information Standards) (Cosmetics) Regulations 1991 sets out the requirements concerning ingredient labelling information. 

Additionally, the National Drugs and Poisons Schedule Committee (which is part of the TGA) oversees cosmetic products that contain a substance within the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons.

Importantly, cosmetic products will need to comply with the Australian Consumer Law. In particular:

  • any claims made about the product cannot be misleading or deceptive; 
  • all products need to be safe and of acceptable quality; and 
  • all products must comply with the consumer guarantees. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is responsible for enforcing cosmetic ingredient labelling requirements, as well as general advertising claims.  

Key Takeaways

If you have a cosmetic good, you should carefully consider whether it could be a therapeutic good or if you are making any claims that could suggest or indicate that the product has therapeutic use. In general, the label or advertising of cosmetic products should not make reference to treating or preventing disease and should not be misleading or deceptive in any way. If you think your product is a therapeutic good, you must seek approval from the TGA before supplying, selling or marketing the product in Australia. For advice about advertising your cosmetic goods or making claims, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a cosmetic good? 

They are generally defined as a substance or preparation intended for placement in contact with any external part of the human body, with a view to alter the odours of the body, change its appearance, cleanse it, maintain it in good condition, perfume it or protect it.

How do you know if a product is a cosmetic good?

Whether a product is cosmetic will largely depend on the composition of the product and proposed use and claims made about the product. 

What are cosmetic claims?

It can be a word, sentence, paragraph or an implication about the use of a product. Additionally, it should present the product explicitly for cosmetic purposes only and cannot make reference or suggest that the product can be used for or in connection with a disease, ailment or defect.

Webinars

Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Online
Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Joanne-Chenn
Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards