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If you sell cosmetics in Australia, there are some important rules and regulations to consider. Many of these regulations relate to how you label your cosmetic products, and not complying with them may result in heavy fines or penalties. These penalties will depend on whether you are selling your products as an individual or a company. This article will outline the key legal regulations to be aware of if you sell cosmetics in Australia.

What Are Cosmetics?

Under the law in Australia, a cosmetic is a substance or product that people apply to their body for a specific purpose.

For example, this purpose might be to:

  • clean;
  • apply a certain scent; or
  • change the appearance of the body.

Even if you describe your products as ‘natural’, they may still be cosmetics under the law.

What Are My Main Obligations if I Plan to Sell Cosmetics in Australia?

You will face certain legal obligations if you plan to sell cosmetics in Australia. However, some obligations only apply to businesses that bring cosmetics into Australia, such as manufacturers and importers. These businesses must register with the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS). NICNAS is the regulatory body for industrial chemicals in Australia. Once registered, suppliers and manufacturers must ensure that all ingredients in their cosmetic products are either:

Generally, these obligations will not apply if you are a retailer of cosmetic products manufactured in Australia. However, as a retailer, you must still comply with any labelling or other requirements for cosmetics.

What Are My Labelling Requirements?

Australia also has strict information standards about what information cosmetic labelling must include. There are some exceptions to these regulations.

For example, the information standards do not apply to:

  • goods manufactured in Australia for export;
  • therapeutic goods; and
  • free samples.

One of the most important packaging requirements is that all ingredients are clearly listed. Typically, the ingredients in a cosmetic product must be listed on the:

  • container of the product; or
  • product itself, if the product is not in a container.

If neither of these options are possible because of the size, shape or nature of the cosmetic product, you must list the ingredients in another way that allows the customer to easily see what the product contains.

As well as these information standards, there are certain requirements under the law that apply to specific types of cosmetic products.

For example, additional requirements apply to products that are sold as:

  • sunscreen,
  • anti-acne,
  • oral care; and
  • anti-dandruff.

What Are the Penalties for Not Complying?

Failure to comply with the information standards is an offence under the law with heavy penalties. The maximum fines are:

  • $1.1 million for companies; and
  • $220,000 for individuals.

Products may also be recalled from retailers if they do not comply with the information standards.

In addition, suppliers of cosmetic products have mandatory reporting obligations. This means that a supplier must notify the Commonwealth Minister within two days of becoming aware that a product they supply may be associated with a:

  • death;
  • serious injury; or
  • illness.

The maximum fines for not reporting an incident are:

  • $16,650 for companies; and
  • $3,330 for individuals.

Key Takeaways

If you intend to start selling cosmetics in Australia, you will have to comply with strict legal regulations. These regulations relate to:

  • which chemicals the cosmetics contain; and
  • the cosmetics’ packaging and ingredient lists.

If you do not comply with these regulations, you could face heavy penalties.

If you have any questions or would like help with selling cosmetics in Australia, contact LegalVision’s e-commerce lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.


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