General information on cosmetics

Ingredients in cosmetic products are classed as industrial chemicals, even those described as naturally occurring. To make sure these products are safe for the workers handling them, the environment and for use by consumers, the Australian Government assesses the ingredients used in the manufacture and importation of cosmetics in Australia.


Amendments to the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 for cosmetics came into force on 17 September 2007 and introduced a Cosmetics Standard (PDF 18 Kb) which sets the standards for six cosmetic product categories. The NICNAS Cosmetics Guidelines (PDF 161 Kb) provide a plain English guide about the legislative requirements and apply to all cosmetics. The NICNAS Cosmetics Guidelines was last updated on 29 June 2012 to clarify that a List of sunscreening agents for use in cosmetic products (Part G) relates to sunscreening agensts used to protect the skin.


All cosmetic products and their ingredients must comply with the changed legislative requirements for cosmetics and all NICNAS requirements must also be met. New cosmetic ingredients (not on the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances) are subject to notification and assessment unless they qualify for an exemption. Companies and/or individuals who are introducing (importing or manufacturing) cosmetic ingredients or importing cosmetic products must be registered with NICNAS.

Cosmetics must be labelled in accordance with the Trade Practices (Consumer Product Information Standards) (Cosmetics) Regulations 1991. This legislation prescribes the Mandatory standard—Cosmetics & toiletries—ingredients labelling which sets out the standards, the responsibilities of suppliers and retailers, and the ACCC's role in enforcing cosmetic and toiletries ingredients labelling.
The three Australian Government Agencies who administer the legislation regulating cosmetics are NICNAS, TGA and ACCC. Their roles in cosmetic complaints management are outlined in the Complaints Management and Compliance Responsibilities for Cosmetic Products


Frequently Asked Questions

NICNAS has produced a list of Frequently Asked Questions, located in the About NICNAS/Cosmetics FAQ section of this website.

Your Online Guide

This guide contains information from NICNAS, the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.


This guide contains:


  1. What is a cosmetic?

  2. Why assess cosmetics ingredients?

  3. What happens if the product is considered to be therapeutic?

  4. What is a therapeutic good? What is therapeutic use?

  5. What do I need to tell NICNAS?

  6. Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (AICS);

  7. New industrial chemicals;

  8. NICNAS can advise you on the options available;

  9. What if the chemical already exists in Australia?

  10. When do companies have to register with NICNAS?

  11. Labelling of cosmetics;

  12. Labelling a chemical hazard; and

  13. Cosmetic related contact details.

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