Cosmetics and soaps

Last update 12 September 2017

A 'cosmetic' is a substance or preparation that is for use on any external part of the human body—or inside the mouth—to change its appearance, cleanse it, keep it in good condition, perfume it or protect it. Cosmetics include soap, shampoo, moisturiser, hair dye, perfume, lipstick, mascara, nail polish, deodorant and many other products.

Nearly all cosmetic ingredients are regulated as industrial chemicals under the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 (ICNA Act). This includes ingredients described as 'natural', such as oils, extracts and essences of plants.

If you want to import and/or manufacture cosmetics or cosmetic ingredients for commercial purposes you may need to register your business with NICNAS.

Before importing and/or manufacturing a cosmetic you must check the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (AICS) to see if all your chemical ingredients are listed and if there are conditions for using those chemicals.

If an ingredient is not listed on AICS—or has a condition of use different to your intended use—it is a new industrial chemical to Australia. Unless an exemption applies, the new industrial chemical will need to be assessed by NICNAS for risks to the environment and human health before it can be imported and/or manufactured. Read more about notifying a new chemical.