The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today outlined activities aimed at ensuring safe products and accurate marketing claims in the cosmetic industry.

In a speech to the Accord conference in Sydney, ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said cosmetics accounted for approximately 30 per cent of injury reports in the past year.

“Few other consumer products are directly applied to our bodies in the way cosmetics are. This means that people who make and supply cosmetic products need to be fully aware of their responsibilities,” Ms Rickard said.

The mandatory standard for cosmetic ingredient labelling (cosmetics labelling standard) helps consumers identify ingredients that they may be allergic or sensitive to. The standard also allows consumers to compare products at the point of sale.

In assessing compliance with the cosmetics labelling standard, Ms Rickard said that as part of this year’s surveillance activities the ACCC is focusing on cosmetic products which have no ingredient labelling and where ingredient labelling is in a language other than English.

“Where we identify non-compliance with the cosmetics labelling standard, we will speak with the suppliers and enforcement action will be seriously contemplated.”

In discussing supply chain integrity, Ms Rickard said consumers are entitled to expect that every manufacturer, importer and retailer in Australia adheres to appropriate levels of product stewardship.

“In cosmetics, recent trends such as more products with natural ingredients or products with fewer or natural preservatives must still be covered by effective quality assurance programs to prevent unsafe products from reaching the shelves.”

“Investing in good quality assurance processes means you can be confident that the products you sell are safe and fit for purpose.”

Ms Rickard also warned that the ACCC’s priority focus on credence claims extends to the promotion of cosmetic products.

“Companies should not claim products are of a particular quality or standard when they are not.”

“Credence claims may relate to the presence or absence of an ingredient (i.e. formaldehyde free), product safety (i.e allergy tested) or the moral or social benefits of a product (i.e cruelty free, not tested on animals).”

“Consumers cannot judge the truthfulness of claims made about products and they rely on suppliers to provide accurate and truthful information.”

The speech is available at: Cosmetic compliance and safety and the Australian Consumer Law