ACCC targets blemish in cosmetics labelling

16 April 2009

Australian cosmetics manufacturer Natural Products of Australia Pty Ltd will publish corrective notices in national newspapers and magazines this month, following action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission about incorrect labelling on Natural Instinct and Organic Instinct hair and skin care products.

"Consumers should be able to rely on labels to provide accurate information about the chemicals and other ingredients in cosmetic products," ACCC Deputy Chairman, Mr Peter Kell, said today. 

The ACCC was concerned that inaccuracies in Natural Instinct's labels would mislead consumers about the composition of its products and prevent them from making informed purchasing decisions.

"This is particularly important for consumers with allergies who need to avoid particular ingredients and chemicals," he said. "Further, consumers who are increasingly conscious of the kinds of chemicals in the home may wish to avoid certain ingredients.

"There is also a trend towards buying natural, organic and environmentally friendly products."

Natural Instinct did not list chemicals such as sodium laureth sulphate, cocamide DEA and cetrimonium chloride as ingredients on a number of its products. 
It later listed ingredients including sodium laureth sulphate and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate by incorrect names.  Natural Instinct also did not list ingredients from biggest to smallest as required by the applicable mandatory standard.

The ACCC also held concerns about statements by Natural Instinct that its products are "made with/from 100% pure oils and certified organic herbs" because a number of the products contain relatively insignificant amounts of herbs and oils. Natural Instinct has amended its packaging in response to this concern.

"The purpose of the mandatory standard for cosmetic labelling is to ensure that consumers know exactly what is in the products they use.  The ACCC will take action against manufacturers which fail to comply with the mandatory standard and gain an unfair advantage over companies that do the right thing."

The ACCC acknowledges it is likely that some of the conduct was initiated by the previous management of Natural Instinct. 

Natural Instinct's current management has entered into court enforceable undertakings with the ACCC and has agreed to:

  • relabel its products
  • provide full refunds to affected customers
  • publish corrective notices in the Women's Weekly magazine and the Body+Soul lift-out of the Sunday Mail, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Herald Sun, Sunday Times and major newspapers in Tasmania and the Northern Territory
  • publish a corrective notice listing all affected products on its website (www.naturalinstinct.com.au)
  • endeavour to place corrective notices in all stores that sell its products, and
  • implement a trade practices law compliance program.

For information about claiming a refund contact Natural Instinct on 1800 771 063 or email customerservice@naturalinstinct.com.au.

Release number: 
NR 078/09
ACCC Infocentre: 

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