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Cosmetics and therapeutics

One of the main factors that determines whether a product is a cosmetic or therapeutic is the claims made about the product.

Products are determined to be either ‘cosmetics’ or ‘therapeutic goods’ based on three factors:

  • the primary use of the product
  • the ingredients in the product
  • the claims made about the product

We regulate chemicals that are imported or manufactured for an 'industrial' use - including the ingredients in cosmetics.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates medicines and products that are marketed as having a ‘therapeutic’ effect - including most skin-whitening lotions, primary sunscreens, disinfectants, complementary medicines and blood products.

What is a cosmetic

A cosmetic product is a substance designed to be used on any external part of the body - or inside the mouth - to change its odour or appearance, cleanse it, keep it in good condition or protect it.

It’s important to note we don't set or enforce labelling requirements for cosmetics in Australia and don’t provide specific advice about this. For more help on this topic, see labelling, SDS and packaging.

Examples of cosmetics

Face and nail

  • Lipstick and lip balms with SPF sunscreen that comply with the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Determination, 2018
  • Nail care products including nail hardeners and products to deter nail biting
  • Make-up such as mascara, eyeshadow, primer and bronzer
  • Nail polish and varnish
  • Tinted bases and foundation without SPF sunscreen, including liquids, pastes and powders
  • Make-up removers
  • Lipstick and lip balms without SPF sunscreen
  • Face masks and scrubs

Hair care and hairdressing products

  • Anti-dandruff hair care products that comply with the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Determination, 2018
  • Hair tints, hair dyes and bleaches
  • Products for waving, straightening and fixing hair
  • Hair-setting products such as gels, sprays and lotions
  • Shampoo and hair-cleansing products, including lotions and powders
  • Hair conditioner
  • Hairdressing products such as lotions, lacquers and brilliantines

Oral and dental hygiene

  • Toothpaste and gel
  • Denture cleansers and adhesives
  • Some dental bleaches and whiteners

Desensitising toothpastes and gels are NOT cosmetics. They are therapeutics and are regulated by the TGA.


  • Perfumes and colognes
  • Eau de toilette
  • Eau de colognes
  • Eau de parfum

Personal hygiene

  • Feminine hygiene products such as intimate cleaners, deodorants, wash, powder, moisturisers and gels. We do not regulate pads, tampons and panty liners because they are classified as articles.
  • Deodorants
  • Cleansers, including soap, deodorant, astringent and skin washes
  • Shaving products, such as creams, foams and lotions
  • Bath and shower preparations, such as salts, foams, oils and gels
  • Depilatories
  • After-bath powders
  • Hygienic powders

Skin care

What is a therapeutic?

A therapeutic product is used to prevent, diagnose or treat a disease or its symptoms, or affect the structure or functions of the human body.

If your product is for therapeutic use, read the TGA's regulation basics for more information.

Examples of therapeutics

  • Primary sunscreens (products that are primarily used for protection from UV radiation) are regulated as therapeutics
  • Moisturisers that contain a sun-screening agent as a secondary component and have a stated therapeutic purpose ('helps protect skin from the damaging effects of UV radiation') are regulated as medicines
  • Skin-whitening lotions that inhibit the physiological process of melanin production are regulated as medicines. For example, products that contain the chemical hydroquinone
  • Tablets can have side effects or interact in unwanted ways with other prescriptions, and are regulated as medicines.

Still not sure?

Our decision tree tool can help you determine whether your product is a cosmetic or therapeutic good.

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