South African Advertising Labelling of Cosmetic Products is Comprehensive

The requirements of South ’s Advertising of Cosmetics and Labelling of Consumer Products is comprehensive. All advertising for cosmetics shall conform to the provision as defined in the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Amendment Act of 2008, the Standards Act (Act 8 of 2008), and the requirements as laid out in the CTFA Cosmetic Compendium.

The Definition of a “” under the Act is as follows:

“A shall mean any substance or preparation intended to be placed in contact with the various external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair system, , and external genital organs) or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance and/or correcting body odours and/or protecting them or keeping them in good condition”

except where such cleaning, perfuming, protecting, changing, keeping or correcting is wholly for the purpose of treating or preventing disease.

The definition specifies six functions pertaining to cosmetic products, namely:

to clean;

to perfume;

to change the appearance;

to correct body odours;

to protect;

to keep in good condition.

If a product does not have at least one of these as its primary purpose, it is not a cosmetic. However, primary cosmetics can also have secondary functions, e.g. a with an anti-bacterial/anti-fungal secondary function, where the primary purpose complies with 3.2. However claims for these secondary functions can only be made in a cosmetic sense.
The field of application of cosmetics remains as before and is limited to the epidermis; the hair system; the ; the ; the external genital organs; the teeth; and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity.

Products which are intended to be ingested, inhaled or applied to not covered by the definition are not cosmetics.

Unacceptable claims are claims that are not substantiated, or claim statements not worded in a cosmetic sense.

In general, no cosmetic claims for products used on mucous membranes (except the mouth) will be allowed.

Claims suggesting permanent effects of cosmetics may not be used, e.g. permanent improvement, reversal of deterioration etc.

The term “cosmeceutical” is not permitted with reference to cosmetic products as it is misleading (reference: MCC Minutes of March 2000, Item 2.9). Any similar term would also not be permitted.
Any claim implying -related properties must have appropriate scientific substantiation, for example, soaps, moisturisers, barrier creams and the use of the word “natural” may not be used on the label of or with reference to a cosmetic.

Mention of ingredients may be made but if specific claims for such ingredients are made, scientific substantiation must be provided to prove that the product itself has those properties.

Example of Acceptable claims are: Cover up (hide) age spots (blemishes, dark pigmented areas) feel (look) younger (youthful) helps prevent (reduce, slow) the signs (appearance) of ageing (age lines, premature ageing) moisturise ageing skin, helps firm the skin (helps fight and smooth wrinkles).

Products containing Alpha, Beta or any other Hydroxy Acids shall carry the statement:

“Sun Alert: because this product may make your skin more sensitive to the sun, be certain that you apply a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 15 while using this product, and for a week after you discontinue use”,

South African consumers have informative tools at their disposal to optimize their personal consumer product choices.


Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Amendment Act of 2008.
The Standards Act (Act 8 of 2008)
CTFA Cosmetic Compendium.
MCC Minutes of March 2000, Item 2.9.

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    One thought on “South African Advertising Labelling of Cosmetic Products is Comprehensive

    • September 10, 2014 at 8:57 am

      We have a client that we do their imports and clearing for and they have a new supplier that has asked the following questions and i am hoping that this council would be able to assist.
      the supplier as asked:
      a list of compulsory labelling for cosmetic products in RSA
      what information must be displayed in foreign language and english
      requirements for a period after opening/best before dates

      Your assistance or referral in answer to above request would be greatly appreciated.
      kind regards
      Michelle Hamilton


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